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Microsoft won't turn on Windows Defender for unprotected PCs

Mark Hachman | Oct. 30, 2013
Microsoft representatives said Wednesday that the company will not turn on Windows Defender for unprotected PCs, contrary to what executives said earlier in the week.

The active protection within Windows 8 and 8.1 are monitored by the Action Center, which notifies users if their antivirus definitions are out of date, for example, or if no anti-malware solution is present. Instead of automatically loading Windows Defender, Microsoft will simply issue reminders that third-party anti-malware is not present or expired, and will offer to load Windows Defender instead. The goal is not to nag the user, Stewart said, but at the same time to notify them that they’re not protected, and to move them back into a protected state with a minimum of fuss.

Microsoft also presented new data as additional justification for moving away from Windows XP. The data, compiled from more than a billion PCs, whose users have allowed Microsoft to use their data to improve Windows, was added to 400 million Outlook.com accounts and billions of Web page scanned by Bing.

The data showed that Windows XP makes up 22 percent of the worldwide user base; in some regions, such as Africa, the penetration can be as high as 32 percent, according to StatCounter. With an operating system more than a decade old, features that were advanced at the time of Windows XP’s release, such as Data Execution Prevention technology, have been bypassed by malware writers.

Stewart said that the the number of pieces of malware that a Windows XP or Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine encounters is relatively constant, indicative of the habits of Internet users at large. But the number of computers that Microsoft reported as infected was far higher for those running Windows XP than for the other operating systems, Microsoft found.

(This article was modified on 4 Nov 2013 based on a change request from the vendor. See the source here.)

 

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