Say Goodbye to Windows Defender (getting renamed)

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 19, 2019
Windows, Windows 10

I apologize for the rather "clickbaity" title; come Windows 10 20H1, Windows Defender will no longer be a thing in the Windows 10 operating system as Microsoft will rename the tool to Microsoft Defender. So, instead of using Windows Defender or disabling it, users and administrators will use or disable Microsoft Defender instead.

Windows Defender Exploit Guard, the native EMET derivative, will receive the same treatment as it will be known as Microsoft Defender Exploit Guard in 2020.

It is unclear if previous versions of Windows, Windows 8.1 will be the last version left standing after the end of support of Windows 7 in January 2020, will receive the same treatment.

The most recent build of Windows 10 version 20H1, the first feature update build of 2020 and the first major update since Windows 10 version 1903 1905, comes with the changed names already.

If you check the Group Policy entries for the security tool or the Settings application, you will notice the change right away.

If you run that preview build, you may also notice that some tools or features have not been renamed. Windows Defender Smartscreen is still called that, and so is Windows Defender Applications Guard. Whether that is going to remain or changed in upcoming preview builds remains to be seen.

One question has not been answered yet: why is Microsoft making the change? A likely explanation, and our colleagues over at Deskmodder seem to agree, is that Microsoft wants to use the Microsoft name for services and tools that are available on multiple platforms, and the Windows name if a service or tool is only available on Windows.

  • Microsoft -- used for cross-platform products.
  • Windows -- used for Windows-specific products.

It is quite possible that Microsoft wants to bring Microsoft Defender or services related to the security tool to other platforms, and that it made the name change because of that.

Microsoft launched Windows Defender ATP back in 2017 for various platforms including Linux, Mac OS X, iOS and Android, and has renamed the service in the meantime to Microsoft Defender ATP (Advanced Threat Protection).

Now You: Too many name changes or changes that make sense, what is your take?

Say Goodbye to Windows Defender (getting renamed)
Article Name
Say Goodbye to Windows Defender (getting renamed)
Come Windows 10 20H1, Windows Defender will no longer be a thing in the operating system as Microsoft will rename the tool to Microsoft Defender.
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  1. chesscanoe said on July 30, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    I have been using Windows Defender for several years after experimenting with several other products on my Windows 10 Home laptop. Recently I have seen comments from established professional technical writers voicing the same opinion, and now even rates it a top choice as well.

  2. Anonymous said on July 22, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Who cares, just one more stupid move by MS!

  3. ULBoom said on July 22, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Been disabled for third party software for a decade here; the firewall stays running, it’s easy to use. Defender isn’t a great defense and is slooooooow.

    We don’t really pay attention to the names Defender adopts, we just turn it off. One less avenue for data to go to MS; don’t trust them at all.

  4. JohnIL said on July 21, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Windows would be way better in performance without all the he tacked on layered security. I tend all of it off briefly to test and couldn’t believe the improvements. But then off course got all the nags about being exposed to threats and then I realized how much Microsoft had nanny Windows to a point of being the problem not the solution.

  5. bo said on July 21, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Microsoft Defender – Defends Microsoft’s interests – Product activation, telemetry, monetization, not the OS. Apt change, in naming! Kudos, M$!

  6. Anonymous said on July 20, 2019 at 9:06 pm


  7. ZippyDSMlee said on July 20, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    I wish I could do that but all my game and emulator stuff is windows based and even then mac is not prefect in terms of security.. also I’d say apple is more regressive in features and abilities where as MS is just lower quality. Tho if they sold mac OS for 50$ I would at least be more apt to try it..most of my hardware is compatible the last I checked.

  8. ZippyDSMlee said on July 20, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    What I want most in defender is it asking me before it dose anything or asks after stops a process from running…defender is the most backwards a/v program I ever used it eats files without warning.

  9. chesscanoe said on July 20, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    I use the Chrome extension in the Chrome Web Store store called Windows Defender Browser Protection. I assume its name will remain the same.

    1. Anonymous said on July 21, 2019 at 1:16 am

      When everything else is said, its only a name. Does it actually matter if the name is the same or different?

      The question is, “why is Microsoft re-branding”. First thought is ‘Windows Defender for Mac’ is a name association clash (Windows is totally different to MacOS).

      1. AnorKnee Merce said on July 21, 2019 at 7:50 am

        @ Anonymous

        Possibly, M$ has been renaming Windows related software to M$ xyz, in order to prepare consumers to accept the soon-to-come renaming/rebranding/re-selling of Windows 10 to Microsoft 365 = a forced bundle subscription of Win 10 Home/Pro + Office 365. IOW, all new OEM Win 10 Home/Pro computers may soon come as OEM M$ 365 Home/Pro computers which will need a M$ subscription before the OS can be used.
        ……. There is already a M$ 365 bundled subscription for the enterprises/companies.

        M$ is an expert in slow-cooking gullible frogs in a kool-aid solution.

