How Microsoft Security Essentials is different from Windows Defender

MSE vs Defender

Many users may have noticed that they are unable to install Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 8 that is because the OS comes with Windows Defender built-in. This may cause some confusion and questions among users such as: Which is the difference between the two security software? Which of the two is better? Wasn’t Windows Defender just an anti-spyware software? In this article we are going to clear-up these questions and if you have to be worry about being protected about the box. 

Let start by saying that these are two different products but also similar. It all depends which operating system version you are using:

Windows Defender on Windows 7, Vista and XP is a simple security software that detects and it is also capable of removing spyware (only) in your system. It was never designed to protect against viruses, worms, Trojans or malicious software that may harm you system.

Microsoft Security Essentials (a.k.a MSE) for the same line of operating systems is a more complete AV solution. The software giant designed MSE as a Windows real-time protection, and it does a really great job detecting and removing viruses, Trojans, rootkits, worms or malware, and spyware for its price ($0).

One thing to keep in mind is that they do not play well together, to avoid problems by default “Security Essentials” disables “Defender” during install. However, sometimes MSE doesn’t automatically disable Windows Defender, in this case you’ll need to manually do this task or perform an uninstall, because both software running together can cause PC performance issues and conflicts between the two services.

Now, there is also a new Windows Defender for Windows 8 that you don’t need to install, because it comes built-in with the operating system. This version for Win 8 does offer anti-spyware protection, plus virus, worm, Trojan and malicious software protection as well. This means that you don’t need Microsoft Security Essentials, moreover Windows 8 will not allow you to install MSE.

Below there are a couple of screenshots which show Windows Defender for Windows 8 and Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7 and previous versions.

Here are some additional things you should know with Windows Defender for Win 8: If another AV software is installed, Defender will detect it and it will automatically disable itself to avoid performance and conflict issues. But Microsoft’s AV solution will keep an eye for updates in the current antivirus solution for 15 days. During this period the end-user will be notified if the current installed antivirus becomes out of date. Then if the user doesn’t proceed and resolve the problem, Windows 8 will ask the user to use Windows Defender, or any other compatible security solution.

Wrapping up

If you are running Windows 8 your computer is protected from the beginning with Windows Defender and it works pretty well, but if you prefer a full-featured AV solution you’ll have to go with third-party solution. There are already many big names like Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton and others that now support Windows 8 — use the link to learn more –. In the case you are running Windows 7 or a previous version of the operating system, for sure you should at least install Microsoft Security Essentials.

Source Microsoft Answers Q1Q2, and Ghacks

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].