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Microsoft Security Essentials: Why jump from 2 to 4?

Previously, I mentioned that Microsoft Security Essentials v4.0 is on its way, though there is no version 3.0. Well, I think I discovered the reason behind the version hop. Here are two screenshots from About dialog boxes of Microsoft Security Essentials v2.1 on Windows 7 and Microsoft Security Essentials v4.0 Beta on Windows XP, which help shed a light on the matter.

There are a handful of version numbers listed in each dialog box but the only two that concern us are Security Essentials Version and Antimalware Client Version. In Microsoft Security Essentials v4.0, both version numbers are 4.0.1113.0. In Microsoft Security Essentials v2.1 however, the Security Essentials Version is 2.1.1116.0 while the Antimalware Client Version is 3.0.8402.0.

According to Microsoft, all modern Microsoft antivirus products use the same antimalware engine. While the graphical user interface of v2.1 (msseces.exe) dates back to 16 June 2011, its antimalware engine (MsMpEng.exe, MpCmdRun.exe and NisSrv.exe) is updated on 28 April 2011. (Check the included digital certificates on the mentioned files.) In v4.0 however, both the engine and the client are new. It is my guess that Microsoft meant to unify the version numbers with this new release, just as it did to Movie Maker and Microsoft Office products.

Idiosyncrasies of an antivirus: ESET NOD32

Update (2012-03-03): Added screenshots of ESET Smart Security 5.

Over the past three months, I had the misfortune of having to work in an environment whose computers have either ESET NOD32 or ESET Smart Security as their antivirus and/or firewall software. Both have been driving me mad.

The biggest problem is when it finds a virus: It asks me if I actually want to clean or delete it! Is it under the assumption that I might say “no, in fact please duplicate it and make sure it infects the computer”? But that is not the worst part: The moment I respond, it shows another prompt. Sometimes more than a hundred appear one after the other. The prompts are modal; they prevent me from working with the computer unless I answer them. That usually means thirteen minutes lost.

ESET Smart Security is even more crazy: Sometimes, without any warning it shows me a dialog box that asserts the computer is now connected to a new network and whether I trust that network and want to have file sharing allowed. No matter what I respond, ESET Smart Security follows up with an error message: Cannot save the configuration! This is probably due my user account not having administrative privileges, which is an excuse worse than the sin itself: Saving application settings should not require administrative privileges.

I’d very much love to capture a video of all these idiosyncrasies but due to lack of administrative privileges, I cannot install a screencasting program.

Indeed I am grateful that Microsoft released Microsoft Security Essentials. Its mass handling of detected infections is simply great: Microsoft Security Essentials first disables the detected infections. Then, it adds its details to a list of detected infections that user can visit at any time and take action. If the user decided not to visit, Microsoft Security Essentials would automatically take a default action (usually clean or quarantine).

Fortunately, many other antivirus products have followed suit.

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