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Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows Defender on Windows 8) was as soon as on height. Over the years, it’s slid in the test results, yet Microsoft said the tests weren’t meaningful. Now, Microsoft is advising Windows customers to use a third-party antivirus rather.

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This revelation comes to us from an intersee Microsoft gave. Microsoft’s main webwebsite still bills MSE as supplying “in-depth malware protection” without any kind of hint that they no much longer recommend using it. Microsoft is not communicating well with its individuals.

Update: Microsoft has actually currently released a statement, saying “We think in Microsoft antimalware commodities and strongly recommfinish them to our customers, to our friends, and to our families.” Their statement unfortunately doesn’t directly resolve Holly Stewart’s comments or MSE’s history of worsening test scores. Given MSE’s bad scores, all the stories we’ve heard around it failing civilization in the real world, and also Microsoft’s inregular interaction, we still don’t feel we deserve to recommend MSE anymore.

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Upday 2: In the year and a half considering that we published this article in 2013, Windows Defender’s test scores have actually improved. It still scores reduced than almost every various other antivirus app, however at leastern its performance isn’t virtually as low as it as soon as was. For an extra up-to-day check out of our present antivirus references, click here.

A Strong Start

Microsoft Security Essentials was once on top of the rankings. In 2009, AV-Comparatives.org provided it a really high score and also said it was the best-perdeveloping complimentary antivirus.

MSE was very appealing to Windows geeks prefer us, that easily latched onto it. It got extremely good malware detection scores, was extremely speedy, and was totally free. Not just was it accessible for totally free — it wouldn’t hassle you and also try to upoffer you to paid antivirus solutions, choose AVG and also avast! do. MSE was a breath of fresh air — both in its interconfront and also its speedy performance. Its test outcomes proved it was ahead of the fill, so it was ideal antivirus at the moment.

We’ve been recommfinishing MSE as the cost-free antivirus to usage for years bereason of this. It’s had by default on Windows 8 and also called “Windows Defender.” This is one of the massive defense renovations in Windows 8 — you have an antivirus contained so eincredibly Windows user has actually protection. It would be nice if Windows customers finally didn’t need to seek out a third-party antivirus.

Sliding Scores and also Excuses

Over the past numerous years, Microsoft Security Essentials has actually slid in the malware detection scoring tests. AV-TEST’s 2011 yearly review ranked Microsoft Security Essentials last location in security among all the assets it tested. In October 2012, Microsoft Security Essentials scored so low that it shed its AV-TEST certification. In June 2013, MSE got a zero defense score from AV-TEST — the lowest feasible score. It’s additionally come last in various other recent tests, including one by Dennis Technology Labs.

The below chart reflects MSE at the bottom of AV-TEST’s charts for July and also August 2013. When it comes to malware defense, it tested listed below every various other antivirus regime tested.


At the time, Microsoft argued that the tests were not representative of the real people. They sassist they were concentrated on trying to sheight real-world dangers, not complete in tests where the detection of rare malware was a far-reaching element. They said that staying clear of false positives was a crucial goal and also that real-people experiences were even more essential than arbitrary test outcomes.

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Geeks choose us below at How-To Geek believed them, taking them at their word. We absolutely had actually provided Microsoft Security Essentials on our personal computers for years. We hadn’t encountered any malware, also after percreating scans through various other antivirus programs to get a second opinion. We liked Microsoft Security Essentials for being so lightweight, unintrusive, and also not trying to upsell us to paid security suites full of mechanism utilities we don’t require. We favored the concept that Windows 8 individuals wouldn’t require any additional antivirus defense, eliminating an additional facility mechanism tool from Windows users’ resides.

Microsoft Has Stopped Trying

The Microsoft Security Essentials webwebsite promises “comprehensive malware protection” and also “award-winning protection,” so users would certainly be foroffered for believing that Microsoft was committed to making MSE a capable antivirus solution. But Microsoft is now saying that MSE is just standard security that individuals shouldn’t depend on.

In an interview through Dennis Protection Labs, Holly Stewart, the senior regimen manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, shelp that Microsoft Security Essentials was simply a “baseline” that’s designed to “constantly be on the bottom” of antivirus tests. She sassist Microsoft sees MSE as a very first layer of protection and advises Windows customers to usage a third-party antivirus rather.

According to Holly Stewart, Microsoft “had an epiphany kind of a couple of years ago, ago in 2011, where we realized we had actually a better calling and also that was to protect all Microsoft customers.” She says that Microsoft passes its indevelopment on to various other antivirus machines and helps them make their assets better. “We offered to have component of our time directed in the direction of predicting test results,” but these world have actually currently been directed to emphasis on emerging dangers and share that indevelopment with various other antivirus carriers.

She went on: “We’re giving every one of that data and information to our partners so they deserve to carry out at least as well as we are. The natural development is that we will always be on the bottom of these tests. And honestly, if we are doing our job effectively, that’s what will certainly occur.”

However, she suggests that “baseline does not equal bad” and also claims they carry out a high-top quality antivirus. But Microsoft themselves are recommfinishing customers not usage MSE, so it’s tough to take that seriously. This isn’t a product average human being must use — it’s much better than no antivirus, however not somepoint we need to recommend. Microsoft is doing a disorganization to its users by telling antivirus experimentation service providers that they don’t recommend MSE for average users and also telling average users that MSE gives them through “comprehensive malware protection” on their website. Microsoft demands to pick one message and also stick to it.


If You’re a Geek, You Can Probably Get By With MSE

Now, if you’re a geek like we are, MSE and also Windows Defender are exceptionally usable. If you have actually excellent defense practices and know what you’re doing, you deserve to probably regulate just fine through this lightweight alternative. But average Windows users don’t always follow proper protection practices and have to use a solid antivirus that does well in tests — as Microsoft themselves now recommfinish.

If you’re a geek, you probably shouldn’t recommend MSE to your friends or install it on your parents’ computer. Yes, it’s a shame — MSE’s lightweight and also hassle-cost-free nature make for a good interconfront and also a faster computer. But the core of an antivirus is the detection engine, and Microsoft appears to be throwing in the towel right here.

So What Should You Use?

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To find an antivirus product that actually uses excellent protection, consult an antivirus test website and also check out just how your antivirus of option stacks up. If you don’t feel choose doing all that research yourself, luckily we’ve done it for you.

You have the right to watch our complete list of recommendations in this article, but when it comes to the best antivirus on the market, Kaspersky continuously ranks in the top of both the AV-Test and AV-Comparatives ranmajesties, and we’ve provided it through excellent results. It isn’t complimentary, yet the majority of of the totally free antivirus out tright here is bundling added nonsense these days. If you must use somepoint totally free but aren’t satisfied with MSE’s security, Avira Free Antivirus is a decent, not-too-intrusive alternative.

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We’d choose to apologize for continuing to recommfinish Microsoft Security Essentials for so lengthy, in spite of the poor test results. We uncovered it worked for us and also we didn’t choose just how hefty and obnoxious various other antivirus remedies can be. We believed Microsoft as soon as they said that MSE gave “in-depth malware protection” for real-people dangers and that antivirus tests weren’t representative of real-people outcomes, as MSE percreated well for us. We feel betrayed by Microsoft — they made an internal decision to let MSE decrease without telling its users. They’re still interacting 2 different messperiods — one to antivirus experimentation companies in interviews and one to average users on their webwebsite.