Microsoft Security Essentials bombs tests, loses AV-Test certificate

By on November 29, 2012, 12:00 PM

Microsoft Security Essentials was the only entry to fail AV-Test's certification between September and October -- an embarrasing slip for the once well-regarded virus protection solution. MSSE received a total of 10.5 out of 18 possible points, most notably falling short in zero-day malware attacks. As a point of reference, 11 points are required to receive certification. The fallen AV only received 1.5 out of 6.0 for system protection, but fared better when it came to repairing infections and usability: 3.5 and 5.5 out of 6.0, respectively.

Thankfully, other free alternatives performed better: Avast (14 points) edged out AVG (12.5 points) and Avira (12 points), receiving above-average marks all-around. Meanwhile, Bitdefender topped payware offerings, netting an almost perfect score of 17 points.

If you're somehow not familiar with it, MSSE is Microsoft's nag-free, no-cost anti-virus solution for Windows XP, Vista and 7 owners. Although Windows 8 users can't install MSSE, the utility essentially comes integrated into the OS -- it's simply disguised as "Windows Defender". 

AV-Test is an independent German organization who, amongst other things, rates anti-virus utilities based on various metrics about every two months. AV-Test's certification is by no means an industry requirement, but their test results have served as a standardized way to benchmark anti-virus programs for years.

Similarly, AV Comparatives is another firm who offers their own, indepedent anti-virus grading service. After recalling MSSE scoring very high marks with AV Comparatives back in 2009, I checked out the site's latest tests to get a second opinion. Curiously though, MSSE has been missing from tests at AV Comparatives since 2010. Looks like we'll have to take AV-Test's word on this one.




User Comments: 81

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Guest said:

Uh-oh, bad news for MSE users :D

Guest said:

Wow... You'd think with Windows 8 out the door already and MS NOT offering Service Packs or new DirectX for Windows 7, that they'd have plenty of time to work on keeping MS Security Essentials performing well.

Guess not...

4 people like this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Damn MS is too busy trying to shove Windows 8 down everyone's throat rather than properly maintain one of the quality products they have.

treeski treeski said:

Hopefully they step it up again asap. I love how light weight MSSE is.

5 people like this |
Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

This is really disappointing. I've been recommending MSE for a while now. Hope they can clean up their act.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Are there even any other "nag-free, no-cost anti-virus solutions" other than MSE?

I've been installing it on several work computers, it's a tremendous improvement over Symantec Corporate Antivirus!

The only downside I have seen is when you open a folder with many EXE files, like my "Appz" or "Drivers" folder; then it hogs the CPU down real hard and the computer does slow down in this scenario allot...

(And it is quite annoying because when downloading some program off the Internet I browse to that folder with my browser which slows it down to a screeching halt aswell...)

4 people like this | marinkvasina marinkvasina said:

Ugh Avast is the solution.

14 out 18

It never bothers me only once a year for registration

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's weird too because the latest Norton used to rank top, but now Bit Defender is, who, from past experiences, performed cleaning duties well, but always was a resource hog.

Antiviruses are very interesting software, their performance goes up or down as new malware is found; it's up to each company to keep each antivirus on their toes. Seems MS has been lazy due to Windows 8, which is unfortunate for MSE users.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I've been using MSE for some time now and have found it to be quite good though this does make me wonder. I'll have to do some more research.

psycros psycros said:

Wow... You'd think with Windows 8 out the door already and MS NOT offering Service Packs or new DirectX for Windows 7, that they'd have plenty of time to work on keeping MS Security Essentials performing well.

Guess not...

They've been concentrating on ruining Windows for the past four years. Hardly any time left for creating a viable a/v solution. MSIE was <b>always</b> the protection of last resort, anyway.

killeriii said:

Damn MS is too busy trying to shove Windows 8 down everyone's throat rather than properly maintain one of the quality products they have.

Agreed, MS has a habit of this imo.

CeCeSam CeCeSam said:

Are there even any other "nag-free, no-cost anti-virus solutions" other than MSE?

I've been installing it on several work computers, it's a tremendous improvement over Symantec Corporate Antivirus!

The only downside I have seen is when you open a folder with many EXE files, like my "Appz" or "Drivers" folder; then it hogs the CPU down real hard and the computer does slow down in this scenario allot... :(

(And it is quite annoying because when downloading some program off the Internet I browse to that folder with my browser which slows it down to a screeching halt aswell...)

