It's been a long time coming, but effective April 8, 2014, Microsoft will finally drop support for Windows XP. What that means is no more security patches , nor will you be able to receive tech support from Microsoft for any issues that arise on Windows XP systems. Initially, Microsoft also planned to pull the plug on its free Security Essentials software for XP by ceasing to offer it as a download and cutting off definition updates, but that's no longer the case.
Launched over two years back, Microsoft Security Essentials has established itself as one of the best free security apps out there. In this time, two versions of the free anti-virus have been released to mostly positive reviews. Our own reviews of MSE are a point in case. Now Microsoft is laying the groundwork for the release of the tool’s next version.
Kudos to reader Jeremy Gilbert for writing in to let us know that Microsoft recently released version 2.0 of its free Security Essentials antivirus program. It was actually made available last week, but slipped beneath our radar since Microsoft dropped it on the down-low.
We included MSE in last year's security software roundup, awarding the program an 8 verdict for its lean footprint and capable scan engine. According to How To Geek, version 2.0 includes a revamped heuristic scan engine, network traffic inspection to protect against network-based exploits, and tighter integration with Internet Explorer.
How well do the upgrades work? We haven't played around with MSE 2.0 yet, but you can bet we'll address the new features when we do.
Antivirus vendors went on the offensive when Microsoft announced it was dropping its Windows Live OneCare in favor of offering a free security suite, Microsoft Security Essentials. One year later and with 31 million installations now under its belt, Microsoft is free to serve up a slice of humble pie to the competition.
"It's been a busy year for Microsoft Security Essentials. As we observed right after the first week of release, Microsoft Security Essentials had already detected threats on over half a million computers," the Redmond outfit said in a TechNet blog post. "As Microsoft Security Essentials enters into its second year with over 31 million installations, 27 million of those computers have reported infections to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC)."
In other words, MSE isn't just popular, it's also working (you can read our review of Microsoft Security Essentials right here). It's also a global hit.
"The country with the most installations is the United States, but the next 10 countries with the most installs show that Microsoft Security Essentials has a global install base," Microsoft points out. "It is available in 27 languages – so language shouldn’t be a barrier to good security. Money is no problem, either – Microsoft Security Essentials is available at no cost!"