The Windows Defender is one of the most untrusted antiviruses out there among Windows users despite the fact that Microsoft has been packaging the software as a core first-party application along with its Windows operating system for nearly three decades.
Despite numerous changes in functionalities to further improve its functionalities as well as rebranding it to make appealing to users, the rebranding to Microsoft Defender Antivirus as well as improved functionalities now makes the software a reliable tool that Windows 10 users can count on.
With the new changes, Microsoft is now in fact stepping things a bit higher. A recent announcement made by the big tech has it that the antivirus program will now only be available as part of a paid subscription to the Microsoft 365 cloud-based office service. In short, the “freemium” version may be gone or rendered less compared to the premium one.
The advantage of antiviruses is how hard they often make it for viruses and malware to infiltrate a computer and spread across its system. The Microsoft Defender is the first-party antivirus tool that always comes freely and prepackaged with every Windows operating system. And one of its duty is to provide near-universal protection on your computer.
While most people don’t really understand the prowess of the Microsoft Defender, the tech giant has numbers to show that the software work accordingly.
Representatives have pointed out that the Malicious Software Removal Tool you see with almost every Windows Update does more than just level up Defender. This is able to provide detailed information to Microsoft such as operating system, malware detections, and what third-party antivirus is being installed.
Despite installing a third-party antivirus on your computer, the Microsoft Defender software never interferes and is able to recognize whatever third-party software being used by simply watching in the background. If by any means you uninstall or something happens to your third-party main malware protection tool, Defender jumps back into action all in an attempt to keep your computer protected at all times.
The announcement that sent people into panic
The new announcement shows the diversification of the software which is now available on other platforms outside of the Windows operating systems. On the announcement page, users across multiple platforms including Android, iOS, and macOS can now get Microsoft Defender for Individuals but with their Microsoft 365 subscription.
There is confusion about whether the new announcement means that users will no longer be able to make use of the program on their computer but have to subscribe first to Microsoft 365 in order to get the software.
However, I think Microsoft is now trying to broaden the reach of the Defender antivirus software which was initially limited to just the Windows operating system. In fact, it is well written on the announcement page that the user needs to have a Microsoft 365 subscription in order to use Microsoft Defender.
Microsoft also makes it clear now that the Microsoft Defender is NOT built into Windows operating system…(any longer) hence, the cross-platform distribution.
For the first time, Microsoft seems to be selling its own antivirus just like other popular services like Norton, Kaspersky, Bitdefender, and many more. And considering the credibility of the software and the Microsoft 365 suite, I don’t necessarily think the new move is bad.
Windows users can still use it freely?
According to Neil Rubenking of PCMag, there isn’t an actual change to the original Microsoft Defender Antivirus which currently exists on the Windows platform. However, the new “Microsoft Defender for Individuals” is built to protect non-Windows systems and devices. As mentioned earlier, it’s Microsoft’s attempt to export the malware detection program to other platforms such as Android, macOS, and iOS.
In the classification, the new Microsoft Defender for Individuals offers web protection on Android and iOS but not macOS while the other way round offers antivirus protection on macOS and Android but not iOS.
As for the meaning of web protection, this is relative to SmartScreen Filter which is popular among Windows users for protecting only Microsoft browsers.
The company’s Corporate VP for Security, Compliance, Identity, and Management, eventually Vasu Jakkal in a blog post makes it clear that this new offering is meant to extend antivirus protection on devices that aren’t Windows.
In short, the original Microsoft Defender Antivirus for Windows is still very much free and comes loaded with the software, as usual, however, if you want to extend that security to your Android device or iOS-based device, or even your macOS-powered computer, then the Microsoft Defender for Individuals is the new offering by Microsoft to combat viruses and malware on your devices.