Windows Defender is an antimalware product included in Windows 8 that can protect against viruses, Trojan horses, worms and other attacks. It defends PCs by providing real-time protection and anytime scanning options.
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The Windows Vista version of Defender marked the first time it could run in a security-enhanced (SE) environment.
This version, along with the Windows 7 version, only scans files that have been modified since the most recent scan; it scans files as they are downloaded.
The Vista version also introduced Software Explorer, which provides information that the Task Manager does not, including a complete display of installed software.
Definitions (files that keep track of potential software threats), must be updated for Windows Defender to be effective. Defender uses definitions to alert users of potential risks. In addition, it works with Windows Update to automatically install new definitions as they are released.
Unfortunately, Windows Defender is still not a full-featured security offering, missing key aspects that other antimalware platforms are not. For example, it cannot configure the frequency of definition updates, does not offer granular control of task-scheduling and lacks centralized management capabilities. Most importantly, its level of protection is simply not good enough for the enterprise.
As such, it is primarily a consumer-oriented security tool, geared toward those who do not want to purchase protection and want to steer clear of other free options.
It does have the advantage of knowing the Windows OS better than any other tool because it is a Microsoft product. This means it excels at removing malware if it is detected. But, it is also a target as some malware is designed specifically to attack and disable Defender.