The Truth About Windows Defender

By | November 19, 2017
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The Truth About Windows Defender

Microsoft Windows Defender continues its attempts to gain a foothold in the world of PC security, but in our world it’s going to have a really hard time doing that. Let’s just say … “Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on you.” Actually, this would be the third time if we actually allowed ourselves to believe Microsoft’s claims for Windows Defender.

We are going to explain why we would never trust our PC’s to Windows Defender, despite Microsoft’s insistence that it is now committed to providing superior virus, malware and ransomware protection to Windows users.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Introducing Microsoft Live OneCare

Cloudeight InternetIt all started back in the late 1990’s when Microsoft introduce OneCare (later called Windows Live OneCare) – with the same fanfare and promises with which it now touts Windows Defender.

How many of you even remember OneCare? I don’t see many hands! No wonder.  It was never rated in the top 25 of any antivirus independent lab testing results. Microsoft eventually allowed it to fade away, walking away from paid users (yes at one time Microsoft actually charged users for “OneCare” and leaving some users unprotected. Of course, this made many Windows users angry.

Having failed in the “security for sale” marketplace, Microsoft reworked OneCare and brought it back as Microsoft Security Essentials.

The Death of Windows Live OneCare and the Birth of MSE

Cloudeight InternetEnter Microsoft Security Essentials, also known as MSE.

With much hoopla and flourish, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Security Essentials on June 23, 2009. And for the next two years, to its credit, MSE was one of the top-rated free security software products around. and we recommended it. MSE consistently ranked in the top 10 antivirus products  in tests conducted by the leading independent testing labs.

We will tell you now, it was excellent. We used it. But it was only excellent for as long as Microsoft’s commitment to it lasted.  And Microsoft’s commitment to MSE seems to have lasted a bit over 3 years. We kept a close eye on it since we were recommending it to our users – and using it on our own computers.

MSE’s ratings declined slightly over time, but one day we noticed it had dropped out of the top 10. And it wasn’t very long after that, that it dropped out of the top 25. And, the last straw:  We saw, up close and personal,  PCs protected by MSE were often loaded with hijackers and all manner of malware. Of course, we stopped recommending it and went on a search for a replacement.  We recommended few of the free antivirus programs that were out at the time – and watched them as the continually declined. Things finally reached a point where none of the free security solutions provide adequate protection from viruses, Trojans, worms, PUPs, malware, browser & search engine hijackers… in fact some of the free solutions began acting more and more like PUPs and malware than security solutions.

It was at this point that we decided to go on a hunt to find the best antivirus & antimalware security solution for ourselves and our readers – free or not. We spent weeks testing all kinds of security/anti-virus software and and in the end, we found Emsisoft met every single one of our criteria. Great protection from viruses, Trojans, malware, PUPs, hijackers, and more – plus a great support team that actually cares about its users and its customers. Before we started working with Emsisoft we tested their support team when they didn’t know who we were. Their support team is great and the company behind Emsisoft is world-class.  After weeks of testing Emsisoft and its support team,  we began recommending Emsisoft. And to this day it remains the only security software we recommend and trust.  We believe in Emsisoft and we use it ourselves on all our computers.

But, I digress…

Microsoft’s MSE was really a good product when Microsoft introduced it and during the time when it seemed it was fully committed to it. But just a few years after its release, MSE failed to provide users with even the most basic protection. It dropped out of the top 10 and then out of the top 25, eventually ended up on most of the independent testing labs’ “not recommend” lists.

Just about the time it seemed that Microsoft had abandoned MSE, Windows 8 was introduced with a new Microsoft security program, a linear descendant of MSE dubbed “Windows Defender”

The Death of MSE and the Birth of Windows Defender

Cloudeight InternetAnd that brings us to now and to Windows Defender. Windows Defender is a direct descendant of MSE. And, as per usual, Microsoft is back to bringing out all its trumpets playing grand flourishes and making claims that Windows Defender provides every Windows 10 user with adequate protection.

Sorry Microsoft. After we trusted you with OneCare (Microsoft Live OneCare) and then trusted you again when you released Microsoft Security Essentials, you’ll have to forgive us if we’re skeptical about Microsoft claims that Windows Defenders is a world-class security solution. How long will their commitment to Defender last? Apparently, not very long:

Despite Microsoft’s claims, Windows Defender remains far from adequate. In a recent AV-Test analysis of 18 security Windows 10 security products , Windows Defender was ranked dead last due to its poor performance and sub-standard protection.

No Thanks!

So, Microsoft, we say “No Thanks!”. We’ve been led down this primrose path before. We will continue to trust our PC’s to Emsisoft. And we will continue to recommend Emsisoft. And if some people still want to use Windows Defender, they’ll be happy to know that they can use Emsisoft right along with Windows Defender. That way, if  Windows Defender goes the way of  One Care and Microsoft Security Essentials (and it already looks like it is ), their PCs will still be protected by Emsisoft.

Fool me once shame on you!

