Sorry, What Exactly is the Point of Windows Defender Security Center?

Posted on January 24, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 50 Comments

Sorry, What Exactly is the Point of Windows Defender Security Center?

Microsoft is often chided for overloading and reusing feature names. And so it is with the new Windows Defender Security Center in Windows 10.

Why do we need such a thing, you ask? That’s an interesting question. But you need to know what it is first. And I challenge you to find the answer in Microsoft’s announcement post about this new feature.

“In the Windows 10 Creators Update, we will introduce a new experience called the Windows Defender Security Center to make it is easier for you to view and control the security protections you choose and better understand the security features already protecting you on your Windows 10 device,” the announcement notes. “Windows Insiders can explore this experience now under All Apps in the Start Menu and provide feedback through the Insider Feedback hub.”

OK, it’s an experience. But what we can’t do is search for it, at least not easily: If you type security into Start Search, what comes up is the Security and Maintenance Control Panel, which is the what used to be called Action Center—that name was appropriated for the notifications hub in Windows 10 in 2015—and what used to be called, before that … wait for it… the Security Center.

The old staleness: The Security and Maintenance Control Panel

Right. Security Center. Remember? It debuted in Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies (seriously, it was called that) about a million years ago.

So Microsoft’s solution to making security more obvious than typing security into Start Search is to create yet another UI, called it some mashed up combination of “Windows Defender”—which still exists and performs anti-malware duties—and “Security Center,” which sort of still exists in Windows 10, and make something new. Called Windows Defender Security Center. Neat!

Another fun bit. If you search for security center in Windows 10 Start Search, guess what comes up? Right. The Security and Maintenance Control Panel. Of course it does.

(The only way I’ve found to bring up Windows Defender Security Center with Start Search is to search for defender, by the way. It’s second after Windows Defender in the results list.)

Worse: There are actually three Defenders in Windows 10 now. Seriously. (OK, four: You can run Defender from the commmand line too, of course.)

Look, I’m trying to have fun with this. But aside from the “fun with naming” stuff, Microsoft really does have a bad habit of providing too many ways to do the same thing in Windows. And of exponentially increasing the number of UIs we need to know about. Remember when one of the core tenets of Windows 95 was to remove all the “Manager” UIs? Yeah. We’re back to 1993, baby.

Here’s an idea. Replicate all Security and Maintenance Control Panel functionality in Windows Defender Security Center. Then, remove Security and Maintenance Control Panel. Then, add Defender scanning capabilities to the Windows Defender Security Center app. And then remove the Windows Defender application, since it’s redundant. Then rename Windows Defender Security Center to Security Center and make sure that is what comes up when someone looks for security. There’s just too much stuff.

Round and round we go.

 

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Comments (55)

55 responses to “Sorry, What Exactly is the Point of Windows Defender Security Center?”

  1. 790

    Did you Snip this into the feedback hub?

  2. 248

    Is this an article being critical of Microsoft's beta Windows build not being completely polished?

    • 6453

      In reply to TheJoeFin:

      I'd say it's rather a criticism of Microsoft keeping important user interfaces in a constant state of flux. Moving someone's doorknobs and light switches every 6 months is no way to make friends with them.

      • 248

        In reply to karlinhigh:

        Microsoft has said many times they are migrating the control panel over to the settings app. It has also been upgrading its first party apps to have a modern look and feel. Microsoft will obviously consolidate Windows security to their modern platforms (settings app and defender app).

        • 1387

          In reply to TheJoeFin:

          Obviously? Either you didn't read the article, or you've missed the point entirely.

          Microsoft is rather too fond of providing far too many ways to do the same things, or spreading system functionality across too many separate areas.

          The whole point here is that it is not at all obvious that Microsoft intends to have a single, cohesive (and modern) portal for all the "security" options. Which is what the article calls for them to do. At the very end.

          Seriously, you should read it.

    • 2627

      In reply to TheJoeFin:

      Then all Windows are still in beta.

  3. 5234

    "Replicate all Security and Maintenance Control Panel functionality in Windows Defender Security Center. Then, remove Security and Maintenance Control Panel. Then, add Defender scanning capabilities to the Windows Defender Security Center app. And then remove the Windows Defender application, since it’s redundant. Then rename Windows Defender Security Center to Security Center and make sure that is what comes up when someone looks for security. There’s just too much stuff."

    To hell with all that.  Just bring back Windows Live OneCare.

     

  4. 6993

    To be fair to Microsoft, when you open the awfully named Windows Defender Security Center, you see a pop up telling you that it's still a work in progress app, and that it's not yet finished both in terms of interface and, more importantly, features. It also says on that pop up that that is the reason you still have the old Windows Defender application on your systems, so they're clearly planning to get rid of it.

    As for the Control Panel, they still haven't moved all the settings in the security section to the new Settings app, so until that happens they have to keep it around too.

    That said, the fact that some of the security settings are in the Settings app and some others are in the new (deep breath) Windows Defender Security Center, is confusing to say the least. Oh, and I'm sure there are other security settings scattered around who knows where. 

