Ever since Windows 8, Microsoft’s control panel and software settings have been split between the old Windows 7 Control Panel-style interface and the newer Settings pages that debuted in Windows 8 and Windows 10. The company has slowly been working to unify these disparate pages and options for adjusting system settings. Windows 10’s upcoming Creators Update will take this a step further, with the introduction of a new Windows Defender Security Center. It’s designed to simplify and unify all the various security settings of Windows in the same place. In that sense, it’s somewhat analogous to the Action Center that Microsoft debuted back in Windows XP SP2.
The new security center will include the following settings:
Virus and threat protection: All antivirus product information will be handled from the Windows Defender Security Center, whether you use Microsoft’s own Windows Defender or a third-party application of your own choosing.
Device performance and health: This section will give you a single-page overview of installed Windows updates, drivers, battery life, and storage capacity. It will also offer an option to restore or refresh Windows (keeping some personal files, but dumping applications and non-personal data to provide a “fresh” Windows installation). Once upon a time, this was practically mandatory to keep Windows working well, but it’s still nice to have the option if you need it.
Firewall Network protection: Information about network security, Windows Firewall settings, and network troubleshooting will all be linked here. It’s not clear if this directly replaces the “Networking” button in the older Control Panel settings or if it offers a different way of accessing the same information.
App Browser Control: This allows for manual tuning of SmartScreen settings. SmartScreen is good, but it isn’t perfect — this section allows you to adjust settings on a case-by-case basis.
Family Options: Parental controls, screen time timers, and reports on kid’s online activity will all be gathered here. Health and safety of family devices can also be viewed here (It’s not clear which devices are covered by this option).
A brief video of these options and the new application’s layout is below:
The only quibble I have with Microsoft’s UI and layout is the company’s stubborn insistence on low-density information displays. There’s nothing wrong with displaying large icons and low-density information when you’re working with tablets or smartphones. But it would be nice if Windows had some kind of feature to detect when the end user was working with a traditional monitor and could be configured to display information in a way that makes more sense for that display scenario. Assuming that the screenshot is accurate, the app wastes huge amounts of screen space.
That said, pulling security features into their own central location does make sense, and it should make managing these options easier. Device security is ever-more important these days, thanks to the onslaught of badly secured Internet of Things hardware and manufacturers who can’t resist slapping “smart” functionality into every product they see.
The Creators Update of Windows 10, aka Redstone 2, is expected to debut in April.