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Microsoft Security Essentials begins to nag on January 10

Thanks to a heads-up from DrJacqui (https://www.vistax64.com/browsers-m...tes-crippling-outlook-2000-a.html#post1408870), I was able to capture before-and-after screenshots.

Note that the client version remains the same: only a definition and engine update was required to initiate the infernal nagging (not that disabling definition updates would be a good idea). The link in the "after" screenshot currently leads to a recycled Windows XP notice that does not even mention Vista (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/14223/windows-xp-end-of-support).

This sinister move by Microsoft comes as no surprise considering their history: Microsoft Security Essentials to nag Windows XP users | ZDNet.

Does this mean that those running Vista will not be able to use MSE after April 11? I don't think so, but time will tell. When Microsoft ended support for XP in 2014, they threatened to cut off MSE definition updates for XP in July 2015 (Microsoft antimalware support for Windows XP ? Microsoft Malware Protection Center) - but apparently that never happened: I could easily post links from 2016 showing that XP diehards were still getting MSE definition updates.

Of course we could always switch to a third-party antivirus, with certain exceptions: Vista No Longer Supported by Some Security Software. One thing's for sure: I will never go back to AVG Free, which is the mother of all nagware!

If anyone finds a good way to disable the nagging in MSE, they will certainly receive some reputation from me!
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Staff member
Vista Guru
Gold Member
What they are saying is that you will no longer receive security updates. Without the updates protecting you from the various new virus that are constantly being developed, your protection will diminish as time passes.
What will actually happen cannot be foretold by anyone at this point in time.
There are 2 antivirus, that have been always rated better than MSE,; they are Panda and Avast. I prefer Avast and am using it now on Windows 10.
As far as I know there is only one way to stop the nagging. Using System Restore go back to a point prior to the nagging and do not update. I, agree with you, this is not a wise thing to do, but it is the only solution, AFAIK.
If I were you, I would make a System Restore point, and then install Avast. If you do not like it go back with SR (better than uninstalling, since you will get everything removed). Then do the same with Panda. With a little preplanning, you could come out ahead and say goodbye MSE.
There are 2 antivirus, that have been always rated better than MSE,; they are Panda and Avast. I prefer Avast
Hello Richard. Your recommendation of Avast does carry some weight, especially since I know there was a time when you recommended MSE, e.g. this post from January 2014: https://www.vistax64.com/system-sec...-virus-anti-malware-software.html#post1394757. In those days, I never would've dreamed that I might one day be relying on MSE because it had a well-deserved reputation for ineffectiveness. However a surprising thing happened in 2015: Microsoft's antivirus protection suddenly improved, e.g. Windows Defender improves in new antivirus test. This happened at a time when I had become thoroughly disenchanted with third-party nagware, so here I am advocating MSE for Windows Vista.

I assume that you are referring to Avast Free, which is certainly very popular and no doubt a good choice (especially since Avira and Bitdefender no longer support Vista). Can you tell me that Avast will never nag me about upgrading to a paid version, and will never try to install something I don't want (e.g. their browser or a toolbar)? Perhaps more importantly, can you tell me how much longer Avast will support Windows Vista? It seems likely that Microsoft will be cranking out MSE definition updates at least until January 2020, when they will once again be in the position of killing off one of their most successful products, i.e. Windows 7. Perhaps they can cut off Vista without ruining the program for Win7, but I'm not sure, since they haven't successfully cut off Windows XP just yet.

As for Panda, it so happens that I tried Panda Free for a few months after dumping AVG Free. On March 11, 2015, Panda did something that no virus has ever accomplished: It forced me to reinstall Windows. Admittedly that was a valuable learning experience, and the timing turned out to be good (five months before Windows updates became a big problem for Vista), and I started backing up with Macrium after that - but still, I don't think I will be using or recommending Panda ever again.

Please, let's not turn this into a "which antivirus do you like best" thread. The OP is mainly interested in whether or not MSE can be a part of Windows Vista's future despite today's unpleasant development.


