If you still support Windows XP (I’m sure a lot of you do), you are probably aware that the anti-malware software Microsoft Security Essentials has not been available for download (at least from Microsoft) since official support for Windows XP ended last year. However, previous installations of MSE continued to receive updates. According to Microsoft’s web site, July 14, 2015 is the last day that updates to Microsoft Security Essentials will be provided (along with the Malicious Software Removal Tool). Check your calendars because that day is today!
A lot of us deployed Microsoft Security Essentials because it was free, relatively lightweight, and perhaps most importantly, did not bug the user with unnecessary security warnings and/or advertisements intended to upsell them. We were biding our time with MSE on Windows XP as users migrated away from that operating system, but many users still use XP with older hardware that is in good shape or through virtual machines. Now that MSE is effectively dead (barring any last minute change of heart from Microsoft), we must transition our XP users to a different anti-malware software.
There are many solid free anti-virus solutions available, especially for XP machines that are serving a limited use, like a lot of installations running under virtual machines do. The problem is that most free anti-malware softwares nag the heck out of users with upsell ads or unnecessary security warnings (which are often merely upsell attempts themselves). So far in my testing, I’ve found that Panda Free Anti-Virus 2015 can be configured to not display ads by turning off “Show Panda news” in its settings screen. This setting is found in the General section by scrolling all the way down. Also, during installation, make sure to deselect installing its browser toolbar option as well as changing the default search engine to Yahoo.
What free anti-virus solutions have you found to be the most unobtrusive for your users?