Microsoft Releases Spyware Removal Program

by Ming Chow

Related link: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=321cd7a2-6a57-4c57-a8bd…



An interesting way for Microsoft to start of the new year indeed. The application is called Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware, currently a beta version. The download page touts the new program as:



[Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) is] a security technology that helps protect Windows users from spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Known spyware on your PC can be detected and removed. This helps reduce negative effects caused by spyware including slow PC performance, annoying pop-up ads, unwanted changes to Internet settings, and unauthorized use of your private information. Continuous protection improves Internet browsing safety by guarding over 50 ways spyware can enter your PC.


This news was obviously an eye-opener when I first saw the news on Slashdot. I am highly curious about this move by Microsoft. In particular:




  • Is Microsoft's business going reactive? First, they finally decided to incorporate a (more visible) firewall in the operating system, which is not a novel concept (Linux and Mac OS X were already ahead of the game). I say that the firewall in SP2 is "more visible" because there actually was a way to enable a "firewall" in the original XP, though not really publicized to the general public. Now, a spyware removal program, which again, is not a novel concept. What's next, Microsoft's own anti-virus program?




  • How good is this new spyware program compared to Ad-Aware, Spybot, etc., which already exist, are popular, and are reasonably effective? Will this put companies such as Lavasoft (publisher of Ad-Aware) out of business?



The most important question I have is:




  • What does this say about Microsoft? The message that I am getting from this message is that: "Hey, Microsoft Windows is a highly vulnerable operating system, and spyware and viruses can easily propagate through it." My point is, if an operating system is reasonably secure and designed correctly, then such spyware application and a plethora of third-party security utilities are not necessary. Even worse, Microsoft admits that their new spyware removal program is buggy. A buggy software on top of buggy software is not a good thing.



My skepticism on Microsoft's move may sound a bit harsh. The good thing about this is that Microsoft is making the initiative to do something about the spyware problem. Most importantly, "not a lot of people understand what spyware is or how to contain it, that should change when a computer giant such as Microsoft brings it to the attention of the masses" (thanks St. Clown).


6 Comments

mfflynn
2005-01-06 10:11:46
Microsoft IS planning an Anit-virus program!
http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1747802,00.asp


and
http://www.hellyeahbitch.com/archives/2005/01/041555.php

merlyn
2005-01-06 13:21:15
for an alternate view...
http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/05/Jan/spyware.html
aristotle
2005-01-06 14:03:35
Microsoft Antivirus
This actually existed way back in the day of MS-DOS 6.22. History obviously repeats as a farce…
myc18
2005-01-06 15:22:25
for an alternate view...
The joke has some truth, and frankly it is sad. How many people have asked you: "I have so much spyware on my computer. What should I do?" The best thing to do really, is to reformat your hard drive and reinstall everything. Removing spyware is one thing, but what about all those registry keys that still lingers? And the dependencies? And worst of all, what happens if the spyware spreads after you thought you deleted it?!?! Whatever the case may be, your computer is still going to act up!
jwenting
2005-01-07 04:03:07
it's beta...
"after all, Microsoft admits it's buggy".
Well, why do you think it's still beta? If they were reasonably certain they'd all the bugs out of it they'd have released it as a complete product, not a beta.


Your entire post sounds like just another attempt to slam Microsoft whatever they do or don't.


A few days ago you (or a colleague) complained that Microsoft does nothing against spyware, now you complain that they do...
If Linux were the main OS people were using that would draw the majority of spyware authors. If a large enough percentage of users move to Firefox as a browser the crackers will start to exploit that (there's more outstanding serious security issues for FF than there are for IE yet the time to fix is longer for FF than it is for IE making it a potentially highly lucrative platform for malware authors were it not that the userbase of intended victims is too small to make it commercially viable...).


It all sounds incredibly childish from a group of people I largely respect as professionals.

