Quick Summary

Microsoft Window’s Defender is a free antivirus software that comes included with Windows 10 installations. It’s integrated into the system’s operations, allowing it to easily check for threats while users browse and download from the web. It’s a simple system, with more focus on utility than style. Even so, it still offers a highly accessible UI suited for beginners and advanced users alike and doesn’t slow down computer operations.

Setting it Up

Because the product is built into Windows 10, no initial setup is necessary. Users can configure the program to fit their preferences later on, though.

Security Alerts

Microsoft Windows Defender is designed to remain as unobtrusive as possible while keeping your computer safe from a variety of threats. In the event that real-time protection is switched off, you will be met with a notification that you are not protected and prompted to turn it back on again.

If threats are found, a “Threats found” pop-up message will appear in the corner of your screen. Clicking this notification reveals more details about the threats and allows users to decide how to handle the quarantined files. This same process is also applied to PUPs, or potentially unwanted programs.

Note that even when Defender is disabled, its home screen may still read “Your device is being protected.” Checking its status under the “Virus and threat protection” section is a much more reliable way to determine whether or not the program is performing real-time scans of your internet downloads and interactions.

Usability

The biggest selling point of Microsoft Windows Defender is that it’s already integrated into modern Windows 10 devices. As such, it receives automatic updates along with the rest of the operating system and features much of the easy accessibility that sets this particular OS apart.

The tiled, clean look allows for easy use on touchscreen-enabled devices. Furthermore, those inexperienced with setting up firewalls and other defense options will be relieved that there is little in the way of mandatory customization when it comes to this software. Firewalls and other security tools are built into the OS and work to keep files safe without interference or direction.

The UI itself is seldom seen, as Defender tends to take care of business in the background, offering unobtrusive safety rather than taking up screen space. While this can be a boon, this unobtrusive behavior can be a hindrance to safety as well. The pop-up security alerts on the bottom of the screen tend not to be insistent or urgent-looking enough, which could lead to overlooked threats.

Windows Defender also does not automatically scan devices such as USB sticks when they’re plugged in. However, it does kick into action when one begins browsing the drivers, and takes immediate steps to begin quarantining threats if any of them are moved onto the desktop or into other files. During the threat detection process, the information provided is fairly straightforward and keeps users up to date on the steps of the cleaning process. The split-window appearance can be a bit disorienting for new users, but the information is readily available.

Pros:

  • Unobtrusive
  • Simple interface
  • Contains all of the security basics, for free
  • Offline scanning
  • Simple ransomware protection

Cons:

  • Few additional features
  • Little in the way of customization
  • It’s not as beefy as some other systems
  • No manual update options
  • Mixed lab test results