Stay away from Microsoft consumer antivirus and antispam engines

by ron on March 7, 2007

OneCareMicrosoft Live OneCare is a consumer product which provides antivirus, antispyware, and backup facilities. It costs $50 per year to protect upto 3 PC systems.

Windows Defender is mainly an anti-spyware technology implemented by Microsoft.

Although it’s great to see that Microsoft are bundling security tools for free (in the case of Windows Defender), or at a fairly cheap cost (in the case of Live OneCare), the most important thing is for these technologies to provide strong security protection. They need to defend well against the increasingly dangerous virus and spyware threats.

As much as I would love to say that these consumer tools are excellent, unfortunately they are not.

In recent tests (February 2007) Windows Defender has been shown to be able to capture only 46.6% to 53.4% of spyware thrown at it.

To make matters worse, Live OneCare recently ranked as the worst consumer antivirus product out of 17 total alternatives. You may want to keep an eye on the status of the rankings to see how the situation may change in the coming months. It’s a shame though that two of my favourite security suites (CheckPoint ZoneAlarm and TrendMicro Internet security suite) are not included in the analysis.

I sincerely hope that Microsoft improve their own antivirus and antispyware solutions as quickly as possible.

In the wake of these negative reports, Microsoft have recently announced that Live OneCare v2.0 will be released in the third quarter of 2007.

Until that happens, I would recommend to implement solutions other than MS Live OneCare and MS Windows Defender in order to protect your consumer systems.

A viable alternative would be to start by choosing one of the best products listed on the antivirus comparison site, and then choose an “internet security bundle” solution from that vendor, which typically includes at least a personal firewall, antivirus and antispyware.

Note that not all of the most popular antivirus solutions are tracked by the above antivirus comparison site. In fact, some of the most popular security suites are missing from their analysis results. Other popular antivirus suites are provided by CheckPoint and TrendMicro. I personally use a mix of both of these last two security suites on my various consumer systems.


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