Can I use Microsoft Security Essentials with Windows 8?

A reader writes:

Can I use Microsoft Security Essentials with Windows 8?

No—but you don’t need to. Windows 8 includes Windows Defender, a program that provides enhanced protection against viruses and spyware.

Learn more about Windows 8

If your computer is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, we recommend downloading Microsoft Security Essentials or another antivirus program. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* product that helps protect your computer against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Download Microsoft Security Essentials

For more information on using antivirus software with Windows, see How to get rid of a computer virus.

* Internet access fees may apply while you are downloading the software. To install Microsoft Security Essentials, you must be running genuine Windows on your computer. 

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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  1. Anonymous

    Yeah.. but WIndows Vista and Windows Seven have also Windows Defender. Why is it useless on Windows 8 ?

  2. Anonymous

    My Antivirus was turned off and I cant get it back on..its Micropsft essentila

  3. Anonymous

    i like microsoft security essentials because it works so help me get it back.

  4. yuhong2

    STL: Windows Defender only had anti spyware protection in older versions of Windows.

  5. Anonymous

    Unlike previous windows, in windows 8, Windows Defender has Security Essentials integrated inside the program.

  6. Anonymous

    To answer 'STL's question, MSE is basically Windows Defender with an antivirus engine, thus, MSE includes WD. Windows 8 includes MSE which provides protection against both spyware and viruses while in Windows 7 and Vista, only protection for spyware was provided in Windows Defender. Windows 8 already has MSE embedded and thus, installing it manually is not required. Installing any other antivirus with antispyware protection should disable MSE automatically during setup as it is not recommended to install and use more then one antivirus or antispyware application at once.

  7. Anonymous

    running XP Pro. My MS Essentials scan came up with a potential treat it couldn't clean, and suggested I  Download Defender, run offline to remove malicious threat. I did, but defender scan says no threats detected and everything is "normal". But happens each time I boot.  Can anyone help?  Thanks

  8. Anonymous

    Defender on Win 8 is Security Essentials. It uses the same engine and malware definition files.

  9. Anonymous

    i like microsft security because it takes longer when securing my computer . please help me to get it

  10. Anonymous

    Can I download Security Essentials if I have AVG on my computer? Should I take AVG off?

  11. Anonymous

    I still have Windows XP on my computer…does that make a difference?

  12. Anonymous

    @ STL

    Q—Why is it useless on Windows 8 ?

    A—Because windows 8 has no way of know if it is running since it is hidden from the task menu. It should have been better plan and code but it was not. It is suppose to be better than Windows Vista and 7 but is not.


    Q– Can anyone help?

    A—Get Malwarebytes Anti Malware and scan with that. it. Do it in safe mode is the best option.


    Q—Can I download Security Essentials if I have AVG on my computer? Should I take AVG off?

    A— No, you can not have two programs running. You will have to decided if you want AVG or MSE. If you are happy with AVG, keep it. If you are not happy, try MSE and see if you like it better. If not, try Avast or other free program.

    Q—does that make a difference?

    A—No there is no difference. Windows XP is the best OS that MS ever made. Keep it as long as possible.

  13. Anonymous

    I can't get my windows firewall to turn on. Computer came with Macafee on it and had so problem with the metro apps then for some reason won't do updates or let me access IE from apps. Tried a lot of things on the  forum page. I have finally taken off Macafee and the windows defender came on but still no firewall. I checked the forums again and tried what was suggested with no luck. Really getting tired of this problem. I now know it is not just something with my computer that there as been issues since last year so  WHY has it not been addressed by Microsoft?

  14. Anonymous

    Installing antivirus/antispyware software did disable Windows Defender in Windows 8. Is there a way to turn it on temporarily to do a manual scan?

  15. Anonymous


    No, there is no way. You wold have to remove antivirus/antispyware that you installed than turn on Defender.

  16. Anonymous

    Question:  Can I download this even if I already have an anti- virus program on my Windows 7 computer?

  17. Anonymous

    I have installed Windows 8 Pro. The talk of the antivirus built into Windows 8 is very good. But, from the talk the feel is that it might just not be sufficient for advanced activities like doing banking and the likes…Microsoft mentions it but does not go all the way to explain its real capabilities and sell the proposition against third party applications like Norton 360. This does not give confidence to the user prompting him/her to spend money where it really might not be needed. There is a need for MS to establish its antivirus software as cutting edge or make sure that its Windows 8/8.1 is so secure that there is minimal need for such software for which MS Defender is just sufficient. A real push to educate  the users is a real need….

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