Microsoft adds Windows 7, 8.1 support to Windows Defender ATP

Windows Defender

Microsoft believes that Windows Defender (ATP) should also help in migration to Windows 10 operating system when the support for Windows 7 ends in January 2020.

"For Windows 7 [service pack 1, i.e., SP1] and Windows 8.1, we are building a behavioral based EDR solution", Rob Lefferts, program management director with with the Windows Enterprise and Security division, explained.

The move means that Windows Defender ATP is now able to monitor the majority of devices in a corporate network, but also suggests that Microsoft's hope of pushing its business customers to upgrade to Windows 10 from prior releases by keeping ATP exclusive to that platform has not been an overwhelming success.

According to Microsoft, Windows Defender ATP can be run alongside third-party antivirus solutions, but the company recommends using it alongside Windows Defender Antivirus.

Microsoft has announced it is making its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) functionality available on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for the first time, in apparent tacit admission that corporate uptake of its latest Windows 10 platform is not where it wishes it would be.

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Windows Defender ATP support for Windows 7 SP1 is somewhat of a surprise, considering Microsoft has been slowly but surely de-emphasizing Windows 7 support in the past few years.

Microsoft officials, announcing the company's plans on February 12, said the move to include other older versions of Windows is to help "customers achieve the best security possible on their way to Windows 10".

Microsoft recently partnered with Bitdefender, Lookout, and Ziften to extend the Windows Defender ATP threat detection across Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS devices to ensure that there are no weak endpoints inside a company's network.

That being said, moving to Windows 10 comes with the risk that it may increase the workload on IT staff with multiple updates per year.

IT security teams will receive alerts for known and unknown adversaries, additional threat intelligence, and a detailed machine timeline for further investigations and manual response options. With Windows Defender Antivirus, security teams can see all malware detections and trigger response actions to prevent the spread of malware, in the same console.

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