It's been two or three weeks since Microsoft released, to no fanfare whatsoever, version 2 of Security Essentials (MSE), the beta (illustrated in the above video) having been available since July 2010. This is their free security solution for Vista and Windows 7. And yes, XP too. Although you won't find that fact advertised too prominently, there's a good argument saying that XP still represents the biggest nest of exploited vulnerabilities out there.
Superficially similar to its predecessor, September 2009's Morro (itself the successor to the subscription-based Windows Live OneCare), MSE2 offers real-time protection for "your home PC", guarding against malicious software such as viruses, worms, and various other malware / spyware. But in fact MSE2 offers quite a lot more in terms of integration, with for example IE, and Windows Firewall.
Network based exploits are defended against by the new Network Inspection System. Overall performance is improved, detection and cleanup capabilities enhanced. Then too, there's...
- control of the maximum CPU usage during scheduled scans (default 50%);
- automatic removal of quarantined files after a given time (disabled by default);
- the option to opt out of Microsoft SpyNet (not recommended!);
- fine grained control of real-time protection functionality.
Free download: http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/