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The move, which started earlier this month, sees the app installed on all computers that run Microsoft 365, including those that have not subscribed to the service. The app was previously only available to Windows 11 Insiders and customers with Personal or Family subscriptions since June 2022.

Microsoft confirmed the move in a support document updated last week: “Starting in late February of 2023, the Microsoft Defender app will be included in the Microsoft 365 installer.” The app will be automatically installed when a user installs Microsoft 365 or when they update it.

Prior notice for some

Microsoft emailed some Microsoft 365 customers to inform them of the change. However, some users were still surprised to see it installed without prior notification. Unlike Microsoft Defender Antivirus, a Windows component, Defender for Individuals is now a standalone Microsoft 365 app that works as a central dashboard that helps monitor Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android mobile and desktop devices.

The app provides safety alerts and recommendations, such as real-time warnings about device security changes and suggestions on keeping data and devices secure. The malware protection feature is only available on Windows, macOS, and Android phones, while web protection is available on iOS and Android phones. On Windows, web protection is provided by the built-in Windows Security solution.

Microsoft calls the move ‘necessary’

Microsoft explains that “once downloaded, the Microsoft Defender app extends the device protection already built-in to Windows Security, beyond your PC, to your mac, iOS, and Android devices.”

However, the app is not currently available in all Microsoft 365 regions. Microsoft has provided a list of all areas where it’s not available on its website. The move by Microsoft has raised some concerns among users who feel it’s an invasion of privacy.

However, Microsoft argues that the move is necessary to provide users with a better and more secure experience. With cyber threats becoming more advanced, Microsoft Defender for Individuals provides an extra layer of protection to help prevent cyber-attacks and data breaches.

Also read: Microsoft introduces Defender platform for consumers