The firewall in Windows 7, Windows 8 and newer versions of Windows is a solid software firewall. It is by far not as advanced as third-party firewalls but it does a good job at protecting a computer system running Windows.
The functionality of the firewall has been improved ever since Microsoft starting shipping Windows XP versions with an initial -- basic -- version of it.
It does lack several features that most third-party firewalls offer including usability enhancements like displaying prompts whenever an unknown application tries to create a connection to a private or public network.
Windows Firewall will block the connection if the application is unknown (not listed in the control pael of the software). The configuration can be strenuous especially in the beginning right after the first start of the operating system as you may have to deal with several cases where programs don't work correctly because they are blocked by the firewall.
While it should work fine most of the time without user interaction, as it has been designed for that, you may want better control over the process. Control in this regard means information about programs trying to access the Internet and options to either allow or deny that request temporarily or permanently.
That's where Windows Firewall Control comes in. The free version of the software adds those application prompts to all recent versions of Windows. It displays a prompt whenever an unknown application tries to connect to the Internet so that you know what is happening and can react on it.
The prompt provides you with options to block or allow the process to connect to the network or Internet. If you want, you can allow only incoming or outgoing traffic as well, and make that setting temporary or permanent.
The selected setting will be stored in the program's main interface only. This is one weakness of the program as it does not sync the settings with the Windows Firewall.
This is problematic as it means that configured settings will be gone if Windows Firewall Control is uninstalled or gets corrupted somehow.
The reason for not syncing is that Windows Firewall Control works independently from Windows Firewall. It does grab the configuration at startup but does not communicate with the firewall after that.
You can even disable Windows Firewall completely when Windows Firewall Control is running and won't notice any issues doing so.
The free version of the Windows Firewall Control supports desktop programs and Windows apps introduced in Windows 8 by Microsoft.
All core features, including application events, notifications and connection monitoring are supported by it as well.
A pro version of Windows Firewall Control is available that is offering additional features. Both versions can be downloaded from the developer's website.
Pro versions offer additional features that the free version does not offer. They ship with pre-defined security zones for instance which can be assigned to applications with a single click. About 30 zones like Web Browser are provided with options to modify and create zones as you see fit.
Other features of interest include IP to hostname resolving, port forwarding management or remote control options.
Note that the application is compatible with all recent versions of the Windows operating system including server versions of it. The website offers extensive information about the product, including a manual and specific sections that deal with common features and technologies such as port forwarding or wireless security.