Staff member
Vista Guru
Gold Member
Yes, I remember when I recommended MSE, but became disillusioned by its performance, as time passed. I do agree that the MSE of today is a lot more effective than the MSE of yesterday. I think that all the free anti virus solutions (excluding MSE) today support some form of nagware. It may be a coincidence, but Avast seems to have a pop up, suggesting the paid version, mostly, when I check my email, through my email client.
My personal feeling about MSE is that as long as it supports Windows 7 it may, perhaps, unwillingly, also support Vista.
I have used Panda in the past without problem. I just bought a new computer and Panda seems to slow things up a bit, so now I am with Avast and Windows 10.
I am pretty sure other members will come by and present their own ideas. In reality, no one can be sure of what move Microsoft will make. Who could have guessed about a free Windows 10?
It I were in your position, I would stay with MSE and see what happens. When and if, an unpleasant change occurs, you make a decision then.
Your choices are limited, however; go with Avast, and the free Malwarebytes, or use only Malwarebytes.
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Getting back to nagging by MSE: There is also a system tray notification that appears after logging in; and of course the orange icon underneath is MSE, which was nice and green just 24 hours ago:

systray nagification.JPG

If Microsoft wants to nag us into buying Windows 10, then they should study AVG Free, in which nagifications appeared every half hour or so while you were attempting to concentrate on something else.
Apologies if this isn't helpful. I'm just putting this out there...

I stopped using Avast! because an executable carrying "Ransom:Win32/Crowti.A" attempted to run on my machine. It just blasted through the realtime protection shields and everything. The only reason it didn't detonate was because my old copy of Comodo Firewall stopped it at the door.

I tracked down the file on my hard drive and repeatedly attempted to clean or quarantine it. In all cases, Avast! wouldn't or couldn't touch it. So I simply locked it down with Comodo until I got MSE. MSE finally killed it dead in one swipe.

Granted, this was years ago, but......Just putting that out there.
I stopped using Avast! because...MSE finally killed it dead in one swipe.
Hello TeknomanSlade. When I was active in the old AVG Forums, I heard similar stories from former Avast users who jumped out of the frying pan into the fire (sort of like reinstalling Vista in hopes of getting Windows Update to work like it did prior to Windows 10). Avast now owns AVG, which probably tells you who had the happiest campers of the two. After adopting MSE in 2015, I once visited the new AVG Support Community to see if I could help out with some of the old familiar problems. Believe it or not, MSE soon detected and quarantined a ransomware trojan! (Quite possibly put there by another AV company as part of some secret war; the global protection racket is quite ruthless!)

So are you still using MSE on Vista despite the nagging? If so, please view your update history to see how many automatic definition updates you are getting per day now (the normal number is one).
Interesting link virtual6! Of course I know you are using Norton and Sandboxie, so there's no point in asking if you have tested it on Vista. At first glance, it looks like the main fix suggested there involves installing certain components of MSE 4.4. Some XP diehards are actually still using 4.4 because it predates the addition of nagging capability; but I would have to caution against using such an old client version - especially since MSE wasn't really very good until 4.8. A third-party solution would be preferable to downgrading that far. Anyway, I'll take a closer look at the link tomorrow.

As I mentioned in post #1, Microsoft did not cut off MSE definition updates for Windows XP in April 2014, or even in July 2015 like they once said they would. Microsoft may have attempted to cut off their definition updates in April 2016, when two quite interesting threads were started by XP diehards: MSE Latest Definition Update Seems Corrupted - Microsoft | DSLReports Forums and Microsoft security essentials and Windows XP - Windows XP - MSFN.
Hello Vistaar.

Shopping for new anti-virii is quite the hassle. I was already uncomfortable enough going from Avast! to MSE, so yes. I intend to keep MSE for as long as is humanly possible. After defeating Crowti.A, I'm inclined to trust it more than the alternatives right now.

I would like to stop the nagging, but if I have to live with it, I'd rather live with it than turn my system over to someone else's "revolving door" realtime shield.

