Windows 8 is coming soon and one question on every cautious user’s mind is whether or not an anti-virus program is required. I personally haven’t been a huge fan of third-party anti-virus programs since Microsoft created Microsoft Security Essentials. Everything from viruses to spyware is pretty much covered, and in the end the thing that counts the most is user behavior.

But for many users, the questions remains. Do you need an anti-virus with either Windows 8 or Windows 8 RT (the version of Windows 8 made for ARM devices)?

Let’s break these two different versions of Windows 8 down for a more comprehensive answer.

Windows 8

Windows 8 combines the legacy Windows experience with some elements of the new modern UI. The code base is very similar to that of Windows 7, and with applications made for previous versions of Windows also running on Windows 8, there’s no question that some of the malicious code can still run quite natively.

Unless you plan on having all of your software install direct from the Windows App Store, you run the same risks of infection as you do with Windows 7. Add to that potential weaknesses in the operating system brought on by the infant new UI and application engine, and you have plenty of reasons to keep anti-virus software running.

Here’s the cool part: Windows 8 comes with Microsoft Security Essentials (a very capable anti-virus program of its own right) pre-installed. Should there be no third-party anti-virus program running, MSE takes over protecting the OS from malicious software. This makes it a great safety net for the average user, but still just a safety net.

Windows 8 RT

Windows 8 RT shares a lot in common with the primary Windows 8 build, though it is quite a bit more locked down. As long as the user sticks to installing apps from the Windows App Store, there should be little to nothing to worry about as far as malicious software is concerned.

My primary concern would be with the browser and any exploits that might be found within. Good habits for email are also still recommended, and we have no idea as of yet what crafty ways digital evil doers will come up with to get through the Windows armor.

I’d classify Windows 8 RT’s security along the same lines of a mobile OS. As it runs on tablets, it sort of is. Despite being locked down to the point where very little gets through, there are still cases where both Android and iOS have had security issues. Be mindful of this in Windows RT, and you should be just fine.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Please leave a comment below and let us know how you feel about Windows 8 security, and whether or not you would recommend going with an anti-virus program other than Microsoft Security Essentials.

Image: Microsoft