Let start by saying that these are two different products but also similar. It all depends which operating system version you are using: Windows Defender on Windows 7, Vista and XP is a simple security software that detects and it is also capable of removing spyware (only) in your system. It was never designed to protect against viruses, worms, Trojans or malicious software that may harm you system. Microsoft Security Essentials (a.k.a MSE) for the same line of operating systems is a more complete AV solution. The software giant designed MSE as a Windows real-time protection, and it does a really great job detecting and removing viruses, Trojans, rootkits, worms or malware, and spyware for its price ($0). One thing to keep in mind is that they do not play well together, to avoid problems by default “Security Essentials” disables “Defender” during install. However, sometimes MSE doesn’t automatically disable Windows Defender, in this case you’ll need to manually do this task or perform an uninstall, because both software running together can cause PC performance issues and conflicts between the two services. Now, there is also a new Windows Defender for Windows 8 that you don’t need to install, because it comes built-in with the operating system. This version for Win 8 does offer anti-spyware protection, plus virus, worm, Trojan and malicious software protection as well. This means that you don’t need Microsoft Security Essentials, moreover Windows 8 will not allow you to install MSE. Below there are a couple of screenshots which show Windows Defender for Windows 8 and Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7 and previous versions. Here are some additional things you should know with Windows Defender for Win 8: If another AV software is installed, Defender will detect it and it will automatically disable itself to avoid performance and conflict issues. But Microsoft’s AV solution will keep an eye for updates in the current antivirus solution for 15 days. During this period the end-user will be notified if the current installed antivirus becomes out of date. Then if the user doesn’t proceed and resolve the problem, Windows 8 will ask the user to use Windows Defender, or any other compatible security solution.

Wrapping up

If you are running Windows 8 your computer is protected from the beginning with Windows Defender and it works pretty well, but if you prefer a full-featured AV solution you’ll have to go with third-party solution. There are already many big names like Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton and others that now support Windows 8 — use the link to learn more –. In the case you are running Windows 7 or a previous version of the operating system, for sure you should at least install Microsoft Security Essentials. Source Microsoft Answers Q1, Q2, and Ghacks All content on this site is provided with no warranties, express or implied. Use any information at your own risk. Always backup of your device and files before making any changes. Privacy policy info.