Whoops!

Microsoft Security Essentials became the only free antivirus software that failed to receive certification in a new round of tests over at AV-Test. All other antivirus programs received the certification — from paid software to free solutions like Avast! and AVG.

The tests were conducted on the Windows 7 platform during September and October.

Worryingly, Microsoft’s antivirus application recorded a detection rate of 69% in September, which further fell to 64% in October. This was for protection against 0-day malware attacks via web and email. This is a far cry from the industry average of 89%.

Security Essentials, however, came out good when it came to detection of widespread and prevalent malware, matching the 100% average of other products. It’s only the new threats it falters against. The company explained on the test results page:

“During September and October 2012 we continuously evaluated 24 home user security products using their default settings. We always used the most current publicly-available version of all products for the testing. They were allowed to update themselves at any time and query their in-the-cloud services”.

This nevertheless is alarming, and Microsoft would do well to pay more attention to its security solution or license a few technologies from other security solutions providers to improve the software.

The reason? Microsoft Security Essentials is the most popular antivirus product in North America (second most popular in the world). Its has exploded in popularity over the past couple of years, and losing the AV-Test Certification will reflect poorly on the software.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs on Windows XP, Vista and 7, but not on Windows 8, which comes with its own built-in antiviral component.

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