Microsoft is releasing a new security app called Windows Defender Security Center to house all Windows 10 security settings, as well as its Windows Defender anti-malware and third-party antivirus.
The new security-management app will arrive as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update, which is slated for general release around April and currently available for testing in the Windows Insiders program.
The app is meant to give users a snapshot of the current state of their PC and a central place to access what Microsoft calls the five pillars of protection, which consist of virus and threat protection, device performance and health, firewall and network protection, app and browser controls, and family options.
Each pillar, displayed as an icon, gets a green tick if it is up to date or a red cross if action is required.
The app will be where Microsoft's built-in Windows Defender Antivirus displays malware scan results and threat history. Users who have gone with a third-party antivirus product can launch their security apps from this screen too.
Microsoft says the aim of the new Defender Security Center is to make security simple, while ensuring the device is never left unprotected, for example, when a subscription to a third-party AV product expires. Microsoft insists the new app will not prevent users from selecting third-party products.
In November, Russian security vendor Kaspersky complained to the Federal Antimonopoly Service that Microsoft was using Windows 10 to squeeze out rivals and nudge them onto Defender.
"This new experience naturally supports customer choice in selecting an AV product. In addition, if your subscription or paid antivirus software should expire, Windows Defender Antivirus will kick in to provide protection by default until you take further action," writes Rob Lefferts, partner director of Microsoft's Windows and devices group.
"Finally, it is important to ensure that you are in control of your PC. Windows 10 respects your freedom to choose protection software and services that you like best
Under device performance and health, the app will display the latest Windows updates, drivers, battery life, and storage capacity. It also houses the recently introduced Refresh Windows feature, which shipped with the Defender app in a recent Insiders' update.
This option zaps all apps that don't ship with Windows and then reinstalls and updates Windows while keeping personal files and some Windows settings.
The firewall and network protection page offers a view of network connections and active Windows Firewall settings, while app and browser control is where SmartScreen settings can be adjusted for protecting apps and browsers online.
Lastly, the family options page offers shortcuts to parental controls, tools for monitoring kids' activities and managing controls for buying apps and games.