With the release of Windows 8 Microsoft added Windows Defender by default. It is a good little security app and does not bog down your computer as some third-party ones have a tendency to do. In fact, most customers will not even realize it is there, but that is both a good and bad thing. Good in the sense that it does not interfere with your daily tasks, but bad because it also is not ready for simple use. It is not in the system tray, nor is it a part of the right-click context menu, as many anti-virus programs are. It runs a scan in the background once per month when it receives new definition files via Patch Tuesday. The app does however continue to work full-time in the background.
Now there is a new app, called Windows Defender Status Manager, that gives you better access to this little security tool. The file is lightweight -- only 340 KB in ZIP format.
The app requires .Net Framework 3.5 and if you do not have it then you will be prompted to get it. Installation, especially if you do not already have the proper .NET installed, can take a while.
During setup you will be asked if you would like to add an option to the context menu. This allows you to right-click a file and choose to to do a direct scan. This is handy if you have downloaded a program that you may have some reservations about.
Once installed, you will find a Defender icon in your system tray. You can right-click this to launch Defender and from there you can check the apps current status and also do a quick, full or custom scan.
From Windows Explorer you can right-click a file and choose "scan with Windows Defender". This makes checking questionable files much simpler.
I noticed one glitch, which seems to place a red "X" over the icon indicating Defender is disabled, even though it is not. Initailly there was a green check mark, but that quickly changes even though the status did not. Its a minor point, but annoying none-the-less. On the whole though, the app does make Defender much more useful. It adds features that should have been built-in by Microsoft. But, none of this means you shouldn't have a good third-party app to help with security.