Microsoft has released a public beta of its Windows AntiSpyware application, based on technology it acquired last month when it bought Giant Company Software Inc. Microsoft also says it will release a malicious software removal tool Jan. 11.
Windows AntiSpyware will help reduce the problems caused by spyware that plague Web surfers: poor PC performance, pop-up ads, and altered Internet settings, says Amy Carroll, director of Microsoft's security business unit. The software will run on Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system and higher. Microsoft estimates spyware causes roughly one-third of all system crashes, Carroll says.
The malicious-software-removal tool will help users remove viruses and worms, such as Blaster and Download.Ject, once PCs have become infected. The virus- and worm-cleaning tool will be updated monthly, or as needed if a fast-spreading outbreak occurs, Carroll says.
Microsoft wouldn't say if it plans eventually to charge for the Windows AntiSpyware application. "We want to get the beta out there to focus on customer feedback," Carroll says. "We'll decide later how we will productize it."
Mark Sidden, IT director at textile manufacturer Unifi Inc., says spyware and even adware have become as much, if not more, of a problem than viruses. "Most of the antivirus applications are fairly mature. That's not true yet with spyware solutions," he says.
Says Sidden, "Anything Microsoft can do to keep its operating systems and browsers clean from spyware and viruses is a step in the right direction."