New Windows Defender

windows10-defender-screenshotNew Windows Defender: a reader asks…

I have a new Windows 10 computer (and just got the Creator’s Update). My last computer used Windows 7, and I read your article that talks about the new Windows Defender. My question is, can you tell me what’s different about the new Windows Defender from the old one (part of Microsoft Security Essentials)?

In the Windows 7 days (and even into Windows 8/8.1), Windows Defender was a pretty anemic app that Microsoft tossed into the mix to provide an absolute minimum of protection for users. To be honest, it wasn’t very good at stopping anything, but it was better than nothing.


So before Windows 10, my standard recommendation was to add a 3rd party computer protection suite (like Bitdefender or Malwarebytes) to give adequate protection against threats. That old Windows Defender had some basic anti-malware capabilities, but no anti-virus. Windows Defender was intended to be a supplement to your anti-virus protection program, either the low-quality Windows Security Essentials, or a 3rd party program.


With Windows 8/8.1, Microsoft added some teeth to Windows Defender, adding anti-virus and making it a standalone app. It was a bit better than what it was in Windows 7 and before, but still not what I would call ‘adequate protection’. Over the initial release of Windows 10, Windows Defender has gotten a bit better, to the point that if you follow safe computing practices (keep your system and programs up-to-date, avoid programs like Java, use good password management, etc.) you should be reasonably protected from harm.

This is not to say that Windows Defender by itself is good enough. It scores pretty low on the various 3rd party tests for malware detection compared to good 3rd party programs like the two I noted above. But for the most part, it will do a decent job for the average consumer, and has the added benefits of not costing you anything (extra), and being very good about not nagging you about threats or subscription renewals. If you’re not interested in spending money to add more protection, then it’s all you need, even if it lags behind other 3rd party free computer protection programs. Where you really see improved protection is with the best products, like Bitdefender or Malwarebytes.

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