Second paragraph of the above article names 3 other FREE alternatives. (THANKS!) Good Luck. I will be checking these out myself! If you find one you like more than others, I'd love to hear back! I'm not as experienced as you, but I'm a good student! :)

Guardian31756 said:

We, should all be ashamed of ourselves for this, each and everyone of us !

Our constant nagging freedom of choice has come back to bite ourselves in our arse, Am laughing so hard, that it hurts !

You see, as an End-User, am told, nah scratch that, ADVISED, to protect my connection against those whom are willing to seek and destroy me and I go out and see what's everyone choice AVG and I find out, Everyone has a recommendation as to what's the best ! Frankly, NOT 1 of the AVG's are perfect because if it were, their wouldn't be so many choices, now would there ?

HAT's off to those who TRUSTED the best ! I wouldn't seek anyone's advise because IMHO, It's NOT your arse on the line, it's MINE !

distantreality said:

You can take their word....I sure won't

vis12345 said:

I think Microsoft is planning to make Windows 7 people with more problems. And also want people to changed to new OS and use Defender. If you see the number of definition updates released per day for Defender is more than MSE.

vis12345 said:

There is some correction to the main post. Defender is different than MSE. The regular updates per day for Defender is more than MSE. If you have both Win 7 and Win 8, check it yourself.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Second paragraph of the above article names 3 other FREE alternatives. (THANKS!) Good Luck. I will be checking these out myself! If you find one you like more than others, I'd love to hear back! I'm not as experienced as you, but I'm a good student!

Ive used them all (admittedly quite a while ago)

But they all seem to have some kind of nag screen or otherwise unwanted behavior, MSE is really great in this regard.

Clean user interface and no nag prompts, if I had to guess who made this A/V I would have NEVER guessed Micrososft.

Especially seeing how far downhill most of their other products have gone!

1 person liked this | marinkvasina marinkvasina said:

Second paragraph of the above article names 3 other FREE alternatives. (THANKS!) Good Luck. I will be checking these out myself! If you find one you like more than others, I'd love to hear back! I'm not as experienced as you, but I'm a good student!

Ive used them all (admittedly quite a while ago)

But they all seem to have some kind of nag screen or otherwise unwanted behavior, MSE is really great in this regard.

Clean user interface and no nag prompts, if I had to guess who made this A/V I would have NEVER guessed Micrososft.

Especially seeing how far downhill most of their other products have gone!

Avast doesn't nag at all, you don't even have to touch it for 12 months.

CeCeSam CeCeSam said:

I am new to computers, and I'm NOT "ashamed" to admit I lack education in these things! I JUST "Join[ed] thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum." because I'd like the BENEFIT of everyone's' KNOWLEGE. That is how people LEARN. I am well aware that "opinions" & "advice" are things that everyone has, and it is up to the reader to sort those out. I do find it ironic, though, how the people who claim never to take advice, surely have no problem offering it! Thank you, TechSpot contributors, for graciously sharing your experiences & knowledge; and for your patience with folks like myself! (< 4 yrs with laptop/ NO formal training) I was ADVISED this was the community to join to LEARN!:)

p51d007 said:

Use a 1-2 punch like a lot of people do.

MSE, and Malwarebytes or something similar.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Are there even any other "nag-free, no-cost anti-virus solutions" other than MSE?
Second paragraph of the above article names 3 other FREE alternatives. (THANKS!) Good Luck. I
I think you missed the subtlety of Mr Hansson's original post. I'm sure he's more than familiar with all of the free offerings. Yes, there are plenty of free alternatives to MSE. They all nag, with "Avira" being the most obnoxious of the "big three," (Avast, AVG, & Avira). IMO, "Avira" isn't worth installing, as the nags are that pervasive.

The beauty of MSE is, (or ostensibly was), there's no paid version they could nag you to buy, after you opted for the free one.

My understanding of "Windows Defender", is that it is targeted primarily at Windows OS files. So, arguably M$ is opting to protect its data, before yours. (And feel free to correct me on this if I'm wrong).

"Advanced System Care" which is a PC cleaner, has gone from tolerably cajoling you to purchase it, to outright, nagware / adware. I was forced to remove it, after giving in to its update nags. So, in the AV, cleaner, malware prevention, freeware arena, my experience has been that everybody's nagging more, and giving away less.

