October 4, 2009 2 Comments
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying out Microsoft Security Essentials. This is Microsoft’s new, free anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware tool. For a long time I’ve been using either NOD32 by Eset or Sophos as my AV of choice but I figured I’d give this a go.
My primary requirement of any tool like this is that I should not even know it’s there. I will, at a push, concede to having a single, small icon in the system tray but there had better not been any popups or nags or hellos or splash screens or any of that crap unless there’s an actual, real live virus emergency. And, it had better not interfere with the normal running of my machine or my productivity. I don’t ask much, see ? Both NOD32 and Sophos are excellent in all these respects. Completely reliable when you need them and virtually invisible when you don’t.
The machine I ran Microsoft Security Essentials on was my 2 year old work-horse laptop, i.e. the machine I use most of the time, most of the day. It’s a Dell Latitude D830 with a 2Ghz Core 2 Duo CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 200GB 7200 RPM disk and a wide screen 1680 x 1050 TFT driven by a 256MB NVidia Quadro NVS 140M graphics card. I am running a fairly clean build of Windows 7 which performs like lightening and is an absolute joy to use. It is, in short, a pretty good laptop.
Microsoft Security Essentials behaved impecably to begin with. It was quick and easy to download, install and configure and it ran silently in the background without seeming to get in the way. But then the trouble started. Specifically, I noticed a problem with audio playback. It was most apparent with video and especially flash. What I was getting was frequent, irregular buzzes, blips and judders in the audio. This was happening in flash, video players and even in media players when I was just playing MP3s. In Windows Media Player I could actually produce the problem by resizing or moving windows around on the desktop while audio was playing.
I tried various configuration changes, killing as many other processes on the system as I could, reinstalling audio drivers etc but all to no avail. Needless to say Microsoft Security Essentials has now been uninstalled and the problem vanished instantly. Obviously this may be a very isolated case related to my specific setup but I’d be ineterested to know if anyone else has similar problems.