AV-Comparatives AV-Comparatives releases list of working consumer AV programs for Windows 11

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Independent security test lab AV-Comparatives has released a list of compatible consumer antivirus programs for Windows 11. With the new Microsoft OS due to be released to the public on 5th October, anyone planning to upgrade or buy a new Windows 11 PC will need to know how to protect their new system against malware. AV-Comparatives have checked all 17 products in their Consumer Main Test Series, to see if they function as expected under Windows 11.

Running Windows 11 on unsupported hardware

As noted in a previous AV-Comparatives blogpost, Windows 11 has specific hardware requirements, such as particular CPU models, Secure Boot, and a TPM 2.0 chip. Many existing PCs do not meet these specifications. One week before the release of Windows 11 to the public, the position regarding the installation of the new OS on unsupported hardware was still unclear. There have been suggestions that Windows 11 might install on PCs that do not meet the minimum requirements, but that these systems would not receive security updates from Microsoft. Should this turn out to be the case, AV-Comparatives strongly advise against using such systems. Windows Updates are an essential part of computer security, regardless of which antivirus solution is used.

Glitches in Preview Builds of Windows 11

The test lab notes that the Preview Build of Windows 11 used for the check – 22454.1000 – was commonly affected by minor glitches and delays in everyday tasks such as displaying the Start Menu when the Start Button was clicked. These also affected third-party programs such as security apps. However, this would not affect security, provided the user employed common sense, by e.g. waiting for definitions to update before downloading potentially risky files from the Internet. Testers also found that a few programs did not detect the EICAR Test File on Windows 11, whereas they would do on Windows 10. However, all of these programs detected actual malware exactly as expected.

Checking procedure

For its compatibility check, AV-Comparatives installed each antivirus app on a clean-base system with Windows 11 Preview Build 22454.1000. When installation was complete, a manual update of the local malware database was run (where available), and the PC was restarted. After this, testers checked that the program had registered itself as the antivirus program in Windows Security. Next, they disabled the respective app’s real-time protection, then noted whether a warning was shown, and if the protection could be reactivated using the “Fix All” button provided by the vendor. Real-time protection was reactivated for the remainder of the checking process.

In the next step, AV-Comparatives attempted to copy malware samples from a network share to the Desktop folder of the Windows 11 system. If any of the malware samples were not detected by on-access protection during the copy process, they were executed. Next, this procedure was repeated, but using malware samples on a connected USB flash drive rather than a network share. An on-demand scan of malware samples on a connected USB flash drive was also run. Finally, the antivirus product was uninstalled, to check that it was removed cleanly, and deleted its registration from Windows Security. If this did not happen immediately after deinstallation, the system was rebooted and checked again.

Caution is advised

AV-Comparatives state that while they have carefully checked the major functions of the specified AV apps on Windows 11, they cannot take any responsibility for the correct functioning of any of them. AV-Comparatives also recommend installing a trial version of any AV app before making a purchase. Users should also note that unless a vendor specifically states that their product is compatible with Windows 11, support for it may be limited.

AV-Comparatives additionally suggest backing up important data, and making a disaster recovery plan (such as creating a restore point in Windows System Protection), before making any significant changes to the system. They also advise that performing a clean install of Windows 11, rather than an upgrade from a previous version, optimises the chances of getting a perfectly running system.

Finally, AV-Comparatives stress that the functionality check they ran for this report used only a handful of malware samples, and each program only had to detect the same number of these as it would on Windows 10. For details of protection and performance tests run under Windows 10, please visit AV-Comparatives’ website, www.av-comparatives.org.

Compatibility requirements

To pass AV-Comparatives’ compatibility test for Windows 11, each program had to do the following:
  • Install successfully, without requiring specialist knowledge or workarounds
  • Activate real-time protection without user intervention
  • Integrate with Windows Security
  • Successfully update malware signatures, either automatically or manually
  • Warn if real-time protection is disabled, and allow the user to reactivate it easily
  • Provide (at least) the same malware detection as on Windows 10
  • Take appropriate action when malware is encountered, ensuring that the system is protected
  • Have no obvious bugs or erroneous notifications
  • Uninstall cleanly and remove its entry in Windows Security
Naturally, the items relating to installation, deinstallation, and integration with Windows Security, only apply to 3rd-party AV programs.

List of compatible antivirus programs for Windows 11

The following programs passed AV-Comparatives’ compatibility check:
  • Avast Free Antivirus 21.7.2481
  • AVG Free Antivirus 21.8.3202
  • Avira Antivirus Pro
  • Bitdefender Internet Security
  • ESET Internet Security
  • G Data Total Security
  • K7 Total Security 16.0.0556
  • Kaspersky Internet Security
  • Microsoft Defender Antivirus, as in Build 22454.1000 of Windows 11
  • Malwarebytes Premium 4.4.6
  • McAfee Total Protection 16.0
  • Norton LifeLock Norton 360
  • Panda Free Antivirus 21.00.00
  • Total AV Total Security 5.15.69
  • Total Defense Essential Antivirus
  • Trend Micro Internet Security 17.0.1181
  • VIPRE Advanced Security
At the time of writing (28th September 2021), none of the vendors listed above officially supported Windows 11. However, it is expected that this will change rapidly once the final version of the new OS is released to the public on October 5th.

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