Microsoft Defender goes cross-platform for the masses

Redmond's security brand extended to multiple devices without stomping on other solutions


Microsoft is extending the Defender brand with a version aimed at families and individuals.

"Defender" has been the company's name of choice for its anti-malware platform for years. Microsoft Defender for individuals, available for Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers, is a cross-platform application, encompassing macOS, iOS, and Android devices and extending "the protection already built into Windows Security beyond your PC."

The system comprises a dashboard showing the status of linked devices as well as alerts and suggestions.

However, this depends somewhat on what malware protection is already built in. "New malware protection is not available where these protections exist on iOS and Windows," said Microsoft. The security tips are also Windows and macOS only.

Not stomping over existing solutions and instead showing them in the dashboard is a wise move; we can imagine regulators taking a keen interest in Microsoft suggesting its own anti-malware solutions at the expense of rivals such as Norton or McAfee.

Fragmentation is, however, annoying. It is also a pain for consumers faced with the challenge of multiple devices scattered around the family. The dashboard is, therefore, a good start.

The platform uses the same tech deployed by enterprises in the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint world and includes "continuous antivirus and anti-phishing protection," according to Vasu Jakkal, Corporate Vice President for Security, Compliance, Identity, and Management at Microsoft. Subject to the provisos above, of course.

Microsoft said it plans to plug more functionality into the dashboard, including identity theft protection and secure online connections.

Despite vulnerabilities turning up in its products on a depressingly regular basis, Microsoft has banged the security drum for years now, with both acquisitions and product launches in the arena.

This latest move to general availability will be welcomed by subscribers to its Microsoft 365 Personal and Family plan, but one can't but help wonder if the effort that has gone into the glossy dashboard might have been better spent dealing with some of Windows' more egregious security flaws. ®

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