Surprise! Microsoft Security Essentials Doesn't Suck

Last Updated Oct 8, 2009 12:51 PM EDT

We love to rip on Microsoft as much as the next blog, but let's face it: The company has been making all the right moves of late. (Okay, maybe not so much with the hilariously awful Windows 7 House Party video.)

Witness Security Essentials, a new anti-virus utility that's fast, effective, and free. When combined with the spyware-fighting Windows Defender (which is now baked into the OS) and the Windows Firewall (ditto), it provides nearly all the security most PC users need.



You don't have to take my word for it: Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott calls Security Essentials "a near perfect security solution."
Meanwhile, check out PC World's review, which concludes: "Microsoft Security Essentials got it exactly right."

What pleases me most about MSE is its small footprint: It doesn't noticeably impact system performance. And, like Windows Defender, it goes about its business quietly, in the background, making its presence known only if there's a problem.

MSE works with Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP with SP2 or SP3. Amazingly, it's free, meaning you now have the opportunity to cut the cord from subscription-based anti-virus offerings from McAfee, Symantec, and the like. That could put an extra $50-60 per year (per PC!) in your pocket.

If you've tried Microsoft Security Essentials yourself (or don't plan to for some reason), share your thoughts in the comments.

In the meantime, here's one other tool I recommend throwing into your security mix: Web of Trust, a free browser add-on that protects you from unsafe links.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.