Nothing more aptly describes the circle of Microsoft’s continued attempts to create security software that can compete with committed third-party vendors. Their latest incarnation of security software, Windows Defender, reminds us again: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on you.”

Oh and one more thing…

This is test result we just received from October 2013 done by the respected independent anti-virus testing laboratory AV Lab:

Emsisoft test results

The engine that powers Emsisoft Emergency Kit is the same that powers Emsisoft Anti-Malware. Emsisoft Anti-Malware include the same behavior-blocking to prevent even the smartest malware from harming your computer.

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9 thoughts on “The Truth About Windows Defender

  1. Aussie Norm

    Well said , I had a slight hiccup with Emsisoft late last week.Their support team via David Biggar replied within 2 hours…ascertained what the problem was and what was causing the blip and solved the problem promptly.
    Try getting that service from Microsoft…I don’t think so..(Want to have a bet..)

    Regards from Down Under

    Aussie Norm

    Reply
  2. Larry Hubble

    Yes, I won’t do without Emsisoft. Any questions and they are right there to help you, within hours, and not days. It is hard to find that kind of customer service today. I feel well-protected with Emsisoft, because I know they are working hard to make the security program the best one out there. It is just one less thing to have to worry about if you are like me and not especially tech savvy.
    The one question I would have about the Windows Defender, it is on by default. Should Windows Defender be turned off and/or removed? Will it not conflict with Emsisoft? I remember in Windows 7 the only thing that I ever used was the Windows firewall.

    Reply
  3. Marinus

    I beg to differ. I have used Windows Defender for quite a while now entirely to my satisfaction. I have not encoutered any problems during the whole period.
    It has always been kept up to date by MS automatically; I also like th way it is actually a part of Windows 10.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      Beg to differ with what? The information in the article is based on facts that you can check out. Microsoft Windows Defender rates very low on independent tests conducted by independent testing labs. We have worked on thousands of PCs since 2011 when we started our Cloudeight Direct Computer Care and we have seen computers infected with malware, hijackers, viruses and more. Many of the computers that were attacked by the ransomware Cryptolocker and WannaCry were protected by Windows Defender. Microsoft finally took steps to block ransomware, but it is not automatic. Here’s a recent text result from AV Labs (independent testing labs). Emsisoft Emergency Kit uses the same scanning engine as found in it Emsisoft Anti-Malware. This test was conducted in October 2017:

      Emsisoft vs. Windows Defender

      You can differ with opinion, but it’s hard to argue with facts. I wonder how your computer would fare if we ran a malware scan on it. If you’d be interested to find out, let me know.

      Reply
      1. Wildroo

        I have to agree and have seen a tech for over 30 years the amount of Pc’s I had seen when I was working all running MS based AV options all had massive underlying infections and other bloatware crap killing their systems.
        Recently I have been doing my on testing and by disabling the defender systems via group policies I noted a lot of bugs within Windows or more to the point efforts to force users to keep defender running in the background no matter of your AV install

        Unlike the the author of this post I do not take note any so called independent testing as the reality is that nothing is independent now days and a simple Google and you can find multiple results for so called independent testing
        The reality is today what we call a virus is different to what we called a virus in previous years from bloatware to key loggers and simple cookies all things can be used to profile a user and this is where the money lies and this governs many AV and malware solutions.
        What you fail to cover within your article is the aim of defender and that is not a replacement for a dedicated AV solution but a safeguarding system to try and prevent catastrophic system failures caused by virus or malware plagues across the internet.
        I do not know why it is being pushed within your article as anything else

        Reply
        1. infoave Post author

          Microsoft certainly does claim that Windows Defender is a comprehensive security solution. This is what Microsoft says about Windows Defender:

          Windows Defender Antivirus
          Keep your PC safe with trusted antivirus protection built-in to Windows 10. Windows Defender Antivirus delivers comprehensive, ongoing and real-time protection against software threats like viruses, malware and spyware across email, apps, the cloud and the web.

          That is a direct quote from this Microsoft page. We bolded the word “Comprehensive”.

          As far as not trusting independent antivirus testing labs: I’d much rather trust them than random google searches which turn up such things as PC Matic, ScanGuard and other worthless – even dangerous “security software”. You’ll also find that PC Magazine, C|Net and others will recommend any security software that pays them the most. We are not aware of any AV testing lab that is on the take from AV vendors, but if you have any information [proof] about any AV testing lab that alters test results because they are being paid to change the scores by security software vendors, please send it our way.

          We did our research for this article and we stand by its content.

          Reply
  4. Derek

    How can I get rid of Windows Defender. It is driving me potty by stopping access to the internet. I have to switch it off to get online. I also use Emsisoft.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      You cannot get rid of Windows Defender because it’s part of Windows 10. You can turn it off. I don’t see how Windows Defender could keep you from connecting to the Internet. Emsisoft works well along side of Windows Defender.

      Reply
  5. Karen P.

    I would like to say that Emsisoft is great. I feel safe using it and when I have had a question David Biggar has always been quick to respond. Thanks to you folks at Cloudeight for also being of great help when we need it.

    Reply

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