Can You Trust Windows AntiSpyware?

by Preston Gralla

You don't have to be a fan of conspiracy theories to think there's something fishy about Microsoft deciding that Claria's much-maligned adware is no longer a PC pest, even though other anti-spyware makers considers it so.

Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware no longer quarantines Claria adware when it finds it on a PC. It instead recommends that it be ignored --- in other words, that it be left on the computer instead of being deleted. Windows AntiSpyware was originally anti-spyware from Giant Company Software, and that software recommended that Claria be quarantined. But then Microsoft took over, and after Claria requested that its software no longer be considered a pest, Microsoft complied.

So what's fishy? Plenty Microsoft is said to be negotiating to buy Claria for half-a-billion dollars, putting Microsoft in line to be the biggest purveyor of adware on the planet. So you might be excused for thinking that there might be some kind of quid quo pro between Microsoft and Claria. And you might also be excused for thinking that Microsoft is paving the way for its own adware not to be considered a pest, if it ends up buying the company.

Microsoft, through a public letter, has denied any kind of funny business, claiming "Absolutely no exceptions were made for Claria."

I don't buy it, though. It's too coincidental a set of circumstances. Microsoft should put Claria software back on the quarantine list, the way the software is in other anti-spyware programs. To do anything less makes it appear there's a very clear conflict of interest.

What do you think about Micrsosoft's decision to stop quarantining Claria software?