Microsoft quietly disables the registry hack used to de-activate Windows Defender in Windows 10

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Microsoft just made it harder for Windows 10 users to disable Windows Defender tool using the registry DisableAntiSpyware hack

Microsoft is again up to its tricks. If you have lived through the era of Netscape Navigator, you will remember how at that time Microsoft forced Internet Explorer down the throats of Windows users and steadily killed Netscape Navigator in the 90s. Microsoft is doing the same thing all over again and this time the target is non-Microsoft anti-virus software.

Microsoft ships Windows Defender aka Microsoft Defender as a bundled anti-virus software with Windows 10. Over the last few years, Windows Defender has actually proven to be quite effective for malware protection. It helps that Windows Defender offers anti-virus capabilities without additional software or any changes to the configuration.

But many Windows 10 users still prefer and depend on third-party anti-virus products like Norton 360, Bitdefender, etc. Some just don’t like having Windows Defender on their computers. Unlike other anti-virus software, Microsoft has made it quite difficult for Windows 10 users to disable the Windows Defender. You can easily disable AV software like Norton 360, Bitdefender Antivirus, etc just by right-clicking their icon in the system tray and disabling them. Some require you to go to the settings option and disable them. Windows Defender does come with a dedicated icon in the Windows 10 system tray, but closing it isn’t possible, as Windows Defender just keeps running on the device no matter what the Windows 10 user does.

Those Windows 10 users who don’t want to use Windows Defender often use a Windows Registry hack using Regedit to disable Windows Defender. This was done by editing the Regedit Windows Defender key and adding DisableAntiSpyware with Hexadecimal of 1.

However, since August 2020 update you can no longer do this. Microsoft released the updated version of Windows Defender 4.18.2007.8 in the last week of July 2020. We had reported how the new Windows Defender update started flagging changes in the Hosts file.  However, one change that went unnoticed is the ability to hack the Windows 10 Registry and enable the DisableAntiSpyware key. 

If your Windows 10 PC/laptop/server has the updated Windows Defender version 4.10.2007.8, you will find that the Windows 10 Registry DisableAntiSpyware key is now ignored.  In other words, if you turn to the registry hack to get rid of Windows Defender, this tried and tested hack no longer works.

Interestingly, third-party AV products can still disable the Windows Defender, only you cant. Microsoft has not publicly announced why it has removed this registry option to disable Windows Defender on Windows 10 PC/laptops.

You may surmise yourself why Microsoft has disabled the Windows 10 registry hack to disable Windows Defender but I smell a conspiracy here. It does seem that Microsoft is pushing Windows Defender down the Windows 10 users throats like it pushed IE with Windows 95.

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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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