Windows Firewall Control adds more control to the Windows Firewall.

Extend the control capabilities of the built-in Windows Firewall with this free app.

Recent versions of Windows pack some underrated security tools, such as the Windows Firewall, which compares favorably with quite a few better known firewalls and even plays nicely with many of them. Windows Firewall Control is a simple bit of freeware that extends the capabilities of the built-in Windows firewall controls. It adds icons and entries to the system tray, desktop, and other locations; adds shell integration in Explorer menus; and other options.

When installing Windows Firewall Control, you're presented with a small dialog containing a variety of check boxes for configuring how you access the program and how it starts. If you run the Windows Firewall at startup (and you ought to, if you run it at all) you can set Windows Firewall Control to run at startup, too. When we'd made our choices and finished the setup process, a small shield logo appeared in the notification area, also known as the system tray. The shield's color indicates Windows Firewall's filtering status; high, medium, low, and no filtering, for when the firewall is turned off. Clicking the icon opens the program's compact console, which offers tabs for Profiles, Options, Policies, Shortcuts, and About. The Profiles tab includes Windows Firewall's filtering slider, a button to access a detailed rules manager, and the ability to lock the current configuration. Among the options is the ability to enable Learning Mode and display notifications. We could also import and export policies.

The interface stays pinned to the corner and can't be dragged around, and you can't pin it open or specify always-on-top. The ability to keep the interface open would add to this tool's usefulness, which is certainly keeping with its mission to extend the functionality of the built-in Windows Firewall. If you use the Windows Firewall, try Windows Firewall Control.

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