Today sees the release of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) 4.0 – the latest version of Microsoft’s free antivirus program. The previous version of MSE was 2.1 – if you’re wondering what happened to MSE 3, for some reason there wasn’t one (although there was a version 3 of the anti-malware sub-component).
Quite why Microsoft decided to jump straight to version 4.0 for MSE as a whole is unknown.
What’s New In MSE 4.0? Microsoft typically do not release change logs so it is difficult to confirm exactly what has changed but it is certainly not a major update – which makes the decision not to just call it MSE 2.2 or 3.0 even more baffling…
The following statement on Microsoft Answers details the changes: “We have improved on Microsoft Security Essentials’ Automatic Remediation, which will automatically quarantine highly harmful threats without prompting the user to take action as well as minor bug fixes in set up, malware remediation and other areas.” More product information on MSE generally is available from Microsoft here.
Download – Existing MSE users should find that it updates to the new version automatically via the Microsoft Update service but, for new users and those impatient to upgrade, MSE 4.0 is available for free download from Microsoft here.
Minimum System Requirements – You must have a genuine version of Windows to use MSE. It is available for XP SP3, Vista SP1/2 and Windows 7 – 32bit and 64 bit versions.
- XP – 256 MB RAM or higher (my recommendation, 1 GB+)
- Vista and Windows 7 – 1 GB RAM or higher (my recommendation, 2 GB+)
Microsoft Security Essentials is a free antivirus known for being lightweight i.e. less impact on system performance than some antivirus suites – this makes it particularly well suited to older and slower computers. MSE 4.0 is an evolutionary change with fixes and minor improvements – the automatic quarantining of highly harmful malware is a good idea as in the past users may have mistakenly chosen otherwise.
Although popular, the previous MSE 2.1 version didn’t perform very well in our recent review of free antivirus software – rivals Avast, AVG and Avira offered far better protection although MSE did score well in its ability to recover from virus infection after the event.
It will be interesting to see if MSE 4.0 improves its protection scores as it is tested over the coming months.