Introducing Action Center

Microsoft introduced the Security Center in Windows XP. Windows 7 replaces Security Center with Action Center, which offers greater flexibility. Here you are presented with a console to manage the most common security and maintenance tasks as well as

Figure 15-1. Viewing the security status of your computer

elements associated with your computer. Microsoft has made it very simple and effective to use, and continues with the standard "lighting" scheme of red, yellow, and green for ease of use. Figure 15-1 shows an example of the Action Center management window and its available features.

The Action Center offers you the ability to manage security and maintenance operations on the computer from a single interface. You can find the Action Center in the Control Panel. To open the Action Center, follow these steps:

1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.

2. In the Control Panel, click the "Review your computer's status" link under the System and Security heading.

3. On the Security panel, you'll see the status of security-related features, including you computer's default spyware and antivirus program. If you are using Windows Defender, you'll see alerts about required updates and scans as well.

4. On the Maintenance panel, you'll see the status of maintenance-related features, including your computer's backup status and update requirements. If there are maintenance tasks that need to be performed, you'll have related options.

When working in a workgroup configuration, you'll be able to use related security tools to manage the related security features. In a domain configuration, however, it's unlikely that you'll be able to change security-related settings, because they're usually managed through Group Policy.

Using the Action Center, you can easily identify common security features and the tasks associated with securing your operating system. With the Action Center, you can view the status of Windows Firewall, Windows Update, Windows Defender, Internet Options, User Account Control, and Network Access Protection. The Action Center also lists virus protection status and indicates whether you have installed an antivirus solution on the computer.

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