Back when we were counting the days until the demise of Windows XP, there was some back and forth over whether or not Microsoft would continue to support Microsoft Security Essentials, its free antivirus software, for XP. Initial rumors said yes, Redmond said no, it would support it for another year.
So, hot on the heels of XP being put out to pasture, users began reporting to the site Hot Hardware that they were experiencing problems with MSE. The main problem is that the PC will "slow to a crawl," as it described one person's experience.
Users have also found problems with MsMpEng.exe, the MSE engine, which might come up while booting the PC. MsMpEng.exe already has a track record for consuming huge amounts of system resources, but this seems to be worse.
The folks at Hot Hardware suggest disabling MSE through the services.msc app you can run from the command line, but it can also be removed via the app remover feature in the Control Panel.
No sooner had the story posted last week that the comment section flooded with complaints of people experiencing the same problems. So why would MSE suddenly go bad? Well for starters, Microsoft always issues an update to MSE on Patch Tuesday to catch new malware, and this past month was no different. So it could just be that MSE has a bad update that needs to be fixed with a patch. So, can people wait until May for a fix?
Requests to Microsoft for comment were not returned.
So what to do? Well, MSE was never intended as a first line of defense. It was always considered (even by Microsoft) as a good backup to commercial antivirus products like Kaspersky and ESET. So if it's giving you trouble and you have a better solution, you should remove it.
There are also free AV products out there that are superior to MSE, like Avira and AVG, which you should consider even if MSE isn't giving you problems.