How to turn on Windows Defender

When you buy a new computer with Windows 8 preinstalled, usually the manufacturer will bundle their own Antivirus utility. Usually a trial version that will last for a month. After which, you will need to purchase a license/subscription to continue using it.

Manufacturers usually include the Antivirus just to lower the cost of the system since the OEM might have a deal with third party to bundle their software as a way of advertisement. Of course, when that Antivirus utility expires, you will have to pay to continue using it. Fortunately, Windows 8 includes a built in Antivirus utility called Windows Defender, not to be confused with Windows Defender in previous versions of Windows. This is actually a successor to Microsoft Security Essentials and is based on the same code base.

OEM’s will disable it when they bundle a third party Antivirus utility such as Norton, McAfee or Avast. The great thing is, when the Antivirus trial has expired, you simply enable Windows Defender and use it as your default Antivirus alongside the other built in defences that comes with Windows 8 such as Secure Boot, UAC, ASLR. What I had discovered though is, Windows Defender is usually not turned on automatically when you remove the AV trial and we will take a look at doing that in this article.

First, Uninstall the Antivirus trial

To avoid conflicts, you should uninstall the trial Antivirus. Lets take a quick look at doing so:

Press Windows key + X


Click Programs and Features

Sam 5

Select the trial Antivirus utility you have installed, then click Uninstall/Change. You might have a different one installed, I have Norton for example.

uninstall AV

This will launch the setup wizard which will guide you through uninstalling your trial Antivirus. Follow the on screen instructions, a reboot might be required.

uninstall AV

During the uninstallation, you might receive a notification indicating virus protection is turned off. You can use this opportunity to enable Windows Defender right away. If not, follow the next steps to enable it yourself manually.


Open Action Center

Press Windows key + W
Type: action center
Hit Enter

uninstall AV 2

Expand the Security menu

Click the Turn on now button for Windows Defender.

Windows Defender should automatically turn on and prompt you update. Do so right away, as the definitions tend to be out of date by many months or years (depending on when you read this).

uninstall AV 3

That’s it, you now have a free built in Antivirus utility you don’t have to pay for.


A Quick look at using Windows Defender on Windows 8


Filed under 8 Journal, Security

3 responses to “How to turn on Windows Defender

  1. shifnakadz

    please provide the expiry

  2. Kent

    Followed your instructions worked perfectly. Thank you Kent

  3. CaptainP75PCR

    It worked. Thanks.

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