Windows Defender, the anti-malware software that's built in to Windows, is going to start removing utility software that tries to scare users into upgrading, starting in March.

The Windows software ecosystem has a large variety of software of dubious merit that claims to detect and diagnose faults. These programs often offer a free version that purports to find problems and a paid version that can supposedly repair those problems. Frequently, the problems detected by this software are either nonexistent or misleadingly described, spuriously blamed for crashes or poor performance.

Under Microsoft's new policy, any software that the company deems to be coercive will be a candidate for removal. Coercive elements include software that's particularly alarming or exaggerates the risks, software that says the only way to repair the problem is to upgrade, and software that tells users they must act within a limited time. Direct payments will be penalized, but so too will apps that require people to take surveys or sign up for newsletters.

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