To keep your PC free from bloat, Windows 10 is going to start automatically blocking Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) from running on the OS.
A PUA isn’t necessarily malware that’ll take over a PC or loot all the data inside. Instead, it’s often shady commercial software capable of dragging down a PC’s performance. Apps that incessantly generate ads, attempt to install other third-party bundled programs, or have gained a notorious reputation from users, all qualify as PUAs under Microsoft’s classification. In a worst case scenario, they can also install something harmful on your PC.
Last year, with Windows 10 version 2004, Microsoft added a new feature to its built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, to detect and stop the annoying programs from running. However, the PUA-blocking feature wasn’t turned on by default. That changes this month.
“Starting in early August 2021 we’ll begin turning it on by default to make it easier for you to keep your systems performing at their best,” Microsoft wrote in a support document, which was spotted by BleepingComputer.
The company’s Windows Security Intelligence keeps a running library of various PUAs. If one is detected on a PC, Windows will display a notification that’ll encourage you to take action. You can then choose to remove the app, quarantine it, or allow it to run on the PC.
Still, not everyone may like the blocking feature. For enterprise-only users, Windows Defender will identify torrenting software as a PUA.
The PUA-blocking feature can be accessed when you go to the Windows Security app. You can find it in the hidden icons tab on the Windows 10 taskbar. Or go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security. Then go to App & browser control > Reputation-based protection. There you can toggle on or off the PUA-blocking feature.