As the competition complains about Microsoft offering its free anti-virus software through Windows Update, the developers in Redmond have been busy working on a new version of the Security Essentials suite. The latest update brings the software to version 2.0 - which has been in beta since July of this year - introducing a number of important new features.
The biggest of these is the addition of a heuristics engine. In anti-virus parlance, this is a predictive virus detection engine that will pick up on suspicious behavior and shut it down, even if the program in question isn't in MSE's virus database. While this is likely to result in a few false positives, it should provide much better protection than just relying on a predefined list.
Version 2.0 also integrates the ability to control the Windows Firewall from with Security Essentials, consolidating all of the Microsoft security tools into a single interface. Lastly, the software has been given the ability to inspect network traffic, meaning that some malicious code can be detected in transit and stopped before it even gets close to your computer.
We're big fans of MSE for its competent detection performance, its amazingly small impact on system resources and, of course, the price tag.
The update should be pushed to users automatically, although it can be updated manually from within the program or by downloading the MSE 2.0 installer directly from Microsoft.