Windows 10 will block potentially unwanted apps by default

Windows 10 unwanted apps protection

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.

For those unaware, 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.

The potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) mostly come bundled with
the primary app downloaded by the user, and they’re not
necessarily dangerous. According to Microsoft, these apps are
considered PUAs: Adware, Torrent (Enterprise PCs only), miners,
bundling software, marketing software, and apps with poor
industry reputation.

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,” the company said in a support
document published over the weekend.

Without a doubt, this is a good feature for normal users not
familiar with unwanted apps that can be harmful.

Presumably, 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.

According to the support documentation, Windows 10’s new
security policy would come into effect in “early August”, so
it’s possible that the update has already started rolling out
in stages.

Additionally, 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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