Microsoft Security Essentials is the spiritual successor of Windows Defender, the now old ad-ware and spyware blocker that came default on Windows based operating systems. They took what made Windows Defender good, which was basically the low resource usage and fairly high accuracy when scanning, and made it better. The best part about this is that it’s free to anyone who has a genuine Windows system.
For business use the most common way for a work computer to get a virus or ad-ware is through email. Email attachments are scanning upon receiving them and is completed before the user is allowed to do anything with the attachment. Thankfully this is very fast so you will never notice it scanning before you are allowed to open an attachment. One way a lot of viruses used to get through this scanning was by sending an archived file, Microsoft Security Essentials gets by this by decompressing then scanning before you decompress it yourself. This way if there is a virus hiding in there it will warn you before you let it loose in your computer.
One huge advantage for everyone that has Microsoft Security Essentials is its low resource usage and fast scanning. This means that you can multitask with the scan running with minimal to no slowdown on your computer. So your employees can continue to work while it is scanning or even let it scan over their break and it will be done by the time they get back. This leads to another feature that isn’t new to the anti-virus world and that is scheduled scanning. If setup properly you could have it scan while everyone is out to lunch and they wouldn’t even have to know it scanned their computer, unless of course something was found in which case they could call the IT guys over.
One of the biggest downfalls of Microsoft Security Essentials is that it lacks centralized management features. This means that your IT guys might take a little bit longer than usual making sure everything is running fine on everyone’s computers. This also means that they will not be alerted in real time of any potential threats to the network from their desk. This could pose some problems for some of the larger companies, but if you are a smaller company then this shouldn’t be too big of a deal breaker.
All in all Microsoft Security Essentials is a very good piece of software, but doesn’t come with all the features most business’s require. If you talk with your IT guys and they can work around the downfall of no centralized management and you use Windows on your PC’s then this is a completely free option. Since antivirus’s cost quite a bit for big business this might be the answer to saving a couple of bucks while still providing rock solid protection to your work computers.