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.
Tech savvy users know that it's not necessary to pay for antivirus protection. The question is, how reliable is Microsoft's own Security Essentials software? In our own tests, Security Essentials has performed fairly well in terms of protection, though its slow scan speed and limited feature-set don't put it at the front of the pack when compared with other free (and paid) AV solutions. What's confusing, however, is Microsoft's own opinion on the matter.
Someone over at Microsoft must watch a lot of hockey, because it’s the only way to explain the company’s recent hat trick. First there was Bing, the much-improved “decision” engine that replaced Live Search. Then Windows 7 launched, atoning for Vista. Now we have Microsoft Security Essentials, one of the latest entries into the field of AV, and another winning product from Microsoft.
Essentials scored points with us right off the bat with its supersonic 10-second install time. Even after downloading the latest update, we still hadn’t invested more than a minute or so of our time. And while Vista, Internet Explorer, and other Microsoft software made it easy at times to rag on Redmond for poor resource management, there would be none of that with Essentials, which disappeared quietly into the background.
When it came time to test Essentials, we checked our expectations at the door but were nevertheless pleasantly surprised. Essentials sailed through our synthetic spyware and virus testing without so much as flinching and fared equally well at thwarting our attempts to inflict damage with genuine payloads.
Microsoft confirmed on Monday that it would be releasing its free security suite to the public sometime this morning Pacific time, although no specific hour was given for the launch.
Formerly codenamed "Morro," Microsoft's Security Essentials is the company's replacement for Windows Live OneCare, the fee-based security suite that Microsoft axed back in June. Shortly after, Security Essentials was made available in beta form to a limited number of testers.
Not only will Security Essentials be free, but Microsoft said users will not have to register their copy, nor will a time limit be placed on the software.
"Consumers have told us that they want the protection of real-time security software, but that they are confused by trials and renewals and concerned about performance and as a result, too many are unprotected," said Amy Barzdukas, general manager for consumer security at Microsoft in a statement.
The Essentials software runs on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
Microsoft opened its gates to public beta testers for its free antivirus solution, Microsoft Security Essentials, on June 23, 2009. Within a day, it managed to get rid of the 75,000 public beta downloads it had made available on a first-come-first-serve basis in the United States, China, Israel and Brazil.
“The final version of Microsoft Security Essentials will be released to the public in the coming weeks. If you are running the older version of the beta (1.0.1407.0), we encourage you to upgrade to a newer version of the beta (1.0.1500.0),” Microsoft informed testers on Sunday.