    A better idea, I think, would be to have a top level Security section in the Settings app and put everything security related in there, instead of apparently randomly divided between the Settings app and the Windows Defender Security Center.

    Because you know, security is kind of important.

    Hey! And even better idea would be to have a Security & Privacy top level section in the Settings app and put everything relating to either security or privacy in there!

    (and yes, I'm going to write a feedback with that) 

     

  5. 6287

    It's still a beta, Paul. The new app even says this when you open it for the first time:

    We're working hard on adding new features and finishing our new look, so not everything is quite ready yet. Some features you're looking for may not be available now, which is why the previous version of Windows Defender is still available on your device.

    So in the final release this app will replace the old Defender. And I would not be surprised if it will replaces the Control Panel thing as well, as they're also adding SmartScreen settings .

     

  6. 5664

    Here's the most important part of all this, and it's a big question: Why is it taking so long to migrate the controls?

    It's hard to believe that it's actually that difficult to do. I mean, there may be far more to it than simply hooking UI elements to change registry values but I can't imagine how there could be.

    For certain elements, like the Mouse control panel, or Display Adapter Advanced settings, they should link to them, and do to those old-style dialogs what they did to the UAC prompt to make them look like they're UWP-based. Quite honestly I'd like it if the legacy theme were updated to more closely resemble the UWP design ethos, or at least the font sizes and control styles.

    • 8834

      They've probably established a priority order and are working through them.

      A big problem with Windows is that a lot of the features buried away in the control panels are "pet features", made to address problems of a certain era, by teams that have long since disbanded.  Homegroups, Sync Center, Disk Cleanup, speech recognition (not Cortana... I mean the thing that lets you do dictation), ClearType Tuner, Color Management, Telephony (dialing rules etc.), IrDA.... the list goes on and on.

      In an ideal world, all this stuff will be moved into UWP and integrated into the Settings app.  In reality, this is going to take years because there's a lot of other important work to do on the product that affects more people.  They're sinking a ton of work into the console lately, which, let's face it, is a lot more important than whether the Display Adapter Properties dialog looks modern.

    • 742

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      The other thing is, some of the old Control Panel applets (such as Mouse) allow 3rd parties to add extra items into them, such as tabs of extra options. I don't think that's possible in UWP yet, so those are probably going to stick around for quite a while. Things like Windows Update and Taskbar have been moved because there's no 3rd party customisation for those.

  7. 5530

    Heard that Donald Trump was going to axe two regulations with each new one introduced? Maybe Windows should start doing that.

  8. 6014

    OMG Microsoft, please listen to Paul.  Just take his last paragraph and do it.  No no, don't ask questions, just do it.

  9. 514

    Actually, I like the new UI, but I agree with all your suggestions -- let's hope Microsoft is listening (or reading :grin)

  10. 8068

    Its important to note that all Modern Apps built on the WindowsRuntime and Not Win32 all have a certain look to them. With that being said, this new app looks like a WinRT app. If so, it means its just another part of the OS msoft is transitioning to WinRT.

     My problem is that, like in the case of Windows Media Player, Its replacement in WinRT, Msoft Groove, doesn't do everything WMP12 did. As a result we have to run both apps concurrently for those who need the older apps functionality. I think as annoying as it is right now, its a necessary evil as msoft continues to build out the functionality of WinRT and the APIs that are part of it.

  11. 4796

    And tell Defender to stop flagging my PC as "potentially unprotected" and requiring a scan when it was last scanned less than 24 hours prior, but has been rebooted. And allow a scheduled scan from within Defender (with a dual setting option in Settings under Security), rather than needing to use the god awful Task Scheduler.  This last point would be altered if your (Paul's) wishlist came true.

  12. 5763

    Frankly I would get rid of both the legacy and UWP defender and the others and just keep the integration in the settings panel.  This seems like the cleanest implementation and least redundant.

  13. 2371

    In reply to TheJoeFin:The point being is that the average Windows User (not an insider) will be confused by all of the screens and not understand what to update, where it is located, etc..  This is OK for insiders and hopefully Microsoft will finish evolving the security/defender screens before the release of the Windows 10 Creators Update occurs or there will be problems.

     

  14. 10158

    If I'm giving the benefit of the doubt here, my guess is that this new security center is destined to replace the old stuff dating back to Windows XP SP2. There are quite a few old control panel elements hanging around that date back to XP/2000. You can often identify them by their blurry fonts and UI elements if you need something other than 100% DPI scaling. 

  15. 5294

    I like your solution very much. If only they'd do exactly that (also the security center should be embedded inside settings).

  16. 3216

    Perhaps I'm the only one here that is so used to MS presenting the same thing 3-4 different ways and constantly reinventing old things and calling them new that all this does is leave me wondering how long it's going to take me to find things this time.

    What I have a bigger problem with is this whole bit about, "we will introduce a new experience".  I would really like to get my hands around the neck of the marketing genius that decided that calling features "a new experience" would somehow make them more exciting.  Of all the drivel that has come out of the marketing departments of the world, this phrase is right at the top of my list.

