What’s in a name?? A lot!! Announcing Windows Defender!

Every week seems like a big week for us in the engineering team working on our anti-malware technology. However, last week was especially important in a sentimental way. We got the final name for the cool technology our team has been developing for Windows. The name, after long consideration by our product marketing and branding folks, is "Windows Defender"! What's really cool about this name is that itโ€™s more positive than "Windows AntiSpyware". Windows Defender is about what Windows will do for customers, defending them from spyware and other unwanted software. Our solution has really been about more than just the standard definition of "spyware". Weโ€™ve always said we will provide visibility and control, as well as protection, detection and removal from other potentially unwanted software, including rootkits, keystroke loggers and more.

Making the engineering change from "Windows AntiSpyware" to "Windows Defender" took a lot of careful coordination across our team to ensure that the strings in the UI got changed, the help files all got updated, registry keys, file names and properties, as well as a couple of images all got changed. All this work was completed and tested last Thursday, and is currently making its way through our build systems in Windows to make it into the main build environment, where official builds come from. We're pretty excited by the name, and by the sleek new UI and other improvements we've been making in it to help make Windows Vista the best operating system around! But Windows Defender is about a lot more than just a name change. The engine is now moved to a system service, and signatures are delivered over Windows Update. The detection mechanisms have also been radically improved by applying to spyware threats all the great detection technology we use in our antivirus engine.

As part of this engineering milestone, we've also started to prime the Windows Update software distribution channels with signatures for Windows Defender. This is important so the signatures are available when we ship the next beta. So, for enterprise and corporate customers that are using Windows Server Update Services, you will start seeing "Windows Defender" in the product category dialog as well as a new classification called "Definition Updates". So, now you'll know what that means.

In addition to the work that my team's been doing to develop this for Windows Vista over the past many months, it will also be available to existing Windows XP users, replacing the current Windows AntiSpyware technology we've been shipping in beta since January. More details on that in a future post. If you're not using our current Windows AntiSpyware beta, please give that a try!

I hope you like the name, and we can't wait to get Windows Defender into your hands to try. If you have any thoughts about the name, I'd be happy to read your feedback, and share it with out team. Hopefully in the next few days I can even get a screen shot posted for you!

Best wishes,

Comments (70)

  1. Anonymous says:

    WSUS is not downloading /detecting Windows Defender Updates. Why?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Microsoft announced that Windows OneCare Live codename "A1", which has been in public beta

  3. Anonymous says:

    An eclectic bunch of (mostly techie) bits that don’t really deserve a post each:

    Here’s a really useful…

  4. Anonymous says:

     Finally they decided to change the name of Microsoft AntiSpyware to Windows Defender. I used AntiSpyware…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Finally they decided tochange the name of Microsoft AntiSpyware toWindows Defender. I used AntiSpyware

  6. Anonymous says:

    Microsoft announced that Windows OneCare Live codename "A1", which has been in public beta

  7. Anonymous says:

    Microsoft announced that Windows OneCare Live codename "A1", which has been in public beta testing since

  8. x says:

    I don’t like the new name.

    Ever heard of "Hacker Defender" — it protects malware from Hackers.

    Likewise "Windows Defender" will protect you from Windows!

    Frankly "Windows Antispyware" is a fine name. The name is descriptive to tell you what the product does. You are going to confuse a lot of people with this new name.

  9. mike says:

    I really like the new name. Windows AntiSpyware is a great product also. I really can’t wait for the new build!

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Andre Da Costa says:

    I love it. Its all about having confidence in your computer again and the name says it all. I can’t wait to see the new UI. Will it continue to use a Splash screen or since it will use a system service that won’t be necessary?

  11. Definition updates will be released through Windows Update, once a month?

    Isn’t that a little dangerous? It seems rather slow for a malware definition update cycle. Also, a definition file update shouldn’t need the heavy machinery of a solution designed to deliver executable patches, should it?

  12. Bob Vanderveen says:

    Vista and XP are mentioned but not W2K Pro. Is there any hope?

  13. alex says:

    A little off-topic. There is a bug in AntiSpyware Beta 1. The whole program freezes when it hits a key in the registry with no permissions… Just thought you would like to know.

