September 22, 2023

Microsoft’s Windows Defender functionality has significantly improved since the release of Windows 10 in 2015. With Windows 10 version 2004 (May 2020 Update), Microsoft added a new optional setting that makes potentially unwanted apps (PUA) blocking easier in the operating system.

Potential Unwanted Apps (PUAs) are not considered malware, but they can be harmful in other ways. These apps typically include adware and other unwanted programs that accompany apps that you download from the internet.null

Last year, Microsoft added a feature to Windows 10’s Settings app that lets you instantly block potentially unwanted apps using Windows Defender SmartScreen. This feature is not exclusive to Edge browser and it can be enabled for the entire operating system, allowing Microsoft to block unwanted apps.

It’s long been available as an option, but Microsoft recently announced it will “start automatically enabling the feature on desktops running Windows 10 May 2020 Update or newer.

“Starting in early August 2021 we’ll begin turning it on by default to make it easier for you to keep your systems performing at their best”

Microsoft Statement

Microsoft’s hope is that people stick with automatic PUA blocking once it’s enabled. However, there’s a chance that Windows 10’s security feature will flag legitimate apps as “unwanted”. Fortunately, Microsoft will let users disable the option from Settings:

  1. Open the Start menu and search for Settings.
  2. Select Update & Security.
  3. Select Windows Security.
  4. Using the left sidebar options, navigate to App & browser control tab.
  5. Look for “Reputation-based protection settings”.
  6. Toggle the “Potentially unwanted app blocking” option to enable or disable it.

This potentially unwanted app setting comes with two options: apps block and downloads block. When the first option is selected, Windows will detect files/apps that are already present on the device and block them. On the other hand, the “block downloads” will work only in Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft is also working on new security improvements for its Chromium-powered Edge browser. This includes Windows Hello integration and HTTPS-only mode in Microsoft Edge.

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