Microsoft Security Essentials vs. The Other Free AV Guys

I’ve tried AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, avast! Home Edition, and now Microsoft Security Essentials in order to avoid paying high prices to McAfee and Norton for products that have caused more problems than they solved for myself, my friends, and family.

I’ve only been running Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) for a few days now, but just reading the fine print I can see a clear advantage for this product: MSE’s license agreement allows for use in your home-based small business, while AVG and avast! have strict non-commercial and personal use only clauses. (See Website Copy and End User License Agreement sections below.) I can think of a handful of friends and family members who would be able to use MSE but not the other guys due to the personal use/non-commercial clauses.

Additionally, MSE doesn’t require you to fill out a form to register the product, it only performs a Windows Genuine Advantage check. Not having to deal with red-tape is always nice.

Lastly, there is no up-sell from MSE. My Grandmother became rather frustrated when AVG kept displaying ads trying to sell her the latest version of the AVG paid edition when AVG 7.5 was retired earlier this year. If I had the choice then, I would have switched her from AVG to MSE.

Website Copy

avast! Home Edition:

avast! Home Edition is free of charge for non-commercial and home use only. Both of these conditions should be met!


AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition may only be used on one computer for personal use.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Your PC must run genuine Windows to install Microsoft Security Essentials.

End User License Agreements

avast! Home Edition:

avast! Home Edition: You may install the Software in a single location on a hard disk or other storage device of all computers located in your HOME, which are used for NONCOMMERCIAL usage only.


AVG Technologies, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, hereby grants to you a non-exclusive and non-transferable license during the Term to use the Software
(i) solely in executable or object code form, on a single computer, and
(ii) solely for your personal use and not for purchase, sale or delivery of any product or service to a third party or other commercial or business purpose, if not explicitly stated in the terms of using the Software otherwise.

Microsoft security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials: You may install and use any number of copies of the software on your devices in your household for use by people who reside there or for use in your home-based small business.

Update for Microsoft Security Essentials (Added 12/6/2010):
Microsoft updated the license agreement for Security Essentials to expand it to small businesses with up to 10 PCs.

1. Home Use. If you are a home user, then you may install and use any number of copies of the software on your personal devices for use by people who reside in your household. As a home user, you may not use the software in any commercial, non-profit, or revenue generating business activities.
2. Small Business. If you operate a small business, then you may install and use the software on up to ten (10) devices in your business.

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