Microsoft Security Essentials 4.0 free PC security software ready for download

Microsoft Security Essentials 4.0 free PC security software ready for download

Summary: Microsoft has released a new version of its Security Essentials software for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 PCs.


Microsoft made available for download a new release of its free anti-virus/anti-malware program for Windows PCs, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), on April 24.

The MSE 4.0 release is available via the Microsoft Download Center and the MSE Web site. (I learned of its availability from a post on Neowin today.) The latest version runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

The 4.0 version has been in beta since late 2011. As ZDNet sister site TechRepublic reported back in December 2011, Microsoft officials said the 4.0 release would include a streamlined interface; a renamed version of the SpyNet service (now slated to be known as Microsoft Active Protection Services); new automatic remediation functionality; and overall improved performance and detection capabilities.

I've asked Microsoft officials if there's anything else worth noting that is part of the new release. Here's the statement from a spokesperson:

"This update to Microsoft Security Essentials is part of the standard product update release cycle. This service update contains product enhancements to improve performance and user experience. We have improved on Microsoft Security Essentials’ Automatic Remediation, which will automatically quarantine highly harmful threats without prompting the user to take action as well as minor bug fixes in set up, malware remediation and other areas."

I just checked to see what version of MSE I was running on my Windows 7 PC and it was a 2.X release. I'm wondering whether that means Microsoft doesn't push updates of this service to users via Windows Update or whether the most recent release before this one was 2.X.

The aforementioned spokesperson did say, when I asked, that "this version of Microsoft Security Essentials will be made available to existing customers automatically through the Microsoft Update service."

Just a reminder about MSE's origins: MSE was aimed first and foremost at users who either can’t or won’t pay for antivirus/anti-malware software, with the idea being that more secure Windows PCs mean less security risks for all Windows users. With MSE, there is no registration required, no trials with an expiration date or required renewals. But Microsoft does restrict the MSE download (both the beta and final) to PCs running Genuine Windows (which has been authenticated as non-pirated).

Topics: Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Security, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Previous version

    The previous version was MSE 2.1. They are pushing 4.0 out via Microsoft Update.
    • Exactly

      I also have version 2.1 and I'm quite sure it was the newest available. I wonder what happened to number 3...
  • Watch out Google Chrome

    Quoted in the article:
    [i]We have improved on Microsoft Security Essentials??? Automatic Remediation, which will automatically quarantine highly harmful threats without prompting the user to take action[/i]
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • My Favorite Antivirus utility

    This is the only AV I have seen done a good job at detecting and removing Shortcut Antivirus. Have it installed on 70 PC's at work. Thanks Microsoft. Every PC I get my hands on I load it on.
    • Me too

      I have tried almost all of the available AVs during these years. The only AV which runs without headache is the free MS AV.

      Microsoft's decision that they should not wait for others to protect Windows was the best possible. Windows is a very much secure OS now.
    • RE: My Favorite Antivirus utility

      adacosta38 wrote:
      [i]Have it installed on 70 PC's at work[/i]

      Have you looked at Microsoft's EULA for Security Essentials?
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Have you looked at Microsoft's EULA for Security Essentials?

        They probably haven't. They're shills who only post here everytime a new MS product comes out.
      • Have you looked at Microsoft's EULA for Security Essentials?

        [b]They probably haven't. They're shills who only post here everytime a new MS product comes out. [/b]


        You can flag my post over and over again, but I'll just re-post it over and over again. That fact that you're doing it means I speak the truth and you're scared of it.

        You need to understand this, fanboys. I will not be silenced.
    • Woa !!

      Hey, careful there buddy, last I remember MSE has a limit of 10 pc's under a work environment, for larger enterprises Microsoft recommends their paid solution. (of course if they've changed the license for MSE 4, and is now for unlimited PC's i'll be the first to demand we get rid of anything Symantec here)
      • If you like MSE

        Forefront is the same thing with better enterprise level controls. Certainly preferred to spending money on SEP.
    • I too have placed this on every machine I work with...

      my kids machines, my main home machine and my families machines. All of them get this software. It works great, and to date no malware issues.
    • insane to use MSE

      I was using MSE for all work PCs believing based on user reports it was good. It let Windows Process Accelerator virus right on past! This is along the lines of all those fake anti-virus viruses. Every AV on planet blocks these ACCEPT MSE! I'm wondering if Microsoft has some grand conspiracy going to allow the OS to irreparably damaged so that people go buy their newest OS. I hate hate hate you Microsoft for making my IT job hell.
      • ...especially if you have a large number of work PCs..

        MSE, as mentioned by others, isn't meant as an enterprise solution and is not licensed for sites with a large number of PCs. Regardless of its ability to stop viruses, you'd be insane to open your company up to an audit by violating your license.
      • Not true

        Just acquired the same virus you mentioned a week ago on my McAfee supposedly protected machine. I understand this type of virus is very hard to detect. After rebuilding my machine, I'm using MSE not McAfee.
      • yup

        I am a service technician who removes viruses on a daily basis and hands down the most commonly infected machines I see are running MSE. My advice to them is to choose another. Just because you use MSE and you havnt got a virus, doesnt mean its effectively protecting you.
        Scarface Claw
  • MSE is inbuilt into Windows 8

    I was using the 2.x version when I joined the beta program of the new version few months back on my Windows 7 PC. So I expected it to be version 3.0. But what the heck, how does a version jump make a difference? That said, its the most effective and non obtrusive AV I've come across.

    What I'm interested in knowing is, which is the version that ships built in with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview? And hopefully 4.0 will be baked in with the upcoming Release Preview.
    Hotmail Alias
  • it should be preinstalled, just works!!

    Great product, absolute no impact on performance and non intrusive as it should be
    • Windows 8...

      It is included in Windows 8, continuing to use the Windows Defender name, though, which I find very confusing, but whatever... the point is that it's there-- as it should.
      • Until the anti-virus companies sue...

        ...for bundling. Then we'll see how long that lasts. ;)
      • I woulnd't be so sure about the word "should"

        Department of Justice had already some issues about bundling IE and killing off Netscape in 2000, also there were some issue regarding MSE, just like email client, so that Windows 7 came with only the link to download Windows Live Essentials. MS was also obligated to make similar thing here in Europe with the Browsers Selection Screen (I'm not sure of the name), which I found silly, but surely it presented users with a choice they would probably not think of if not given this option.

        I haven't had chance to check it on Win8, but one think I'm sure is that it's better if some part of software, like AV, wasn't included but easily accessible through a choice of links to different products.