    A new experience is sticking your finger in a light socket.  A new experience is getting your first &*^%$.  A new experience is what I would like to do to the neck of that marketing genius.

     

  17. 5496

    how long have you been in tech?

    I think you know what beta means by now.

  18. 442

    I was put off by how hard they seem to HIDE this feature.  For those that don't have the time or money for higher end AV and are relatively safe surfers and understand e-mail messages are often false, this is a great thing to have for Windows.

  19. 6319

    This looks more like an issue with the new beta feature being still worked on. I would expect that there would be a search keyword specifically for this other than just defender. I would expect the search results to show both options. Regardless, complaining about this issue like 'this' Paul is a bit petty. File a feedback, reference the feedback and solicit up-votes. I agree that just searching security should result in showing Windows tools under both the category and the name.

  20. 54

    In reply to TheJoeFin:

    (Replying to the premium comment)

    The point is if someone doesn't point out Microsoft's "over exuberance" in adding unnecessary UI's now, they won't pay attention... not that they will pay attention any time soon anyway, 'cause Microsoft...

  21. 1561

    Let's not forget the Windows Defender Hub, which is apparently a UWP app published by Microsoft that provides security-related information and provides a link to open Windows Defender.

  22. 6750

    After trying Mac for a while, I decided a few years ago that Windows is overall a better fit for my needs.

    But I sure do miss the elegance of System Preferences in Mac OS.

    • 6319

      In reply to ozaz:

      I think Windows 10 is on its way there. Migrating settings from the legacy control panel is not an overnight job. Yes, they could slap it in there quickly and haphazardly, or they could do it in a way that makes more sense to the long term goals of the ecosystem. Alot of the control panel applets came from as far back as Windows 2000 & XP, when touch and mobile computing were pipedreams.

      I'm a fan of doing it as right as you can the first time, because knowingly doing something that you have to fix later doesn't actually save any time, with some limited exceptions obviously.

  23. 2481

    Oh whats in a name anyway!  Quit trying to remake the wheel. This is why Windows 7 still has so much market share.  People dont like all the changes.  

  24. 3508

    You are right, search is utterly broken in Windows 10. The reliant on "Windows Search" seems to be a mistake. It is way to slow to keep up with typing, and when installing a new application, it can take minutes before it's searchable..

  25. 533

    The new UI illustrate one problem in Microsoft's own new UWP apps (other examples Calculator and Weather). They completely ignore the users regional settings, so date formatting is according to UI language and not what is specified in regional settings. These types of issues have been there in Windows 10 all along, but Microsoft have so far ignored all feedback related to these.

    They should make an effort to clean up all duplicate functionality in Windows and all to review all functionality which is already incorrectly moved to settings or other new internal UWP apps. Something to add to the next bug bash perhaps?

     

  26. 180

    A-men. Microsoft needs to create a unified interface for this stuff, (which is what Defender Security Center should be), including access to the firewall as well, and allow it to link back to third party antivirus if that is utilized. If you're increasing complexity, not reducing it, you're doing it wrong.

    • 248

      In reply to Polycrastinator:

      The Windows Insider program frequently releases products as work in progress. Surely you understand the current state of that one insider build is not Microsoft's final plan for the future of Windows 10.

      • 1584

        The insider program is essentially "alpha", not "beta". The difference being that alpha is snapshots during development and beta is closer in concept to "validation".

        In this light, Paul's article is somewhat off the mark. In fact, when you start up the Security Center the first time there is a disclaimer that this is a "work in progress" and their intention is to replace the other interfaces in the end. Your opportunity, as an insider, is to help guide them in the journey. I find that very little on the feedback hub is of any assistance to that end. In fact it would be a lot better all around if the insider list were curated to just those people who were doing something useful, not just airing their ill-informed complaints. On the other hand, MS probably finds the crash-dumps useful from even these people as it represents a wider range of configurations.

      • 180

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        I think you're both failing to see the forest for the trees. Much of Windows is a mess of different interfaces and ways to accomplish the same task. This has been the case for as long as I can remember, and was compounded by Windows 8. That trend has continued with 10. If they're finally fixing that problem, then great. But I'll believe it when I see it.

        • 248

          In reply to Polycrastinator:

          Surely there are some things that have been held over from previous product releases, but by and large the majority of frequently used UX elements are updated in Windows 10. Most commonly used settings are in the settings app. Windows Defender is just the latest improvement/refinement to do so.

          Is the old Windows 95 File Explorer still used in Windows 10?

          Is the Windows XP Start Menu still used in Windows 10?

          Is the clock flyout from Windows Vista still used in Windows 10?

          Is old Win+Tab cascading UI from Windows 7 still used in Windows 10?

  27. 5394

    There's no point to Defender, and Security and Maintenance. I never knew it was called Security Center. I could never get Defender to work especially if you had another Virus or Malware application running. The multiple programs turned Defender off.

    The Control Panel needs to go away.

  28. 217

    Yet another reason most people don't need Windows. Average people shouldn't have to care about security, period.

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