  14. C. West says:

    I hope this won’t be OLD WINE in a NEW BOTTLE.

  15. Spy says:

    I think the name will hit a home-run on the marketting front. At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t really matter what it is called as long as it does a good job. From everything I have seen it will do just that. The only thing I am waiting patiently for is the corporate version and deployment/management/MMC tools to match.

  16. Chao-Chun says:

    I like this new name. "Windows Defender" is simple and easy to understand. I look forward to the release of "Windows Defender".

  17. Ed says:

    The name is really meaningless. What it does is what matters. Keep the marketing people out!

    Why oh why did you go with Win Update? The best security feature Windows has is the Limited User function. By going to Win Update, you have effectively killed any chance MSAS will ever be able to used by a Limited User.

    I am truly confused on what you guys at MS think about… ๐Ÿ™

  18. Brandon says:

    When can be actually expect this new build? I hope you keep it pretty low resources. If we have to run antispyware, at least make it very lightweight.

  19. smokey says:

    I don’t like the name.

    The name is confusing and not clear.

    What will be defended exactly?

    "Defender" is a general word, and don’t explain what will be defended.

    For sure the "normal" windows user will think windows is complete defended by "Windows Defender", and gives that user a false feeling of security.

    Smokey [Wilders]

  20. Chris Quirke says:

    I like the name for the same reason x doesn’t, heh. As a name, "AntiSpyware" creates two problems for me; it re-inforces the inaccurate term "spyware" (most commercial malware derives revenue in ways other than sending home information, so it doesn’t "spy" on you, as RATs do for example) and it creates grounds for legal challenge from commercial malware vendors who can claim unfair detection because thier software doesn’t "spy", isn’t "spyware", etc.

    By toning down the bad-guy rhetoric ("Our software removes software that users have indicated a desire to remove; live with it") the defense tool vendor can avoid litigation from commercial malware vendors.

    I like these new technical developments, but how will MSFT answer charges from other defensive scanners that they are leveraging an unfair advantage by using the Windows Update system to deliver updates?

  21. zzz says:

    Since no one has asked yet, will it remove Sony’s DRM rootkit that game cheaters have now embraced to hide their cheats from game cheating detection systems such as the one used by WoW.

  22. 3 says:

    Sounds like a super hero.

  23. bill says:

    Will it remove the sony rootkit

  24. Dan Halford says:

    You trusted the renaming of Microsoft AntiSpyware to the same guys that came up with "Vista"? Well, that’d explain the result anyway. Windows AntiSpyware might not have had the sexiest name on the block, but it was to the point and descriptive.

    Of course, Land Rover are going to love the new name too. they’ve only been manking a Defender for fifty years.

  25. David Ruschinek says:

    The new name is fantastic. I have been installing and testing the MS Anti-Spyware since February and I really like it. it is by far the most comprihensive anti spyware tool out there.

    I can’t wait for the next release!

  26. DM says:

    Didn’t I play this game in the 80s?

  27. Leonardo Nakahara says:

    Well, I really agree with X, the one who wrote the first comment. I think Windows Defender will not be as clear as the Windows AntiSpyware name used today. Windows AntiSpyware evokes the protection against all kinds of Spywares. But, as the product evolves, if this product on it’s release time, turns out to be different from an only AntiSpyware software, since it protects the system against a lot more than only Spyware, then I think this is the apropriate name.

  28. sam says:

    i really like your engine …!!

    (Nice technique…)

    But i dont like the new name !!!

  29. Thorsten Hans says:

    I think the new name sound mutch more better. Perhaps there will be an coupe of new names like

    Windows Defender, Windows Live , Windows whatever…

  30. Brian Busk says:

    I like the new name, but I liked the old one aswell.

    Im really glad that Windows Defender will include detection and removal of rootkits, cause it seems like one of the worst security risks in Windows today. The risk is of course higher than it should be because a, normally respected, company like Sony are using the rootkit technology. Hopefully Windows Defender will both detect and remove Sonys rootkits.

    Keep up the good work

  31. So will Windows Defender remove Sony’s rootkit-based DRM ๐Ÿ˜‰

  32. Jonathan Sloves says:

    I like the name Windows Defender far more than Windows Anti-Spyware. It gives you a nice umbrella to grow the services your team can provide. It’s also consumer friendly. Since Microsoft has a huge deal with Marvel on X-Box, perhaps you can get them to create a character for you!

