Security is one of the most essential aspects of any operating system. As such, Windows 10 and 11 come with a modern, native anti-malware component built in to protect users from all kinds of harmful software. So, when you do your risky business, you feel safe even without a third-party antivirus program. While Windows Defender works great on Windows 10, and is even considered as the best antivirus software by many for its unintrusive and light resource usage. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Windows 11.
That is because Windows Defender has been causing some problems for users running Windows 11. When trying to open Windows Security from the Start Menu or perform a custom scan within File Explorer, absolutely nothing happens. Upon trying to access Defender from the Privacy and Security settings within Windows Settings, the same thing happens. You’ll keep repeatedly clicking and the OS will go unbothered.
This is a problem I personally faced until I found a solution that worked. But, perhaps this malfunctioning has some reason behind it. A few days ago, images of a new Windows Defender surfaced on Twitter, indicating a new version of Windows Defender was coming soon. This app would seemingly align all security measures of the OS and bring them inside one universal app that will oversee your computer’s protection. It could be that since a new Windows security hub is on the way, the old one is all of a sudden causing issues.
Pump the brakes, Windows Defender or Windows Security?
It’s important to note that Microsoft’s nomenclature is quite confusing so before we proceed, let’s clear up any confusion. Windows Security is the current name of what used to be Windows Defender back in the Windows 8 and early Windows 10 days. It’s the overall security component of the Windows OS. There’s also the firewall built into Windows that’s officially called Windows Defender; it contains some advanced options for security and basically represents the non-updated part of Windows Security, and it will likely be consolidated into the modern Windows Security component one day.
So, technically Windows Security is Windows Defender but the actual Windows Defender is something else. On top of that, the new security hub in the works seems to reassign the Windows Security name back to Windows Defender once again. It’s confusing, tell me about it. If you really want to be exact about the differences, this article explains the entire naming scheme in a much more detailed fashion.
Windows Defender V2
Twitter user Aggiornamenti Lumia posted a picture of a what looked like a new Windows Security app, this time dubbed “Windows Defender (Preview)“. Since the app was clearly in preview, as indicated by the literal text on the screen reading Windows Defender Preview, we didn’t get other information. But, this was enough to solidify the existence of an updated Windows Security app that would clear up the naming confusion by just going back to the old Defender name.
Initially it was thought that this app would be exclusive to Windows 11 seeing as how Microsoft has updated almost every popular native app to match Windows 11’s design language. But, recent leaks confirm the app will come to both Windows 10 (build 19041.0 and above) and Windows 11, and will be just a simple over-the-air install available through the Microsoft Store.
— WalkingCat (@_h0x0d_) October 27, 2021
Not only that, the description of the Store listing, along with icons found within the .msixbundle file of Windows Defender Preview suggests that the security measures would extend to Apple and Android devices as well. Further adding to the evidence, WindowsLatest was able to find icons for iPhone, Mac, and Android which all but confirms the fact that the new Windows Defender would be able to connect and keep eyes on all of your devices.
Inside the app
Since the preview is publicly available on the Microsoft Store, I decided to download it and take it for a spin. Unfortunately, I could only get about as far as the welcome screen. Upon signing in with my account, the app denied me access and said “Your account isn’t authorized to use Microsoft Defender yet”. This means that the app is likely in a testing phase and has been made available to only certain users.
That being said, a Twitter user by the name of Ahmed Walid was able to get inside the app and has given us some new in-app screenshots of the new Windows Defender.
— Ahmed Walid (@AhmedWalid605) October 28, 2021
In the screenshot attached above, we can see a modernized dashboard that has seen a massive visual overhaul compared to the current Windows Security app. The app’s interface looks completely different and like it belongs in Windows 11 natively with its Fluent UI and Mica material implementation. It also seems that new features are in order but they’re still very much in early development. Therefore, the “Identity” and “Connections” tabs are unavailable to access and say “Coming soon” hinting that the app is a still a long way out.
However, the “Devices” tab is accessible and along with your PC, it shows an option to control connected devices. Once again, alluding to the fact that this Windows Defender will allow you to tether all your devices together and oversee them with the app. The above screenshot shows how the app looks when no devices are connected, but Ahmed was generous enough to test out this feature for us and post some more screenshots.
Here's what it looks like if you have other devices connected pic.twitter.com/hXHFXpNh8J
— Ahmed Walid (@AhmedWalid605) October 28, 2021
Ahmed has connected an Android phone, an iPhone, and his Mac to Windows Defender and you can see how the app shows protection statuses for each of the connected devices. It also keeps track of when a certain device was last updated. The Identity and Connections features will most likely be related to this—allowing you to create specific profiles for each device, and establish and monitor connections with various devices.
So, when is this coming out?
It’s unclear as to when the new Windows Defender app will be released, seeing how even the preview itself is not publicly accessible at the moment. It could be that Microsoft wants to tie this new security hub with Microsoft 365 since it has such a sharp focus on connecting multiple devices, maybe the company will promote the new Windows Defender as a “family” security app of sorts.
Regardless, all we have right now is speculation based off leaks so take everything with a grain of salt. The Windows 11 Photos app has a roughly 2-month period between the first round of leaks and initial rollout. However, that app was not listed on the Microsoft Store publicly until later, but Windows Defender already is. That gives us a slight idea of when we can expect this app. The wait won’t be as long as it was for Photos, but the app is clearly still in early testing phases judging by the unavailability of certain features in the preview.