As the resolve of Microsoft strengthens against the constant band of people taking advantage of security vulnerabilities in their most popular Operating System, we see an interesting new piece of software available to download from the Microsoft website designed to tackle Spyware.

Spyware is the collective name for an almost always unwanted program that either installs itself automatically when you visit a suspect website or along with a legitimate free program as a way of financing its development. Spyware can compromise your computer in a variety of ways including collecting sensitive information from your Internet sessions, exposing you to unwanted adverts, changing your home page settings or even your Internet settings in general which is severe cases can lead to your computer dialling a premium rate number when you connect to the Internet.

Still in beta (un-finished) version, Microsoft AntiSpyware is designed to prevent such programs from compromising your computer. Of course this is no new idea as those who are regular readers to my column will testify; I have often spoke of the utility SpyBot which also aims to achieve such a task but the fact Microsoft is developing its own solution is an interesting development.

AntiSpyware not only searches for Spyware currently on your computer but it can also be set to continuously guard your computer whilst you are using it; much in the same way virus checkers do. If the program detects anything suspicious such as a webpage trying to change your Internet settings then it will stop it silently in the background. Currently 50 different avenues which developers use to get Spyware on your computer have been blocked but as Microsoft are involved in the worldwide community ‘SpyNet’ you can be sure that more preventative solutions will be added before the final release.

Whilst the Beta version is completely free of charge the website doesn’t actually state whether the finished version of this product will be free or not although I am assuming it will be. I can’t describe what a huge mistake it would be if Microsoft decided to sell the program to their users as they would essentially be charging users to fix vulnerabilities in their Operating System which shouldn’t have been there in the first place! It would be a welcome advancement in the security technology of Windows if this program were bundled with new versions of Windows bought off the shelves and also made available as a free of charge download for existing users.

One other rumour floating around is that Microsoft is working on creating their very own Virus checker to bundle with Windows and whilst this would be another welcome inclusive feature I can imagine the storm that would go out with companies such as Symantec and Mcafee heard an alternative was being given to all Windows users free of charge. Such a development would in my opinion be the start another anti-trust suit against Microsoft as happened when they choose to bundle Internet Explorer free of charge with Windows which essentially put Netscape out of business.

To download AntiSpyware head to and click the Anti Spyware link of their homepage. The download is around six and a half megabytes in size which is fairly bloated when compared with the alternatives available but this is what we have surely all come to expect? The program is designed to be run on Windows 2000 and Windows XP and those of you with these Operating Systems who don’t already have an Anti-Spyware utility should certainly waste no time in downloading it.

Finally I would like to thank one of my more enthusiastic readers, Ian MacMillian who initially pointed out this new utility to me and suggested that I cover it in Click.

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