Guest said:

I haven't been recommended MSE since beginning. I have fixed a lot of people computers, and they always get problems with virus, trojans and malwares while they have MSE installed. MSE is a horrible product. I always suggest people to buy Kaspersky, but if they can't afford it then I recommend Avast. They never come back after I installed Kaspersky or Avast.... Perhaps I should keep install MSE to make money. :-P

JC713 JC713 said:

Uh-oh, bad news for MSE users

I really like it and this is dissapointing

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I really like it and this is dissapointing
You must admit, liking something that doesn't work is, well, a self defeating paradox.

Adnel Adnel said:

Well, quoting sure sucks here, lol. I didn't write that.

Avast: Right click on TaskBar icon, select Silent Gaming mode... forget for 1 year... and as usual, be careful, no solution is perfect.

R3DP3NGUIN R3DP3NGUIN said:

The only time I recommended MSE, was to AVG goers. otherwise I always used either Avast or Avira. Avira's advertising made me stop using the program mind-you.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Well, quoting sure sucks here, lol. I didn't write that.
How exactly would you even go about creating a mess like that, let alone having it happen, "accidentally"?

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

You must admit, liking something that doesn't work is, well, a self defeating paradox.

We liked it back when it did work, and are just now finding out that it doesn't cut it anymore. That's why this is disappointing, but you knew that

misor misor said:

I used to love avg 2013 antivirus free edition but lately virus definition updates always fail so I uninstalled and switched to avast antivirus free edition.

jcarr11 said:

I use malware bytes pro and MSE and I never have a problem and they do not hog resources. Malware is only 25 a year very worth it

PinothyJ said:

Your protection is bad and you should feel bad...

killeriii said:

Lol, and here I haven't used virus protection for about 3 years. :o

I can't believe how many people here use it. And multiple types at once too!

I'm just careful I guess. :p

1 person liked this | Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

I've become accustom to installing MSSE and Malwarebyte's Antimalware. I will do a once a month scan with it, and I actually have a paid version of it too, but dont like to keep it running. I leave MSSE running on the other hand during all times as a light layer of protection. Sometimes I'll download Spybot Anti Spyware, but I find certain aspects of its protection annoying.

dennis777 dennis777 said:

Maybe they did not update the virus definition of MSE before performing the test :P

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Avast doesn't nag at all, you don't even have to touch it for 12 months.

I'm after a completely nag-free solution.

You would be afraid of how many systems I find, where either the paid license expired and the users does nothing (even tho she is prompted on every system bootup to do something about it!)

That's why I used Symantec Corporate Antivirus at work, it is nag-free and we have a license, so it never expires.

But it is such a bad resource hog that I began switching systems over to MSE...

I think you missed the subtlety of Mr Hansson's original post. I'm sure he's more than familiar with all of the free offerings. Yes, there are plenty of free alternatives to MSE. They all nag, with "Avira" being the most obnoxious of the "big three," (Avast, AVG, & Avira). IMO, "Avira" isn't worth installing, as the nags are that pervasive.

The beauty of MSE is, (or ostensibly was), there's no paid version they could nag you to buy, after you opted for the free one.

Thank you, you are indeed correct, I tried to word my post very carefully

Infact I think this is the best Antivirus, it is what I use for my own computers at home [link]

Guest said:

I have used most if the free antivirus programs. Avira is the best one I have used. It found stuff the others didn't. I used to have Norton 360. It wasn't as good as Avira free edition.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Aw. >_> Don't really feel like calling a hundred people to tell them to uninstall it xD

marinkvasina marinkvasina said:

So basicly what you're saying, you can't use the best free AV solution because you have to spend 10 seconds every 12 months to register it?

What has this world come to...

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

So basicly what you're saying, you can't use the best free AV solution because you have to spend 10 seconds every 12 months to register it?

What has this world come to...

I don't have a problem with it.

But tell that to the users that do this instead, it is beyond me.

They come to me with a computer having viruses, 50% of the time the Antivirus has expired and they did nothing to fix it

The other 50% the Antivirus happens to be an old version of Norton Antivirus.

That's why I prefer a 100% nag-free solution like MSE...

Guest said:

Stop yamning everyone, there is no best AV or silver bullet against virus/malware.. if you want AV with better protection, subscribe one.. then, subscribe MBAM pro for another extra security

fyrfaktry fyrfaktry said:

I have fixed a lot of people computers, and they always get problems with virus, trojans and malwares while they have MSE installed. MSE is a horrible product. I always suggest people to buy Kaspersky.

That's wierd. Some of the worst infected computers I have worked on had Kaspersky on them...

valentyn0 valentyn0 said:

Bullshit review, have MSE since w7 came out, no problems at all (combined with Malwarebytes software is unbeatable) !!

marinkvasina marinkvasina said:

I don't have a problem with it.

