February 13, 2018 // 10:59 a.m.
Microsoft has announced it is making its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) functionality available on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for the first time, in apparent tacit admission that corporate uptake of its latest Windows 10 platform is not where it wishes it would be.
Originally introduced as an exclusive feature of Windows 10 before being rolled out to macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux through third-party partnerships, Windows Defender ATP provides corporate users with a centralised control system for improved threat detection and security monitoring. Even as the functionality spread to non-Windows operating systems, though, Microsoft kept ATP a Windows 10 exclusive across its own platforms - until now.
'We hear from our customers security is one of the biggest motivators for their move to Windows 10. Meanwhile, we know that while in their transition, some may have a mix of Windows 10 and Windows 7 devices in their environments. We want to help our customers achieve the best security possible on their way to Windows 10 ahead of the end of support for Windows 7 in January 2020,' explains Microsoft's Rob Lefferts in the announcement. 'That’s why today, we are pleased to announce that we are adding Windows Defender ATP down-level support for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1. Starting this summer, customers moving to Windows 10 can add Windows Defender ATP Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) functionality to their Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 devices, and get a holistic view across their endpoints.'
The move means that Windows Defender ATP is now able to monitor the majority of devices in a corporate network, but also suggests that Microsoft's hope of pushing its business customers to upgrade to Windows 10 from prior releases by keeping ATP exclusive to that platform has not been an overwhelming success. Lefferts' pointed, and emboldened, reference to the cessation of support for Windows 7 in January 2020 and suggestion that anyone still using prior releases must surely be in the process of upgrading is an unsubtle hint to corporate users that for the best security Windows 10 is their only option - something that adoption of the operating system in the wild does not appear to reflect.