Windows Security Essentials is a free Anti-virus and security suite offered by Microsoft, for Windows users. It will work with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
To download it you simply need to go to Microsoft’s website and download it from this link: Microsoft Windows Security Essentials
Once there, you can choose your Windows flavor. It should be noted that you can download the 32 bit or 64 bit versions for Vista and Windows 7.
When you have installed the program, you will discover 4 tabs. The first is Home, which is of course the main page of the program. This page will show you the current security condition of your computer. Next is Update, which is self-explanatory. History is also easy to figure out, then there is the Settings tab. Here you can schedule scans, set default actions such as how to deal with a perceived threat. You can either have the threat removed, quarantined, ignored, or allowed. Under the settings tab you may also determine how you want Real Time protection set. You can exclude certain file types, or locations. The program gives you much latitude to “tweak” the protection it offers.
The question is how good is it? It is free, so that in itself should be taken into consideration. In many cases, free software solutions tend to be less than adequate. This is not the case for Windows Security Essentials, however.
Companies like MacAfee, Norton, and Symantec offer anti-virus, and security software. With most of them you must pay a yearly fee. These fees can range for $19.99 to $79.99 depending on the program. The free versions often are come-ons to get you to purchase the entire security suite offered by the company.
Microsoft has managed to undercut these companies by offering the software for free. What is interesting is the lack of information, and advertising about it. The program is streamlined, and will run on older, slower computers without causing slowdowns like some of these commercial anti-virus programs may create.
Some of these programs act almost like spyware themselves. Running a full scan often takes resources away from your system. Windows Security Essentials does not. It has low overhead, and takes very little system resources to run.
The protection offered is actually quite good. The program makes use of Microsoft’s Dynamic Signature Service. This will download the latest virus and spyware signature to a computer running Security Essentials the moment it is detected via Windows Update. This will keep your system appraised of the latest anti-virus solutions available.
Testers have stated that Security Essentials detected and treated all of the viruses thrown at it. This is good news for Microsoft, and those who use its operating systems. It is not such good news for hackers who create viruses. It’s also not great for companies that rely on end users purchasing yearly updates to their anti-virus software.
Windows Security Essentials was also part of the Windows 7 Operating System. You do not need to have the newest OS to use the program though, and it is offered on the site listed above for free.