NobleHead
2005-09-16 14:56:38
it's beta...
OK; First and last, Microsoft and Linux both owe respect to the same software ancestors.
(Ican't wait to here the nay-sayers to that statement.)
Best of all for those who simply do not choose to use Windows, there is still a plethora of choices that really are stable and compatible, may not stay that way but then: I am what you could call an Operating Systems Mugwump; another words I don't swear allegiance to any particular group(s).
When it comes to hardware? Now that's a different matter all together and another subject for another day. ;-)


The great gulf that exists between the two sides, exists now because for some reason the one side that chooses to make itself so different and non compatible with the rest of the industry, also has the broadest base distribution (If you believe the polls.). And has the greatest financially base. Why there isn't mutual respect and appreciation from both for their respective craftsmanships you decide.


As far as the writers of ad-ware, spy-ware, virus, and Mal-ware in general, I have a special cold place in mind for their residence.


Microsoft has been late on the scene to the approach of overtly preventing or getting rid of Mal-ware or those who produce, and promote the use of such software insanity. However late is better than not at all.


My first experience with a serious Mal-ware issue was when some how a “Bot-net” copied itself to my “Windows” directory as a clone of “Windows Explorer.” I spent 3 days cleaning up the mess that resulted. Yes I had a fully functional, updated Anti-Virus on board. If it had not been for friends, both Linux and Windows advocates I would have been formatting and reinstalling Windows. Backing up to another computer or drive wasn't an option at the time, as is still often the situation with many end users.


Further;
It has taken all sides to push the technology to where it is today in software and hardware and its going to continue to take all sides competing “fairly” to keep technology moving forward. Any hardware or software group(s) who can not see that fact is either vary ignorant or has their heads stuck in the sand or both.


Its about time that people (EVERYONE) stopped arguing over who owns or should own the Internet / Software worlds and realize that such ideals are reserved for the anarchist and idiots of society. To think that an individual or group with the intelligence and forethought capability that it takes to write software or further the development of hardware, can't see this, its is down right scary my friends. Anyone who chooses to espouse such goals should then choose their respective title of KING, DICTATOR, etc. and expect to be finally treated as such by the masses. You can't hide your overall intentions behind “good politics or media control” forever.


“However weak, subservient or simple minded the masses be, when once they are awakened, they will always overthrow their cruel masters.” NobleHead


The costs to Microsoft or not to Microsoft or to Tux or not to Tux, Now that is the question to be answered my friends.


I recently have conducted a pricing check on the cost of setting up a small office computer system. Using the latest and best that both sides have to offer in software (Just my opinions on the credibility of what equals the latest and best). Then looked for the most efficient hardware by cost to meet those needs. $600.00 to $1,250.00 (depending on where and how you purchase) for low end computer tower, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, printer/scanner combo and monitor etc.


In considerings for the costs of operating systems with their accompanying, separately purchased or third party comparable & necessary software / maintenance utilities and office suites and I did consider some one year support offerings in the mix.


If you purchase the latest Windows Operating System and the Windows office suites along with the necessary third party Windows compatible maintenance utilities, you will spend between $600.00 and $1200.00, again depending on how and where you purchase. Keeping in mind that as you grow to more computers networked or separate, the costs for adding that software to future computers stays relatively the same for each additional computer and for most you will pay the same fee amount for each additional computer where you add the software.


The “Other Folks”


If you choose to set up a Linux/Unix software based systems and make what would be considered to be decent donations as it applies;
(If you're short of $$ at first, little or none could be understood but please consider this, Just like Microsoft, the “Linux Craftsman” deserves to receive payment or a donation just the same, even if they don't ask for anything for their creative efforts and their support for that software. Which happens to be one of the “legitimate” complaints made by the “Other-side.” At least try to pay as you go for using someone else's gray matter. You will get that warm and fuzzy feeling and shut the mouths of hundreds.).
And or you opt to make payment for one year of support with comparable / compatible office suites and utilities where needed, you could spend as little as $150.00 up to $650.00. Keeping in mind that the cost of this type system drops considerably as you add more computers to your office system because most Linux based software has a low or no cost for additional installations to networked computers.


Now that is where the basis of the arguments hits the road and begins to vary according to tastes / personal prejudices or familiarity.