    Since Windows Defender is now an integrated service, I imagine that it will be available for both 32-bit and 64-bit builds. Correct?

  33. Ian Ameline says:

    I sure hope it detects removes and blocks all rootkits — including sony’s DRM rootkit malware thats been in the news recently.

  34. Ryan Palencik says:

    This all sounds great, but when can we expect a enterprise version or similar product that is centrally managed.

    like someone else said, as long as it works I could care less about the name.

    Keep up the good work.

  35. Robert says:

    Its a great name.

    Like Jasong said, its much more positive than antispyware. When i think of "antispyware" and "antivirus" it sounds like a medicine you would take AFTER your infected.

    "Defender" has connotations of fending off malware BEFORE infection.

    Thumbs up ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. Gis Bun says:

    OK. So now it has a name. When does it get released?

  37. Ben Boch says:

    The name will do fine, but using the Windows Update site leaves a lot to be desired. There are too many hoops to jump through each time it is accessed. The changes in July completely did in the automatic updates that were already setup, and too many reboots were necessary to get it back again.

    Bring on more Defender, but let it do it’s own auto-updates.

  38. John Taylor, Tampa, FL says:


  39. David Beaupre says:

    How does this change or integrate with the Microsoft Client Protection software that Steve Ballmer announced a few weeks ago?

    Is one consumer targeted and the other enterprise focused?

  40. Adam Clarke says:

    I don’t really like the name, "Windows Defender". I am not sure what it’s supposed to mean in the first place. It’s a defender for windows, but doesn’t state what it’s defending against in the name (maybe Windows itself).

    However, I like how spyware protection will finally be built into the operating system. Hopefully this will help make Windows much better to use for the average Joe. Once Vista comes out, I might give it a try and switch from using Mac.

  41. SOB says:

    Is it really going to defend, or is it going to eliminate spyware. Windows Eliminator . . . I like that.

  42. Steve says:

    Great new name! (no, "antispyware" is not more descriptive, as this product removes and protects against far more than just spyware.)

    And all the other changes sound excellent as well….which is great considering AntiSpyware is already my favorite such product. Keep up the good work, all.

  43. James Conrad says:

    i wonder by installing antispyware and defender, which one would win, the fighting with each other over who zaps who would be interesting.

  44. Aaron Barbee says:

    At first glance I loved the name Windows Defender, but in reading the other threads it got me to thinking.

    Windows Defender would be a good name for a suite of protection software. "Defender" is a little too vague to be just for AntiSpyware. In my mind, it should be:

    Windows Defender Suite

    -Windows AntiSpyware

    -Windows AntiVirus

    -Windows Firewall


  45. Peter Smith says:

    Great name. It rolls off the tongue easier, and it does describe the product well. I love the product myself – my favorite feature is the detection of spyware attempting to load as you surf the net, and the big red dialog box. Its proactive – I like that in software. Keep up the good work.

  46. alan says:

    Is there any word on when the next beta release is scheduled? It’s been almost four months since the last one.

  47. Heston T. Holtmann, B.Sc.Eng says:

    I don’t care what they call it.. as long as it:

    – dependable

    – reliable

    – doesn’t impede on my dev work

    – easy to use

    – easy to maintaine

    – easy to configure

    – easy to deploy

    – easy to turn off when required

  48. Rob says:

    Don’t really care about the name. all i care about is performance, stabilitily and effectively removing unwanted software on XP.

    Just wondering wether Limited Account on XP will be able to download and install definition manually or automatically.

    also can’t wait to see the screen shots.

  49. ian ainsley says:

    i was surprised to learn that windows anti-spyware is going to be renamed windows defender, very unoriginal…there must be a ‘squillion other defenders out there.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Seriuosly, if you decide to not support 2k there will definitely be issues in the corperate world with this software not being use.

    Will. This. Run. On. Windows 2000?

    I know the current beta DOES, how about this refresh?

  51. Gary says:

    I like the product but have questions about the name. Someone could believe it also defends against viruses.

  52. Dermon says:

    Nice name! When will be the release?

    Thumbs up!

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