I'm not sure what to tell you about the updates. As far as virus definitions go, all seems to be proceeding as normal for now. I tend to get one to two updates a day, and that has continued since the 10th, so......
I intend to keep MSE for as long as is humanly possible...As far as virus definitions go, all seems to be proceeding as normal for now. I tend to get one to two updates a day, and that has continued since the 10th
Thank you TeknomanSlade! I also intend to keep using MSE as long as possible, if only to see exactly how it all ends on Vista. It could be that MS has been playing softball with XP thus far, and is now warming up to play hardball this April; but time will tell.

I'm a little surprised to hear that you are still getting the normal one automatic definition update per day (two would be a day when a scheduled scan ran), considering my own recent experience (see screenshot). I would very much like to know the definition number (1.235.xx.x) of your January 10 update! If there were two, make that the first one of the day. I have a hunch that it was later in the day and higher in number than mine (, and BTW that was also when the nagging started. It's not that I'm alarmed by the increased rate of definition updates I'm getting. If you scroll down through your update history and look at the period from November 2 through November 9, I'm very confident that you were getting rapid-fire definition updates then. It so happens that AV-Comparatives was then conducting real-world protection tests on Windows 7, and MSE 4.10 got some of its best test results ever. (You might want to visit AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection Test - AV-Comparatives, click MONTHLY RESULTS and select Month: Nov.) Of course users can always manually update definitions as often as they want anyway; but I think MS bungled certain definition updates in their rush to torment Vista users.

Notice that I did not install "Important" KB3216775 on Tuesday, but rather have it hidden for now. Frankly, I am no longer confident that MS has our best interests at heart.

Rapid-Fire Definitions.JPG
Again, not really sure what to tell you Vistaar. You're clearly paying more and better attention to this stuff than I can at the present moment.

Here's what my update history looks like right now.

Unlike you, I did get KB3216775. I guess I'm just a bit more trusting than you, though I understand your "best interests" sentiment. Seems like all companies get like that when they get to a certain girth.
Hmmm, your first definition update of January 10 was also, which triggered rapid-fire definition updates in my case but apparently not so much in yours - unless maybe you keep the PC shut down most of the time (which would avoid many of the updates)? Otherwise, Vistaar is one puzzled guru.:confused:
Could be anything. I do generally, as a habit, have a "shut down" period for my box. I also run on dial-up, and many apps on my box literally fight each other for whatever bandwidth is there, so it's common for about 80% of calling programs to time out after a point. That probably has more to do with it than anything else.

I'm sorry. I'm a little confused here. Why are you so concerned about getting so many on the 11th? Just that it's unusual?
Sorry to confuse you with so many questions TeknomanSlade, but you're the only other MSE user running Vista I've got at the moment. Most likely definition did modify your registry with respect to the frequency of definition updates, but you're still not getting very many of them due to a slow connection and frequent shutdowns. Let's drop that aspect of the January 10 MSE changes unless someone else has an observation to share.

Edit: The rapid-fire definition updates ended on January 14.
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I also found this...
1. Run Task Manager (Ctrl-Shift-Esc)
2. Go to Processes tab
3. End msseces.exe process
4. Start Registry Editor (Start -> Run -> regedit.exe)
5. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft Antimalware hive
6. Right click on it and modify permissions to have Full Control right
7. Change EndOfLife value from 2 to 0
8. Change back permissions
9. Start Microsoft Essentials
You just need to show the registry who's boss...
How to Gain Full Permissions to Edit Protected Registry Keys

Even if you manage to change the value to, say, 0x0, I wonder if the next update would reset it?
If I take ownership and full control of the Microsoft Antimalware hive, then I can change the value. But as you rightly wondered, it just gets changed back within minutes - it doesn't even require a definition update. That probably explains why no XP diehards have ever recommended that approach. What was actually being suggested at Disable the Security Essentials End-of-Life Warning on Windows XP - Super User was to replace the nagging UI of MSE 4.5 (the current version at that time) with the well-behaved version that can be extracted from a 4.4 installer. I will try that approach with today's 4.10 version before long.
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