Microsoft Security Essentials Picks Up Market Share

Microsoft did its Windows customers a solid when it released its Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) antivirus software as a free download. That in and of itself is nothing to write home about, but the program is actually good -- very good -- at detecting and neutralizing security threats, both in real-time and after they've already occurred. Reviews of MSE are typically positive, and that's not lost on Windows users.

According to a report published by OPSWAT, a software development company based in San Francisco, MSE is fast becoming one of the most popular antivirus programs out there. In terms of worldwide market share, MSE is the third most popular antivirus program with a 10.08 percent share, trailing AVG (10.96 percent), Avira (11.65 percent), and Avast (16.26 percent). MSE sits ahead of heavy hitting AV programs like ESET (10.06 percent), Symantec (9.97 percent), Kaspersky (7.75 percent), McAfee (4.74 percent), and several others, and also recorded the biggest market share gain of the bunch in the past year.

In North America, MSE is the second most preferred antivirus program with a 14.92 percent, a little more than a percentage point behind Symantec (16.09 percent).

"Symantec continues to lead the North American antivirus market at the beginning of 2012 with 16.09%, a slight decrease from their 16.65% in 2011," OPSWAT notes. "Microsoft leaped from fourth to second place in this year’s ranking with an increase from 9.94 to 14.92% over the last year."

Which antivirus program do you use?