In Windows 8, Windows Defender is actually Microsoft Security Essentials

I know most of us have downloaded and installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on our laptops to give it a try. And like many others, I too am also amazed with the new features and programs introduced in it – the new Metro apps are just fun to use, Internet Explorer 10 is making other web browsers look inferior – but my attention was caught by Windows Defender.

Here I was, looking out for an antivirus to protect my Windows 8, when I went to have a look at Windows Defender. I was confused while looking at Windows Defender in Windows 8 CP. Was it Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials?

Well, it looks like Microsoft is planning to recrhisten Microsoft Security Essentials as Windows Defender. In its earlier iterations, while the former offered anti-virus protection, the latter gave anti-spyware protection. It sure looks like Microsoft has decided to combine both these protections in one program and call it Windows Defender – which in any case is a much better name of the two and is more suitable name too.

I tried running the set up of Windows 8 CP inside my current installation of Windows 7. So before initializing the installation process, it ran a compatibility check run for all the current programs installed on my system.

It found two programs that were conflicting, and which would not work in Windows 8 – one was Kaspersky Internet Security and other, iTunes.

Later on, I investigated about this and found that hardly any security suites are currently compatible with Windows 8 CP. And with more than One Million downloads of Windows 8 Consumer Preview recorded by Microsoft in first 24 hours of its release, my main concern was how were users going to secure their computers?

So, after the installation, first of all I checked about the security arrangements and found that Windows Defender will not only defend users from spyware but it will take care of virus and other malware also.

It would also be nice if Microsoft however decides to show the icon of this ‘new’ Windows Defender in the notification area, so that users will know that their antivirus protection ir running just fine.

The About of Windows Defender clearly shows that Microsoft Security Essentials has been integrated by Microsoft and it’s by default availability will be expected in the final build as well.

I am not sure when Microsoft did this – but I am glad they did. But it would have been nice if they could have also announced this somewhere prominently – or maybe I missed the announcement?

UPDATE: Now According to Microsoft:

Microsoft Security Essentials will not be needed on Windows 8. We remain committed to providing strong protection of Windows 7 and earlier Windows users with Microsoft Security Essentials. Both are based on the same core technology (engine, signatures, filter driver), but Windows Defender on Windows 8 also provides additional functionality, such as integration with Windows 8 secured boot.

So now, if Microsoft does plan to pre-install the ‘new’ Windows Defender on Windows 8, will the other security companies (and OEMs) take it quietly – since this step is sure to affect the sales of other Security programs,  if it will come pre-installed with Windows 8.

Posted by on , in Category Security with Tags
Nitin Agarwal is an MVP alumni and a Pro Blogger. He was awarded as Most Valuable Professional for 3 times by Microsoft in Windows Expert - Consumer category. He is immensely inspired by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and APJ Abdul Kalam.


  1. Interesting. I hadn’t noticed!…guess I’ll uninstall MSE all things considering from my netbook which I’m testing some multi-touch features on.

  2. It’s been available since Windows 8 Developer Preview…how come you do not notice that?

  3. been explained and even announced by steven sinofky.
    and they even has it explained in huge detail at msdn blogs..

    anyways, like you said, even i wish Microsoft had a better marketing to general public, about their awesome built-in features.

    Windows Rocks, anyways. !

  4. Eins.MY, totally wrong. what you didnt notice is that in Consumer Preview, its a blend of two solutions. MSE+Defender..

    in developer preview, it was just the stand alone Defender, as it was always in windows 7 etc.

    Hope you understood the difference.

  5. Joeschmoe2008

    Not to be too picky about the article but Microsoft Security Essentials contains Windows Defender. So Microsoft Security Essentials has both antivirus and antispyware protection.

  6. I just wrote about it to make users aware that there is no need to be concerned about the security issues. Windows Defender will take care of it.. 🙂

  7. I too been planning to install MSE on Win8CP, but before that, I see Windows defender from control panel, check it out and then it says, protect from viruses & malwares..
    So, I decided to not install other AV apps that might degrade its performance, since Windows Defender is already protecting my machine 😉

  8. Collin Page

    Actually no if you checked out Defender in Developer Preview MSE was included like it is in CP also

  9. Simon walker

    The Antivirus companies are going to lose out so much.I think the majority of people I do computers for see antivirus as a right pain,an extra expense.Most people don’t seem to realize there are good free ones,they think free is no good(unless it’s by the people that made windows,that is).They won’t need to do it if it’s included in windows.
    I also think Microsoft have had some kind of arrangement with the av companies in the past not to include any ‘proper’ AV built into windows(probably getting a small percentage),they could have done it a while ago and it would add extra ‘value’ to windows.It wouldn’t surprise me if they change again to no AV if the security companies pay them enough.It might just be a scare tactic,adding an AV to get more money,wouldn’t surprise me.My crazy theories anyway

  10. hackerman1

    Windows Defender in W8 is a combination of the “old” Defender and MSE !
    Of course i thought that “Windows Defender” in control panel was the same as the “old” defender.
    And i´m probably not the only one assuming that…
    Classical Microsoft-weird, they should have renamed it to MSE or something else, so people could recognize that something is new.

    Quoting from my post yesterday in the forum:
    “But one thing is VERY annoying, there is NO taskbar-icon for Defender, which can give you the impression that it has stopped working….

