What’s the Difference between Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender?

I use Windows Defender Offline on a flash drive both at home and at work. On the computers themselves, however, the screen sometimes says Microsoft Security Essentials and other times, it says Windows Defender. I forgot to check if the Windows Defender has Microsoft Security Essentials installed. Does it really matter which one shows up?

Microsoft’s product naming frustrates me to no end. They seem to have an incredible knack for picking the most confusing names possible.

While the names Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender seem innocuous enough, what they mean has changed over time. And therein lies the confusion.

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Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials?

I read an article last week that basically said Microsoft had give up competing with other anti-malware tools and that Microsoft Security Essentials wasn’t going to be any good any more. The article recommended that I quit using it immediately and switch to something else. What do you think? Do I need to stop using Microsoft Security Essentials?


No you don’t. If you’ve been happy with it, you’re perfectly welcome to keep on using it as you have in the past.

To put it a different way, I’m not changing my recommendation. Microsoft Security Essentials remains my recommendation for most people. I’m also not changing what I use myself, which is MSE.

As it turns out, the majority of the “journalism” on the topic over the past couple of weeks has simply been repeating a single source of information. Worse, the repetition included not only a couple of quotes without full context from a Microsoft spokesperson and also additional speculation by the author of that original piece. As the story was repeated, even more speculation was added and assumptions were made.

The result was quite the kerfuffle.

Now, I don’t call myself a “journalist” – I’m just a geek with a voice on the web trying to help people use their computers. But even I know that just repeating and embellishing what others are saying about what others are saying isn’t the right way to approach something like this.

So I took a different approach. I went to the source and contacted Microsoft directly for clarification.

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