But tell that to the users that do this instead, it is beyond me.

They come to me with a computer having viruses, 50% of the time the Antivirus has expired and they did nothing to fix it

The other 50% the Antivirus happens to be an old version of Norton Antivirus.

That's why I prefer a 100% nag-free solution like MSE...

That kind of species should be eliminated from this planet.

There is no nag-free solution that actually has decent protection.

Note: paying for AV-solutions does not increase security at all (where free options are available), excluding the one that topped this test.

wiyosaya said:

Second paragraph of the above article names 3 other FREE alternatives. (THANKS!) Good Luck. I will be checking these out myself! If you find one you like more than others, I'd love to hear back! I'm not as experienced as you, but I'm a good student!

Ive used them all (admittedly quite a while ago)

But they all seem to have some kind of nag screen or otherwise unwanted behavior, MSE is really great in this regard.

Clean user interface and no nag prompts, if I had to guess who made this A/V I would have NEVER guessed Micrososft.

Especially seeing how far downhill most of their other products have gone!

IMHO, with each release of some products, M$ has dumbed them down, made them worse, and then tells their customers that the programs are now improved.

That happened years ago with the help in Visual Studio. It used to produce exceptionally relevant results when searching for something. However, they turned that search into an "OR" search that produced volumes of irrelevant results, and somehow, the development world accepted this as "better."

Personally, I hope that either 1, the testing of MSE in this instance was flawed, or 2, M$ will devote the attention to MSE that it deserves.

Being somewhat cynical, though, MSE is a "free" product that other companies sell and, apparently, make a profit from. Without a proven profit path for MSE, I would expect that the business justification for maintaining it properly is almost non-existent.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Bullshit review, have MSE since w7 came out, no problems at all (combined with Malwarebytes software is unbeatable) !!

LOL @valentyn0

Good job with the reading words. The article states that this is a new development, and that is why there is so much discussion in this thread.

CeCeSam CeCeSam said:

I think you missed the subtlety of Mr Hansson's original post. I'm sure he's more than familiar with all of the free offerings. Yes, there are plenty of free alternatives to MSE. They all nag, with "Avira" being the most obnoxious of the "big three," (Avast, AVG, & Avira). IMO, "Avira" isn't worth installing, as the nags are that pervasive.

The beauty of MSE is, (or ostensibly was), there's no paid version they could nag you to buy, after you opted for the free one.

My understanding of "Windows Defender", is that it is targeted primarily at Windows OS files. So, arguably M$ is opting to protect its data, before yours. (And feel free to correct me on this if I'm wrong).

"Advanced System Care" which is a PC cleaner, has gone from tolerably cajoling you to purchase it, to outright, nagware / adware. I was forced to remove it, after giving in to its update nags. So, in the AV, cleaner, malware prevention, freeware arena, my experience has been that everybody's nagging more, and giving away less.

Thank you! You are right. I was unaware the others "Nag" since I have never used them. I have MSE on 2 older household PC's & 1 Laptop (upon advice from repair person AFTER earlier version of Norton failed to prevent/resolve something!), and a newer version of Norton (I presume) on newest Laptop. My concern presently is whether to renew Norton or not, with past experiences? You have ALL been SO HELPFUL!

penn919 said:

Lol, and here I haven't used virus protection for about 3 years. :o

I can't believe how many people here use it. And multiple types at once too!

I'm just careful I guess. :p

How would you know you aren't infected if you don't use any anti-virus?

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Well that's disappointing. MSE was the best out there if you wanted a good antivirus that wouldn't hassle you all the time.

dotVezz said:

We, should all be ashamed of ourselves for this, each and everyone of us !

Our constant nagging freedom of choice has come back to bite ourselves in our arse, Am laughing so hard, that it hurts !

You see, as an End-User, am told, nah scratch that, ADVISED, to protect my connection against those whom are willing to seek and destroy me and I go out and see what's everyone choice AVG and I find out, Everyone has a recommendation as to what's the best ! Frankly, NOT 1 of the AVG's are perfect because if it were, their wouldn't be so many choices, now would there ?

HAT's off to those who TRUSTED the best ! I wouldn't seek anyone's advise because IMHO, It's NOT your arse on the line, it's MINE !

I'm confused. What are you trying to say?

Guest said:

Dude, if you aren't an *****- you do not need antivirus. period. One of the modern ages biggest scams.

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