Wednesday, December 7

No, Microsoft does not force you to use Windows Defender [updated]

I see some stories online stating that Microsoft is forcing you to use Windows Defender, its built-in antivirus program, and that because of this your PC will slow down if you install a second antivirus program because the two will conflict with each other. other.

Neither statement is true. You do not need to use Windows Defender, and Windows Defender will not conflict with another antivirus program.

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What is certain is that Microsoft is making it very difficult for you to completely disable all antivirus programs on your PC, which some people who think are too smart to get infected with malware like to do. This is a good move on Microsoft’s part.

Here’s how it works: Windows Defender is installed on all versions of Windows 10. By default, it always runs in the background to stop malware infections and other threats.

But if you install another antivirus program, like one of the ones on our best antivirus page (and Windows Defender is one of the best), Windows Defender will disable itself and let the other program take over.

If you remove the third-party antivirus program, Windows Defender will be activated again. In this way, you will always have some anti-virus protection measure.

Deactivation deactivation

However, until this month, you can enter the Windows Registry and enable an option called “DisableAntiSpyware. ”

That would disable Windows Defender, whether or not you have a third-party antivirus solution installed. It would leave you naked to the big bad world of things trying to infect your computer, but I suppose some people prefer it that way.

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But with this month’s Windows Defender update, that Registry option to disable Defender permanently has been disabled, unless you’re running a server instead of a PC. (Hat tip to Latest Windows for spotting this first.)

You can still temporarily disable Defender by going to Windows Security -> Virus & Threat Protection -> Virus & Threat Protection Settings -> Manage Settings, and then disabling Real-time Protection.

That’s a good option if you’re testing system performance, for example. But Defender will turn back on after a while if there is no other AV software installed, which, again, is a good thing.

UPDATE: Microsoft tries to clarify the situation

After this story was initially published on August 20, Microsoft changed the language in the DisableAntiSpyware documentation page to further clarify what is happening here.

“DisableAntiSpyware is intended for use by OEM [original equipment manufacturers such as PC makers] and IT professionals to disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus and implement another antivirus product during deployment, “the page now reads.

“This is a legacy setting that is no longer required as Microsoft Defender antivirus automatically shuts down when it detects another antivirus program. This configuration is not intended for consumer devices and we have decided to delete this registry key ”.

He added: “This change does not affect third-party antivirus connections to the Windows security application. They will continue to work as expected ”.

Meanwhile, Computer ringingLawrence Abrams pointed out that there is another very good reason to disable the DisableAntiSpyware option. Several varieties of malware have used the option to enter the Registry and disable virus protection on infected machines.

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Now, Abrams wrote, “Windows 10 users have much greater protection against threats that tried to disable security software using this technique.”

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