The Windows 7 Firewall builds up on & polishes further the already improved vista firewall. It brings out some of its advanced features out into the open.
While we have already discussed in a little more detail, how to configure the Windows 7 firewall, a few of the changes in Windows 7 firewall are touched upon here in brief.
Windows 7 now allows you to access the advanced settings, including configuration of filtering for outbound connections, through its Control Panel.
Windows 7, now gives you three choices – public network, home network or work network, unlike Vista, which gave you only 2 choices to choose whether you are on a public or private network.
By default the Windows 7 firewall blocks connections to programs that are not on the list of allowed programs. With all network types, it now allows you to configure the settings for each network type separately. This is what is referred to as Multiple Active Firewall Profiles.
Most would just prefer to have the Windows 7 firewall set to its default and forget about it. The default settings are good enough. Those who want to fine tune it can manage the Windows 7 firewall in the following ways:
1) Windows Firewall Control Panel application. This is the simplest one and good enough for routine tasks.
2) Windows Firewall – Advanced Security. This one is a snap-in and predefined console for Microsoft Management Console, offers much more granular control over rules, exceptions, and profiles.You can access it through the Control panel app too.
3) The Netsh utility (in particular, its Firewall and Advfirewall contexts) lets you make firewall settings from a Command Prompt window or a batch program. More info about this utility here.
4) Group Policy Object Editor (available only in select editions) incorporates the Windows Firewall With Advanced Security snap-in (under Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Windows Firewall With Advanced Security). In addition, Windows Firewall can be managed with a number of policies, which can be found in Computer Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Network \ Network Connections \ Windows Firewall.
Windows 7 Firewall Control
The app protects your applications from undesirable network incoming and outgoing activity, controls applications internet access. It allows you to control personal information leakage via controlling application network traffic and also manages and synchronizes port forwarding provided by external network connection (firewall/router) box with applications requirements and activity.
Designed for Windows Windows 7 & Vista
Windows Security Center Integration
Removable Drive application support
Also see How to configure Windows 7 Firewall.
These three freeware will also help you manage the Windows Firewall better:
More links, resources and details about Windows Firewall can be found at WinVistaClub.