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Windows SmartScreen

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Windows SmartScreen

jsmorley » January 23rd, 2016, 3:28 pm

Windows SmartScreen

With Windows 10, there is a new feature called SmartScreen that is enable by default in the OS. This is intended to offer some protection when you download an executable file from the internet. The intent is to warn you if something you downloaded is new and unknown to Microsoft when you try to execute it.

The idea behind SmartScreen is "reputation". It is a heuristic approach that uses a combination of any digital certificates applied to the program executable, and the number of Windows users who have downloaded and installed the program. Basically, the more users who have installed the program, the more Microsoft tends to "trust it".

What to do if you get a SmartScreen warning when you run an executable you download

Assuming you trust the source of the file you downloaded, you should do this to deal with the SmartScreen popup dialog:
Note that the background color of the dialog can / will be different each time it comes up. This doesn't mean anything in particular, just a way of having it catch your attention better.

Controlling SmartScreen options

You can change a seting to control the operation of SmartScreen:

My view of it is that SmartScreen is a good thing to have at that first level if you have your kids using your computer, and you just don't give their accounts "administrator" access. Then they just can't install that malware they downloaded from their loser friends on Facebook. The second level, which just "warns", is less useful. It is just another dialog that you (and they) may soon just learn to ignore and click-through as fast as possible. The last option assumes that anyone using the computer has some idea of what they are doing, and are not going to be downloading and installing stuff from sketchy websites.

Nothing wrong with SmartScreen as such, and even for the most experienced and careful user, it can add some useful protection if set at the first or second level, as long as the warning dialog at least makes you stop for a second and think. If it becomes like the User Account Control dialogs we have all learned to ignore and mash "Yes" as fast as we can, then it's just an annoyance and can be turned off.

The important thing to remember is that a SmartScreen dialog doesn't mean that the program you got from the internet is "suspicious" or that Windows has identified it as a "problem". SmartScreen is not an antivirus program. The dialog simply means that the program you downloaded is "new" in the eyes of Microsoft / SmartScreen, and hasn't built up enough "reputation" by being downloaded by a bunch of people yet. It's very much a "social reputation" process, where the more people download and install the program, the more SmartScreen will "trust it". The only question you should ask yourself if you get the dialog is "Do I trust where I got this from?". But then, you should always ask yourself that when downloading / installing.
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Re: Windows SmartScreen

red.razr » April 2nd, 2016, 3:55 pm

jsmorley wrote:Windows SmartScreen
With Windows 10, there is a new feature called SmartScreen...
IMO, M$ doesn't know what "Smart Screen" is, they absolutely don't know the definition of "smart."
<in my best Al Pacino>.. "...I've been around ya know..." Oh well, best not complain too much, I'm on Win8.1.
"Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus