People often turn to me for advice regarding what anti-virus package to get. Usually I recommend McAfee or AVG, but Security Essentials will be my go-to anti-malware package once it's released from beta. For small-business and home users, the price, performance, and ease-of-use of MSE can't be beat.
This little app has everything a malware app should. It's virtually free of bloat, has a small memory footprint and a clear simple interface with just the right amount of control.
Security Essentials is lightweight. The installation download is under 5MB for Vista and Windows 7. At idle on my test system running Windows 7 RC, it only used about 34MB of RAM. While scanning, the memory footprint increased only slightly. Running a quick scan had little impact on my system's responsiveness. It is clear that Microsoft is addressing people's biggest complaint about anti-virus software: performance.
Of course, this is all meaningless if the product isn't effective. Fortunately, preliminary Microsoft Security Essentials tests show it to be very effective.
For small organisations with 25 or fewer systems, Security Essentials is a no-brainer. Large organisations will still opt to use products by McAfee and Symantec since Security Essentials will not have the reporting and management control of an enterprise solution. Admins who like the MSE product but support large environments may also want to check out Forefront, Microsoft's own enterprise security suite which shares its underlying code with Security Essentials.
Hopefully, MSE will follow the path of Windows Defender and be supported by Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) and group policy. This would be the perfect solution for an office large enough to warrant centralized definition updates and configuration, but too small to need an enterprise solution.
It's clear that Microsoft has a winner here and that it listened to and addressed the needs of its customers.
Michael Scalisi is an IT manager based in Alameda, California.