Microsoft Free Antivirus Most Preferred, Says Report

Dennis Faas's picture

According to a new report, Microsoft Security Essentials has been downloaded 30 million times and is ranked as one of the most widely-used, free antivirus programs for Windows. The report comes from OPSWAT, a San Francisco-based software security firm.

In the study, 43,000 computer users were surveyed. Of those surveyed, just under 11 per cent were running Microsoft Security Essentials free antivirus software. Coming in second place was Avira Antivir Personal at 10.18 per cent, followed by AVAST! Free antivirus at 8.66 per cent. (Source:

The report, however, is not without its caveats.

"I'm just not convinced that sample accurately represents the overall consumer market. For a more comprehensive and accurate view of the category, I suggest looking at market share data provided by leading industry analysts," says one senior product manager at Symantec.

Free Antivirus Over Subscription-based Security

The fact is that many users prefer free antivirus software, even if other reports suggest that free security offerings are sub-par.

For example, another recent report suggests that Microsoft Security Essentials ranked third last in a comparison of 26 other antivirus programs.

So, what makes Microsoft Security Essentials so incredibly popular?

OPSWAT says it has a lot to do with the fact that protection is offered through Windows Update. In essence, it's easy for users to get a hold of Security Essentials, and also easy to find upgrades for the software. (Source:

Other critics suggest that the Microsoft name adds legitimacy to the product.

Anti-Competitive Complaints Continue to Mount

Some antivirus software developers complain that this practice borders on anti-competitiveness on the part of Microsoft, not unlike the company's bundling of the Internet Explorer web browser alongside Windows in the past.

Microsoft first launched Security Essentials in 2009 as a replacement for its failed subscription-based antivirus program OneCare Live. The first version of the free software was released in late 2010.

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