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Windows Defender is Microsoft's antimalware product for Windows. Early on, Windows Defender was treated as an optional download, but today it is included with the desktop operating system by default.
In Windows 8, Microsoft made two major changes to Windows Defender. First, it enhanced Windows Defender to protect against a variety of malware types. Windows Defender had previously been geared more toward the removal of spyware.
The other big change is that Windows 8 Defender is now disabled by default. This raises the question of whether you should actually be using Windows Defender.
Windows Defender has its advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, the biggest advantages are that it is free and that, unlike some of the other free antivirus products, Defender doesn't nag you constantly. Some of the free antivirus solutions are really bad about trying to upsell or trick users into installing toolbars that they might not necessarily want.
Another advantage to Windows Defender is that it does a really good job of removing malware infections. This makes sense, since nobody knows the Windows operating system better than Microsoft.
Unfortunately, Windows Defender has at least two major disadvantages. First, my own experience has been that Defender doesn't do as good of a job of detecting malware as some other products on the market. Defender is great for removing infections, but only if those infections can be detected.
The other problem with Defender is that some malware is specifically designed to attack and disable it.
In my opinion, Defender is better than nothing, but it is not a substitute for third-party antimalware software. Defender works well enough that those who do not engage in risky online behavior are probably OK with using it, but I would not recommend relying on Windows Defender as a general-purpose antimalware measure.
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