Windows 10 to start blocking potentially unwanted apps by default

Screenshot of the potentially unwanted apps default blocking feature
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has announced that potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) will be blocked by default on Windows 10 starting this month.

Also known as greyware, PUAs tread a fine line between malware and legitimate software. Although they are likely to be part of a free software bundle willingly installed by the user, they are known to pose risks ranging from taking up computing resources to threatening user's security or privacy.

Previously, Windows 10 users who wanted to use the blocking feature had to turn it on in the App & browser control settings. Yet starting “early August”, the functionality will be turned on by default.

This is in order to protect Windows users from “software that you often don’t need and probably don’t want”, that is capable of causing a device “to run slowly, display unexpected ads, or at worst, install other software which may be more harmful or annoying”.

Microsoft made the announcement in a support bulletin post, stating that the move was designed to ensure systems perform at their best.

However, it also added that users who would like to turn off the default setting, whether permanently or temporarily, will be able to do so by going to the Windows Security app > App & browser control > Reputation-based protection.

Users will be able to choose if they would like to keep blocking apps, downloads, or both.


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“We recommend that you turn this feature on, and that you enable both block apps and block downloads,” Microsoft said in an additional post.

The option to disable the feature might be especially useful for users who would like to keep their cryptocurrency mining applications and torrent software, which from now on might be classified by Microsoft Defender as a PUA and removed.

The feature is available as part of Windows’ May 2020 update and is compatible with versions starting Windows 10 2004. However, customers who are unable to see the default blocking feature are asked to “run Windows Update and make sure you have the latest version”.

The announcement comes weeks after Microsoft confirmed that it will end support for Windows 10 in 2025.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.