  10. Kevin L said on July 20, 2019 at 11:32 am

    Ironically… I just said “goodbye” to Microsoft/Windows two days ago.
    ‘Hello’ to Mac and non-MS products/services.

    1. Kommenter said on July 23, 2019 at 5:35 pm

      Yo, keep us posted about how it goes. I’ve been sitting on nix machines for a minute now and those ipads with the new iOS are looking yummy, here’s hoping the next one is built to not bend with the slightest breeze.

  11. AnorKnee Merce said on July 20, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Soon, …….

    One Drive will be renamed M$ Drive;
    Azure will be renamed M$ Cloud;
    X-Box will be renamed M$-Box;
    Windows 10 will be renamed M$ 10.

  12. nonW00t said on July 20, 2019 at 2:36 am

    As long as it keeps me away from the third-party bloatware, they can call it whatever they want. lol

  13. Anonymous said on July 20, 2019 at 12:45 am

    Repair instructions: Jack up car, change registration plates.

  14. Dilly Dilly said on July 19, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Changing the name won’t have any effect, m$ av is mediocre, better than nothing and on par with the freebees. For 20$ a year eset’s av is a big step up and well worth it.

    1. Stan said on July 20, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      Interesting, no problems or noticeable slowdown ?
      I’ve been happily using Nod32 since Win 98 days, it’s the only yearly bill I don’t mind paying,works great on Win7.
      I have a second license but have been procrastinating about installing it on a new Win 10 laptop, most posts (free AV users ?) I read say stick with Defender.
      You might have just made up my mind.

  15. Mackleton said on July 19, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    Martin, can you refrain from the silly titles from now on. Sure it draws clicks but it makes your site look bad. :)

  16. Richard Steven Hack said on July 19, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    “available on multiple platforms”

    Uhm, exactly what Microsoft software or service is available on multiple platforms, outside of Office on Mac?

    What “platform” uses “Windows (or Microsoft) Defender” other than Windows?

    1. Yuliya said on July 20, 2019 at 3:14 am

      They want to release it for mac (and maybe Linux too? it would make more sense here imo; say a Linux server hosting Windows binaries). Or at least a part of Defender’s functionality, as on Win10 even the firewall is part of Defender – in fact it’s more of a control for Firewall, but MS wants you to believe the WinFirewall is part of Defender.

  17. Hayden said on July 19, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    I appreciated your headline!

  18. Clairvaux said on July 19, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Microsoft has, untypically, a free and good product here, so I’ll suspend bashing for a while. I retain my bashing rights for the future obviously.

    1. Kommenter said on July 23, 2019 at 5:33 pm

      How dare you not have absolute opinions about things that encompass a wide range of subjects. What is this, nuanced and thoughtful opinions? Disgusting.

    2. Anonymous said on July 20, 2019 at 1:37 am


  19. Dave said on July 19, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    The name change makes sense, the program not so much.

    I use a different A/V product and turning off Windows Defender disables several other windows security settings too.

  20. RG said on July 19, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    For a moment I thought MS is keeping up with Google in the killing off services game ;)

    1. ddk said on July 19, 2019 at 8:27 pm

      Good one!

      Both Google & M$ are evil empires esp M$ getting to be another Linux distro clone with rolling release bugs, misaligned and progressively worse themes & overall clumsy and unpolished systems really lacking consistency or stability.

      Google Chrome killing off content blocking will have me looking for alternatives. The only decent services with Goog are Earth and gmail..(excellent spam filters) Android has too many security issues & becoming less usable with every new release.

      IOS and/or Lineage look better every day.

  21. Gin said on July 19, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    So a marketing tactic.

    Personally, I don’t care. if they can provide me with great security without me having to rely on any other 3rd party antivirus in the market I am happy with them. & the plus factor is the UI of the defender. it’s really good & it really changed my overall experience with the defender.

  22. 420 said on July 19, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Yes because when I think security, one name comes to mind above all else, lol. Too funny.

    1. Patrick a. said on July 20, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      with a name like 420,I wonder what comes to mind.

  23. pHROZEN gHOST said on July 19, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    I wonder how this will affect MalwareBytes Windows Firewall Control?

    1. Yuliya said on July 20, 2019 at 3:17 am

      Shouldn’t affect it at all. Chances are all that’s being modified is the window name, and nothing more, not even the executable. Remembet SkyDrive? It’s now called OneDrive, but in Windows 8 and even in Win LTSB the task is still called SkyDrive. Whatever WFC calls should exist and be there with the same name as before.

    2. Alex said on July 19, 2019 at 11:46 pm

      It won’t because WFC relies on the Firewall, not Defender. Your question does not really make sense.

      If you are implying that the name change alone can somehow affect WFC with a weird bug, then it will be fixed. WFC is still getting updates, especially compatibility/bugfix ones.

    3. Emanon said on July 19, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      That’s entirely unrelated…

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