Microsoft Defender Protecting From Coercive Messaging Applications

There have been a lot of programs released that can scan your PC for issues and then give you strong worded advertisements to buy the full version of the software so you can fix the issues. However, these purchases are usually unnecessary. Microsoft is aiming to reduce the practice by changing their evaluation criteria for removing the software with Windows Defender.

I’ve seen the software in question many times, and I’ve had customers duped out of money by purchasing the software. Most of the time, they bring their PC to me to fix the issues that the software claimed it would fix. The first step is usually to remove the offending, paid for software, and then continue on with fixing the other issues.

There are a few questions I have, though. How long before the vendors create a workaround for this detection and what would the workaround be? How many false positives will there be? And, will there be a way to turn this feature off if desired? All in all, it’s a good thing and keeps the consumer protected against this scammy software practice.

We have recently updated our evaluation criteria to state:

Unwanted behaviors: coercive messaging

Programs must not display alarming or coercive messages or misleading content to pressure you into paying for additional services or performing superfluous actions.

Software that coerces users may display the following characteristics, among others:

  • Reports errors in an exaggerated or alarming manner about the user’s system and requires the user to pay for fixing the errors or issues monetarily or by performing other actions such as taking a survey, downloading a file, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
  • Suggests that no other actions will correct the reported errors or issues
  • Requires the user to act within a limited period of time to get the purported issue resolved