Microsoft has released its next edition of its Security Essentials tool. From InformationWeek:
Without fanfare, on Thursday Microsoft released version 2 of its Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) antivirus software. The software is free for individuals and small businesses with up to 10 PCs.
The new version of the software, which recently went through a four-month beta program, now has an overhauled heuristic antivirus scanning engine, integration with Windows Firewall, and network traffic inspection for Windows Vista and 7 -- but not XP -- reported Ars Technica.
According to internal Microsoft research, 80% of PC users in the United States think their antivirus software is up to date. But in reality -- thanks to outdated signatures or lapsed trials -- only about 40% of Windows users are employing up-to-date antivirus software.
There are lots of people who let their definitions lag for anti-malware software. The thinking is that A/V is too expensive and not worth the time and effort – but mostly the money – to keep it up-to-date.
Interestingly, Microsoft's release of MSE 2 comes on the heels of a new study from German AV vendor Avira, which found widespread dissatisfaction with antivirus. According to the survey of more than 9,000 Avira users, 25% of antivirus users admit to pulling the plug on their antivirus software -- at least temporarily -- because it appeared to be slowing their computer. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of respondents have tried multiple security products on their PC in the past year.
That was one of the things that I disliked about a lot of security pieces of software and liked about MSE – it was a lightweight piece of software. So much other software nowadays tries to cram in so much stuff but MSE just did the A/V component and that was it. I hate it when software tries to install the Google Toolbar or Yahoo Toolbar, and how chat programs do way more than chat; I want my software more streamlined at the cost of integration (most of the time this is true, there are a few cases when I like interoperability like Microsoft Office but this is the exception and not the rule). I think it’s interesting how simplicity really does have its place. Consider Twitter – all you get is 140 characters to make your point. You have to be efficient in your communication. I like Google Talk because all it does is chat and tell me I have new mail. At some point, adding new features to software does not provide additional returns.
On the other hand, including things like enabling Windows Firewall is also a step in the right direction. I don’t have a problem with that sort of thing because it is something that users really do need. If we are going to give advice like “Turn on your firewall” and “Run A/V”, then Windows Update should give users the option of following the advice that we give. It will make it more and more difficult for users to engage in bad security practices. We can’t wipe that out completely but we can narrow that window of vulnerability.