At one time you had to have third party security software or your PC just wasn’t safe from malware. Viruses, Trojans, adware, spyware and other nasty programs could easily infect the computer and you were taking a big risk if you didn’t install at least a free antivirus program, and preferably a full security suite.
Times have changed and 64-bit Windows 10 is more secure than older versions of Windows and Windows Defender is better too. There is a new version that adds extra protection and an interface makeover that is simpler and easier to use.
(Note: The beta edition of Windows is being used here, but there are unlikely to be any major differences with the release version coming soon.)
New Windows Defender icon
The same icon, what looks like a castle, has been used for Windows Defender for a long time. Perhaps forever. Now there is a new shield icon as can be seen if the mouse hovers over the icon at the right side of the taskbar.
Click the up arrow to show the tray and click the icon. A single menu is displayed, Open, and this can be used to open the main program window.
New Windows Defender settings
The Settings app has had a makeover and redesign in the Windows 10 anniversary update. There are icons in the left column with the section titles and now on the right when you select Windows Defender is a large and clear button: Open Windows Defender.
Previously this was a small blue link right down at the bottom of the settings where it was easy to miss and easily forgotten about. Windows Defender’s presence is now much more obvious.
New Windows Defender Offline
Some malware is hard to remove because when it is running it can block actions taken to remove it. Delete the malware and it can put itself back straight away or prevent its deletion in the first place.
Windows Defender Offline has been around for quite some time, although you probably haven’t heard of it. Few people have. It was also awkward to use. You have to download a .iso disc image, making sure you choose the right version - 32 or 64-bit. You had to burn it to a CD-R. Then you had to boot the computer with the CD. Finally, the PC’s disk could be scanned for malware and Windows Defender could do its job.
It is a hassle. What’s more, some PCs, especially laptops, don’t have CD/DVD-Rom drives these days. and they are dying out.
Windows Defender Offline is now built in to Windows 10. Just click the button and the PC is restarted so the disk can be scanned before Windows, or any malware, is run. This is a great idea and it makes Windows Defender a much more powerful tool.
Windows Defender notifications
You can also see in the screenshot above that there us an option to show enhanced notifications, so you know what is going on with the security. It's not clear what the extra notifications are, probably definitions updates, maybe background scans that completed with no problems found, and so on.
Critical messages are always displayed whether this setting is on or off.
Time to ditch your antivirus software?
Should you uninstall your antivirus or other security software? I did and I uninstalled my antivirus program. However, I would not recommend it for everyone. If you are fairly knowledgeable and know how to avoid the obvious ways that viruses infect the computer, then Windows Defender is fine.
For some people, such as children and computer users with limited technical knowledge, the extra security of antivirus or Internet Security Suites is recommended. I’m happy with just Windows Defender.