Microsoft makes Windows Defender ATP available for Windows 7 and 8.1 devices

Microsoft has made Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) available for Windows 7 and 8.1 systems - some six months after promising this would happen.

Users who haven't migrated away from legacy Windows operating systems are now covered by the advanced security platform, built for Windows 10, Microsoft's product manager for Windows Defender ATP Heike Ritter announced in a blog post.

ATP is built into Windows 10 Enterprise and is designed to give added endpoint detection and response (EDR) functionality. The suite also serves as a threat detection platform and allows organisations to investigate potential breaches against their systems.

"To help customers stay secure while upgrading to Windows 10, we've built an EDR solution for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 that is simple to deploy and seamless to end-users, providing behavioural based threat detection, investigation and response capabilities," Ritter said.

"Windows Defender ATP for Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 provides deep visibility on activities that are happening on endpoints, including process, file, network, registry and memory activities, providing security teams with rich, correlated insights into activities and threats happening on older versions of Windows."

Windows Defender ATP can now be installed onto devices running Windows 7 SP1 Enterprise, Windows 7 SP1 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro, and Windows 8.1 Enterprise, according to the company's documentation for the integration process.

But the move has been subject to a delay, having first been announced this time last year, with Microsoft promising to implement the extension more than six months ago, or "this summer" at the time it was first announced.

Extending support for Windows Defender ATP to older operating systems was touted to provide Microsoft customers with better security protection during a transition period, in particular, from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Support for Windows 7 systems will expire in January 2020.

One organisation set to benefit from Microsoft's delayed rollout of Windows Defender ATP is the NHS, which still runs devices on legacy systems including Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and even Windows XP.

The NHS struck a deal with Microsoft last spring to migrate legacy devices to Windows 10 in a package that includes Windows Defender ATP coverage. As part of the deal, NHS Trusts will be allowed to upgrade their devices free of cost if they join a special service - but they must do so by January 2020.

IT Pro asked Microsoft why the Windows Defender ATP extension was delayed by more than six months but has not received a response at the time of publication.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.