Microsoft Security Essentials Downloaded 1.5 Million Times in First Week

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News Posted: Sat, Oct 17 2009 12:37 AM
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.
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ClemSnide replied on Sat, Oct 17 2009 1:19 AM

I have to admit that I'm not sure how free antivirus vendors stay in business. The two methods I've seen personally have been selling eyespace (ads in their programs or which, ironically, pop up unexpectedly like the viruses they're trying to erase) or getting you to spring for the pay version. The latter seems more responsible and fruitful, assuming that AVG et. al. have a product which (1) outperforms, (2) is easier to use, and (c) costs less (especially with the subscription fee) than the Big Two's offerings... and now Microsoft's as well.

Microsoft's uniqueness comes from the fact that it doesn't sell ads and doesn't have an upgrade path. Much of the complaining I've heard from people, especially older adults, is that they don't accept the subscription model for antivirus protection the way they do for cell phones or cable TV.

So, since they no longer have a lock on (c), the free "vendors" must needs hope for a clear win at (1) or (2).


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realneil replied on Sat, Oct 17 2009 9:28 AM

Clem Snide,........I use AVAST home free anti virus and have no ads pop up ever. It's working well for me as I have not lost data or time to a virus in years. You can buy AVAST professional if you want to, but it's not required, or necessary either.

Over the years I tried McAfee and Norton several times and ended up rebuilding my computer for my troubles. They have always been in the sights of the Virus writing weenies, just as much as Microsoft is. Their code was never much to crow about either, except when they were both brand new companies and before they were bought out by larger companies that didn't know what they were doing. I decided long ago that I wouldn't use either one of them, ever again.

I did download the new Microsoft Security Essentials and installed it beside Avast. They do not conflict with one another so I left it on the system and added it to the laptop too. I'm glad to see Microsoft taking such a proactive stance against virus writers, as it is their code that has been picked apart for years and years. Angry

We have suffered the consequences for it, but have continued to support them.

They own a little responsibility as far as I'm concerned and now they're finally taking it, with a solution that actually works.

Let's see if they're in it for the long run. Hmm

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Oct 17 2009 10:55 AM

Rather than patch things with AV software.  Wouldn't it make more sense to just get rid of the vulnerable components. You know: ntoskrnl.exe, win32k.sys, ntdll.dll, Kernel32.dll, Advapi32.dll, User32.dll, Gdi32.dll....   Stick out tongue

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ClemSnide replied on Sat, Oct 17 2009 12:50 PM

@realneil: The popup ads were from Avira, which had (at the time that I was reformatting Captain Clunker again) the best of the free AV programs. I've since gone back to AVG, but since you can attest that MS's offering coexists peacefully with others, I'll give it a looksee.


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kid007 replied on Sat, Oct 17 2009 1:27 PM

the only reason i use an antivirus is because of my virtual desktop.... it was funny i told the tech i haven't used an antiviruz since 98. he laughed and when he install this stupid AVG and scanned he was amazed that my pc didn't have a viruz...

antivirus are for those that are still looking for warez and porn...

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Oct 17 2009 4:12 PM

>> antivirus are for those that are still looking for warez and porn...

For the most part, that's true.  At least, it's probably how a lot of people get owned.

But, if you connect a freshly installed Windows box directly to a cable/dsl modem (so that you're not using any firewalling), you will get a worm like conflicker in short order. All without ever having to hit any "bad" web site.

A study a few years back on the Internet Storm Center showed that it only took about 20 minutes on average (it's now down to 4 minutes) for a Windows box to get rooted in this manner. Sad thing is, that's faster than you can download and apply the security patches.

So, never rebuild a windows box without a firewall between you and the internet.

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Many of them sell mass rights to large institutions such as businesses and universities. I'm guessing that's how they continue to sell their business.

My university forces Symantec on us, but it has done its job so I'm not complaining. Overall though I would prefer Eset, but I'd rather not have two AV's on the system as that can create problems.

Back to the point, I've heard some very good things about Security Essentials. AV programming should have been available from Windows 95, it's about time Microsoft jumped into the market, they know their own OS best.

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>>> antivirus are for those that are still looking for warez and porn... <<<

Well that explains a lot... Sad

Had a worm scare a few years ago, anyone connecting to the university internet got infected.

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I think they are in it for the long run.

Not having a free antivirus bundled up with their OS has hurt them. Mac has taken advantage of Windows' vulnerability to external attacks and have slowly built up their marketshare.

Security Essentials has been good and I hope it will continue to improve. While additional AV's will always be welcome, the demand/need should go down substantially especially amongst novice users (those most likely to pay full retail for AVs). I hope Norton and McAfee are diversified enough to withstand the transition.

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ClemSnide replied on Sat, Oct 17 2009 5:31 PM

>antivirus are for those that are still looking for warez and porn...

Not quite true. I remember a report on this site about a virus inadvertently rolled into a product driver (can't find it at the moment though). And some are wrapped into things that a new computer user would want-- don't all of us remember browsing all the nifty free software and downloading tons of it? Half of that was probably Trojans.


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