    And there is also NO settings for when you want to run a scheduled scan.”

    If you want a more “normal” MSE, then get the next version of Forefront from Microsoft, which is now called Security Center Endpoint Protection 2012 (SCEP),
    which is the (“Business version of MSE”).

    It´s a pre-release (beta) but i installed it without any complaints about W8.
    The latest version was recently released, so i suspected that it would run on W8.

    But before you go ahead, a small warning: the whole download is 1,4 GB (GIGABYTE !).

    The Antivirus-program itself (the client) is only 18 MB, but you have to download the whole Security Center Endpoint Protection 2012, and then extract the Antivirus-program from the exe-file with fx. 7-zip.
    Of course you can also install SCEP, and then just start the client….

  11. Hackerman1

    Norton Internet Security is also available for W8

  12. jimsing59

    Thanks! Nice Tip. I just uninstalled Microsoft Security Essentials from Windows 8 Consumer Preview and now use Windows Defender.

  13. Joeschmoe2008

    Is WD the same as MSE v.4 beta? I believe one major difference in MSE v.4 beta is that user options is greatly restricted compared to previous versions of MSE. But I also read that resource usage of WD in Windows 8 is lower than MSE in Windows 7.

  14. hackerman1

    no, the “new” defender is v6.
    “user options is greatly restricted…”
    no, there are no “BIG” differences,
    nothing that bothers me.
    i´m using another computer right now so i can´t go into details…

  15. Andrewh1993

    They both suck, they have no value in security at all, ya’ll need to use iobit malware fighter, security essentials did not catch 53 viruses on my uncles computer, and also it hogs so much ram. its useless, turn it off save your ram and memory and find a way better alternative.

    Your friendly computer technician
    -Andrew Howe

  16. Joeschmoe2008

    I would not trust anyone who ever recommended an Iobit product.

  17. Arun Kumar

    Nice. Security was my concern too due to which, I was delaying installation of Win8 beta. Thanks for the info.

  18. Andrea Borman

    Well I have got Windows Defender on both my Windows XP laptop and on my Windows 7 laptop.And I have Windows Defender on my new install of Windows 8. And I have never installed any anti virus programs on Windows XP or Windows 7. I just use the Windows Defender. But the Windows Defender on Windows XP has more security features than the Windows 7 version. The Windows Defender on Windows XP has Software Explorer which monitors every software you install. But the Windows 7 version does not. And the Windows 8 version is the same as the Windows 7 version,except it looks different. And unlike anti virus programs,Windows Defender does not take over your computer or do anything you don’t want it to. Unlike anti virus programs that block sites and access to programs that are harmless. That’s why I don’t use anti virus programs. Andrea Borman.

  19. Joeschmoe2008

    Windows Defender on XP has different options available because Windows 7 has more security features built into the system. Windows 8 version of Windows Defender has the Microsoft antivirus built in. Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus in Windows 7 has Windows Defender built in. When you were running Windows Defender in Windows 8 you were running an antivirus and antispyware program.

  20. Rosea1961

    Windows Defender WILL NOT turn on, plain and simple with or without MSE or Kapersky installed,, all Windows Defender updates FAIL everytime,, any thoughts

  21. Joeschmoe2008

    Did you check to see if it was enabled in the “services” which you can access through the admin section of your pc?



  23. Melissa

    I’ve got windows 8, but I can not find Microsoft security essential any where on my computer. Is it because I have a free trial of Norton running? How do I know if MSE is securing my laptop? What do I need to do to activate it? Please help.

  24. fanfe

    i have exactly the same problem and also wonder if this is because of the fre trial?!! I found where the widnows defender is but it is turned off and I can’t change it. any help would be great.! thanks you

  25. Teresa010577

    i found that after my free trial of Norton expired, windows defender took over automatically. but I keep getting the message that I need to protect against viruses and malware. isn’t this what windows defender is suppose to do?

  26. These messages are probably from Norton,who wants you to renew. Uninstall Norton and you wont see the messages. Windows Defender should be good enough for protecting your computer.

  27. Charles Etheridge

    hi, One question that I haven’t seen addresses is whether Wiindows Defender is compatible wih Windows 7 Ultiomate x64bit. I’ve been using WSE for years and it seems to do a finde job, but if Defender would constitute an upgrade then it would seem to be an eminently logical move to migrate to it. As unimpressed as I am in general with W8 that’s as close as I’d probably ever get. There are just too many good features of W7 that have been obfuscated to bother with a change at least till W9, if its any better than 8.

  28. Profsaid

    you can’t run BOTH windows defender & anti virus program at the same time because each will consider the other as a virus because they both do some activities of scanning that are not allowed by the other; you need to choose; either to activate windows defender & in such case you have to deactivate the antivirus or better off uninstall it totally from the control panel ( to find the WD simply type windows defender once you click on the start button & turn on) or keep it off & continue with the antivirus installed on your machine…. Windows defender is ok if you don’t go to many websites that are suspicious but if you need a stronger antivirus you need to install a third party.

  29. Josman

    Thanks, this is exactly the type of information I was looking for. Now I feel my new laptop is defended.

  30. tinku

    Windows Defender is a boss and there is no disputing it…. so many viruses have been detected on my laptop that I dont know how to thank the windows team.

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