While Symantec and other antivirus firms may make gibes at Microsoft's free Security Essentials antivirus, Microsoft reportedly offered the product in order to increase AV coverage in regions where people can't afford to pay for one. At least, that's the reason they gave, and at first glance it appears MSE is making some headway.
According to Microsoft
, in the first week they saw over 1.5 million downloads of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). At the same time, the company reported only 535,752 distinct PCs running the software (hey, where'd the rest go?). However, the companycounted four million malware detections on those machines, which is the main reason they released MSE anyway. so all is not lost.
In terms of OS usage, 44% of MSE users are running Windows 7, followed by XP at 33% and Vista at 23%. Poor Vista, still trailing XP. Despite the platform distribution, 52% of detections were on XP PCs, while Vista was next, with 32% of detections. Windows 7 was last, or rather, lowest, with 16%.
Microsoft also tried to pitch the above numbers as evidence that Windows 7 is more secure than the other OSes, by noting that there are far more detections per machine in the older OSes. Interesting, particularly since the Windows 7 PCs outnumbered the XP and Vista machines.
By looking at detections divided by active Microsoft Security Essentials machines over the whole population, we see far more detections per XP machine, with the fewest from Win7. This follows our usual observed trend of seeing less malware on newer OSes and service packs.
OK, that's a good sales pitch for next week's Windows 7 release, isn't it?
At the same time, the nature of the malware found differed from country to country. Trojans were the top detected category in the U.S. Meanwhile, there were many exploits being encountered in China, which Microsoft attributed to PCs without the latest security updates. And that would happen if, perhaps, ahem, the PCs had pirated OSes and couldn't get said updates.
At any rate, this is a pretty good start for Microsoft's security offering. In reality, Symantec and the like can deny any worries, and they'd be right. Those firms that really need to worry about MSE are AVG, Avast, and other free AV vendors, who many feel the impact soon.