Since Windows 8, Microsoft’s operating system has come with inbuilt antivirus software. This is called Windows Defender and isn’t to be confused with the Windows Defender anti-spyware package you might have been familiar with from Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. In Windows 10 (and with Windows 8), this is a rebranded version of bootable Pen Drive Microsoft’s Security Essentials antivirus and anti-malware package.
As packages go it is extremely lightweight, using almost no system resources and not slowing your PC. It’s not as effective as some of the dedicated stand-alone packages though and will be disabled if you use one from a third-party such as Eset (which is the package I use), Kaspersky, or Norton.
Windows Defender has two interfaces on a PC. Primarily it is controlled through the Settings app, and you’ll find it under Update & security listed as Windows Defender.
Here are basic controls to activate (or deactivate) the anti-malware package, and if you perform troubleshooting on a PC, it’s worth having a quick look here to see if Windows Defender is active if no other anti-malware package is installed on the PC, though the System and Maintenance panel will inform you if there is no anti-malware package active at all.
More detailed control (which is a bit of an oxymoron for reasons that will become clear) is available by searching for Defender in the Start menu or Cortana to display the full Windows Defender desktop interface.
In time we can expect all of Windows Defender’s functions to be subsumed into the Settings app, and this will inevitably come in one of Windows 10’s annual updates. If searching for Defender does not reveal this desktop app, then such an update will already have been implemented, and all the settings you need will be in the Settings app.
The desktop Windows Defender app allows you to manually run scans of your PC, including a Custom [scan] option which you can use to scan removable media such as USB Flash Drives. Update and History tabs sit across the top of the window from which you can manually update the installed antivirus definitions and view any files that have been quarantined or deleted during scans.
The whole desktop app for Windows Defender is color-coded and will turn amber if it needs an update or red should a virus or other threat be detected. Other than that there’s nothing else here, with the Settings button merely throwing you back into the Settings app.