Microsoft never said you need to install another antivirus along with Security Essentials

When Microsoft launched Microsoft Security Essentials back in 2009, it led to objections from various antivirus companies, saying that software like this should not come along with Windows, and that Microsoft may not be able to do a good job at delivering a good security solution. PC Pro is now reporting that “Microsoft has admitted Windows users should install antivirus above and beyond its own Security Essentials, describing its protection as merely a baseline that will always be on the bottom of antivirus software rankings.”

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PC Pro says that,

Microsoft has admitted Windows users should install antivirus above and beyond its own Security Essentials and that  it sees Security Essentials as merely the first layer of protection, advising customers to use additional, third-party antivirus.

Did Microsoft really mean that? Would they say their security offering – in effect – sucks? Now that is not what Microsoft actually said, in my opinion!

Microsoft never said you need to install another antivirus along with Security Essentials

Lets see what Holly Stewart, senior program manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, told Dennis Technology Labs:

We had an epiphany a few years ago, back in 2011, where we realized we had a greater callingand that was to protect all Microsoft customers.

What Microsoft has said in effect, that protecting Windows users is of paramount importance to them and for this, they now even share all their data with other antivirus software companies.

We’re providing all of that data and information to our partners so they can do at least as well as we are. The natural progression is that we will always be on the bottom of these tests. And honestly, if we are doing our job correctly, that’s what will happen.

This will help other antivirus companies to do at least as well as Security Essentials. Its objective is not to be the best antivirus software, but to ensure that any antivirus software is as good as, if not better, than Microsoft Security Essentials. This in effect will result in better protection overall for the Windows user, regardless of which security software he or she uses.

We used to have part of our team directed towards predicting test results and figuring out what might be in someone’s test. There’s always a cost to that. We put half of those people on focusing on what we call prevalent threats. We developed this new telemetry to look for emerging threats – sort of an early notification system that new threats were emerging. We had this group of folks start focusing on those threatsand we saw that it increased our protection service level for our customers.

While its is true that MSE has not done too well in some recent AV tests, in fact appearing near the bottom of the heap, it is well-known that it is not very difficult to game the tests. What these statements mean is that Microsoft will now focus on tracking emerging threats and sharing that data within the security industry, in the larger interest of the Windows user, so that other antivirus companies will also factor these inputs into their protection, thereby making its own offering, the baseline. Microsoft thus wants everyone else to do better than them, because they know that makes it harder for the bad guys, which ultimately benefits the Windows user.

Windows 8 ships with Windows Defender. Most Windows 8 users have bought the new operating system, knowing very well that it ships with Windows Defender, a free antivirus software, and they therefore assume that their computer is well-protected. So would Microsoft really say that, its antivirus software sucks, don’t count on it and install additional antivirus software? I don’t think so. Would Microsoft offer half a security software? I don’t think so; because having an incompetent antivirus software is sometimes, worse than having no antivirus software installed!

My thoughts:

I therefore feel that the statements may have been quoted out of context and some journalistic liberties taken while arriving at the conclusion that “Microsoft has admitted Windows users should install antivirus above and beyond its own Security Essentials and that  it sees Security Essentials as merely the first layer of protection, advising customers to use additional, third-party antivirus.”

Microsoft has in fact, clearly stated that:

It’s not a good idea to run other antivirus or antispyware products at the same time as Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Defender.

Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials is good enough for the Windows user who uses the computer for normal browsing, does not want to be bothered with the task of installing a security software and renewing it from time to time. There are many who still run their Windows without installing a security software or run it with an antivirus with an expired license. Security Essentials aims to offer a baseline, feature-less protection for such Windows users. Folks looking for more, can use any other free  antivirus software like Avast or Avira or any free Internet Security Suite for Windows.

Your views?

Thanks Corrine Chorney, MVP, for the links.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com and a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows for the period 2006-16. He enjoys following and reporting Microsoft news and developments in the world of Personal Computing & Social Media.