Microsoft Is Slowly Moving Away From the Windows Defender Branding

Posted on July 22, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows, Windows 10 with 25 Comments

Breaking news: Microsoft is rebranding Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender.

Well, not really.

Back in March, Microsoft renamed Windows Defender ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) to Microsoft Defender ATP. The company brought Microsoft Defender ATP to the Mac, so it made sense to ditch the Windows branding. And now, that same branding could be coming to Windows Defender everywhere.

In the latest builds of Windows 10 20H1, Microsoft has quietly started introducing the Microsoft Defender branding. In places like the Group Policy editor, Microsoft has multiple mentions of Microsoft Defender with things like Microsoft Defender Antivirus, Microsoft Defender Exploit Guard, etc, as reported by German site Deskmodder.

Even the Windows Security app in Windows 10 has a couple of mentions of the new Microsoft Defender branding, though there are still some places where it’s referred to as Windows Defender. The rollout of the branding is obviously incomplete, and Microsoft is yet to officially confirm the rebranding.

The new branding isn’t going to be limited to Windows 10, though. In the latest Insider builds of the new Microsoft Edge, the Windows Defender SmartScreen has been renamed to Microsoft Defender SmartScreen as well.

Although the rebranding is kind of minor, it could be part of something much bigger. Microsoft ditching the Windows branding from Defender could mean it’s getting ready to bring the product to other platforms like the Mac. And considering parts of the enterprise counterparts of Windows/Microsoft Defender like the ATP is already available on the Mac, the consumer-faced products like the regular Microsoft Defender Antivirus could be making its way to other platforms, too. That one should be quite interesting.

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Microsoft Is Slowly Moving Away From the Windows Defender Branding”

  1. lwetzel

    It certainly isn't consistently changed over to Microsoft Defender.... Most references and setting still say Windows Defenderr...

  2. irfaanwahid

    I miss Windows Live OneCare ?

  3. craigb

    Seems to make sense. Either it is part of the operating system and is more of a feature or setting and so it is just part of Windows, or it is a thing in its own right and so it is Defender. Since it is owned by Microsoft then it makes sense to be Microsoft Defender. Paul, does it have its own brand icon like other products owned by Microsoft?

  4. delicieuxz

    How about just "Windows Antivirus"?


    All the pretension and bloat put into a name, as if there's some magical name that's going to transform what it is, only makes it more confusing and obscure to people. And it looks ridiculous. Windows Antivirus. There, done, that's what I'll call it from here on. I give you permission to freely use the name I ingeniously came up with without having to pay me royalties, Microsoft. Don't waste what I've given you.

    • jdunn0

      > How about just "Windows Antivirus"?


      Windows Defender is not just an anti-virus program, it contains a Firewall (Was called Windows Firewall but it's under the Defender umbrella now), SmartScreen (protects against bad sites, downloads, running programs, etc.) and Exploit Guard (CPU and Kernel protection features like Data Execution Prevention (DEP) and Address space layout randomization (ASLR)), general system health checks (low disk space, battery issues, etc.).

      In Windows 10 version 1903, it appears to be using the name "Windows Security" instead of "Windows Defender".

      So in the end I guess it is going from "Windows Defender" to "Windows Security" to "Microsoft Defender".

      Which happens a lot with Microsoft software, they like to re-brand things a lot.

      Their email service was called Hotmail, then MSN Hotmail, then Windows Live Mail, then Windows Live Hotmail (after customer backlash to not using the name Hotmail) and now Outlook.com (somehow Microsoft managed to sneak this past people as there wasn't the same backlash to the name change this time).

    • Sam Brien

      In reply to delicieuxz:

      Antivirus is a feature, so if you add more features then you’ll invalidate the name.

      Its easy to imagine Defender having Firewall, phishing, spyware, pua, app whitelisting and identity theft defences too. (If it doesn’t already I don’t care enough to google it.), so a general name is fine.

    • codymesh

      In reply to delicieuxz:

      Pretty sure Microsoft explicitly avoided "antivirus" in the name to avoid antitrust lawsuits

  5. ph-sth

    When CoreOS (or whatever it ends up being) comes along, if it really does move away from the Windows branding, this makes sense so that Defender can be installed on there without giving the game up ("ssh... it's sort of Windows but we're not letting on...")

  6. glenn8878

    It's a good sign if they can remove Windows from most other OS products. Windows only work for PCs. It doesn't work for mobile. But shouldn't they just do one word branding? "Defender" should be sufficient to describe the product.

  7. PeteB

    I'll keep disabling this garbage and ripping it out of the install ISO no matter how they try to rename/hide it.

    • jdunn0

      > I'll keep disabling this garbage and ripping it out of the install ISO no matter how they try to rename/hide it.


      Can you be more specific on what part of Windows Defender you don't like and which Windows version you are talking about? The features of Windows Defender vary from Windows 7 to Windows 10 in significant ways.


      In Windows 7, it referred to anti-virus only.

      In Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows Defender has anti-virus and anti-spyware.

      In Windows 10, Windows Defender is an umbrella name for many different security features such as anti-malware, Firewall (was called Windows Firewall previously), SmartScreen, Exploit Guard (CPU and Kernel protections) and more.


      It's the Windows 10 Windows Defender that this article is talking about.


      In Windows 10 version 1903, it seems to be called "Windows Security" instead of "Windows Defender" but according to this article that may change to "Microsoft Defender" in the next Windows 10 version.


      Microsoft likes to re-brand their products a lot for some reason.


      Hotmail is a good example of this as it has gone though 4 re-brands to reach it's current name of Outlook.com.

    • Steve Martin

      In reply to PeteB:

      It's not just a matter of preference, it's a matter of holding the OS vendors responsible for the security of their products. I've said that since the first anti-virus software appeared on microcomputers. Just like they should continue to patch their products for as long as they are supported.


      Third party antivirus software makers have a business case that relies on software with vulnerabilities. I don't find that to be a healthy situation.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to PeteB:

      Stop using Windows from the evil universe. Here in reality, Defender is a well respected AV suite. I’ve never paid for AV and never will thanks to Defender.


      Edit: weird wording.

      • fbman

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        The combination of Malwarebtyes and Defender is one of the strongest security combinations for malware and viruses in the windows environment.


        The pay version of Malwarebtyes has auto-scan features.. its one of the few malware scanners that does not disable defender.. its actually designed to work with it.


        That is what I use.



    • solomonrex

      In reply to PeteB:

      Umm. That's really not a good idea. If you don't trust the platform vendor to secure it, then you really shouldn't trust any of the code.

  8. Tony Barrett

    Sounds to me like MS have a program to de-link any association with core app functionality from 'Windows'. It may just be a re-branding exercise (but why?), although I have a feeling this is more about eventually launching these products on other platforms under the 'Microsoft' name. Microsoft Defender for Android??? Possibly? It could also be about MS pushing Windows further down the stack internally, in prep for another OS launch at some point as they will, I'm sure, have yet another crack at mobile sometime...

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