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Microsoft deprecates 7 features including Defender Application Guard for Office

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Microsoft recently announced the depreciation of many services including two vital security features — Defender Application Guard for Office and the Windows Security Isolation APIs — along with many others like Steps Recorder, Tips, Computer Browser driver and service, Webclient Service, and Remote Mailslots.

In light of this change, Microsoft has advised users to transition to alternative security measures, specifically utilising Defender for Endpoint attack surface reduction rules, Protected view, and Windows Defender Application Control.

Deprecated features, as per Microsoft, are those features on which development has been stopped and the company will not be investing resources on them. However, this does not mean that the features are removed and users cannot access them. Users can still access them in the current Windows update. But there’s a high probability that the deprecated features will be removed in the next update. You can’t be too sure.

Defender Application Guard for Office, a key security feature for Microsoft 365 Apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, designed for Windows 10 and 11 Enterprise editions, is at the core of this shift. This feature primarily focuses on mitigating potential threats by imposing restrictions on fields downloaded from untrusted sources. It ensures that these files are opened within a secure sandbox, preventing unauthorised access to trusted resources on the users’ devices.

Microsoft routinely deprecates features that it thinks are no longer usable.

Other features deprecated in November include:

  • Steps Recorder: Microsoft urges users to use the Snipping tool, Xbox Game Bar, or Microsoft Clipchamp.
  • Tips: The app gave information about various features in Windows.
  • Computer Browser: “The browser (browser protocol and service) is a dated and insecure device location protocol. This protocol, service, and driver were first disabled by default in Windows 10 with the removal of the SMB1 service,” said Microsoft.
  • Webclient (WebDAV) Service: It is an extension of HTTP and has been deprecated.
  • Remote Mailslots: “The Remote Mailslot protocol is a dated, simple, unreliable, insecure IPC method first introduced in MS-DOS. This protocol was first disabled by default in the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft initially introduced this security feature in November 2019 as part of a limited preview, gradually expanding its availability to all Microsoft 365 customers with supported licenses over the past two years.

In October, Microsoft deprecated VBScript converting it as a feature on demand. There is also a high chance that Microsoft will remove this feature entirely in future updates. Additionally, the company deprecated WordPad and recommended that users should switch to Word for rich text and Notepad for plain text documents.

In June, Microsoft deprecated Cortana for Windows before finally pulling the plug in August.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: