‘Microsoft Security Essentials’ has been around for quite some time in different names (Microsoft Defender being its previous incarnation). Now it is available for free from the Microsoft site.
Microsoft is not probably the best when it comes to protecting the computer from viruses, at least traditionally. Norton and McAfee dominates this space.
When we migrated our operating system to Windows 7 last year, I decided to give Microsoft Essentials a try for a few months.
I downloaded it from here or click on the below image to go directly to the download page.
The installation is quite smooth. It is better not to have other anti-virus / anti-spyware programs active when you install this. If you have other anti-virus programs installed, disable it before you install this.
I like its clean look. There are not too many options to mess around with, which makes it easy to use in my opinion. There really is nothing much to do from the user once it is installed.
The virus definitions are updated online automatically. The virus definitions appear to be updated very frequently, I see it getting updated every day or so, which I think makes it effective.
See the settings page in the screenshot above. I like the fact that the CPU usage can be limited during a scheduled scan. This really helps when a scheduled scan is kicked off when you are in the midst of doing something else and the scan eats up most of the CPU-cycles which in-turn slows you down. By limiting the CPU usage to 50% or even less, your activities on the computer will not be hindered when a scheduled scan kicks off.
I have used it for more than an year now and am very satisfied with it. Again, you really cannot rate an anti-virus unless it gets hit by a virus and see how effectively it handles that virus. But the fact that I have not been hit by a virus so far makes this anti-virus effective for me at least until now.