Thursday, November 10, 2005

Windows AntiSpyware gets a name change and then some

I saw this last week somewhere, but Ed Bott tells us a lot more about what’s going to happen with Windows AntiSpyware.  I’ve been using the beta of this for quite some time and it never comes up with anything.  For a while I also used it in conjunction with Spybot Search & Destroy, but it never came up with anything either (caveat: The internet service I use, though city wide, is behind a big, private network).  Anyway, Windows Defender (the new name for the product) will automatically download updates through Windows Update.  That will save some headaches in trying to keep all your stuff up to date.

In case you’ve been wondering why Windows AntiSpyware has been in beta for what seems like two years (it’s actually been only 10 months), Microsoft’s Steve Dodson spills the beans. Three pieces of news:

The new name is Windows Defender.

It will be integrated into Windows Vista. Steve explains:

You will be able to run another spyware product instead of Windows Defender if you would like. Although I may shed a small tear, you will be able to disable or turn off Windows Defender and install whichever 3rd party anti-spyware application you would like. The really cool thing is that the Windows Security Center in Vista will be redesigned to detect if an Anti-Spyware application such as Windows Defender is running and operating normally.

And it will soon receive signature updates via Automatic Updates rather than through a separate update engine.

More details in a somewhat breathless post at the Anti-Malware Engineering Team blog:

Windows Defender is about what Windows will do for customers, defending them from spyware and other unwanted software. Our solution has really been about more than just the standard definition of “spyware”. We’ve always said we will provide visibility and control, as well as protection, detection and removal from other potentially unwanted software, including rootkits, keystroke loggers and more.

Making the engineering change from “Windows AntiSpyware” to “Windows Defender” took a lot of careful coordination across our team to ensure that the strings in the UI got changed, the help files all got updated, registry keys, file names and properties, as well as a couple of images all got changed. All this work was completed and tested last Thursday, and is currently making its way through our build systems in Windows to make it into the main build environment, where official builds come from. We’re pretty excited by the name, and by the sleek new UI and other improvements we’ve been making in it to help make Windows Vista the best operating system around! But Windows Defender is about a lot more than just a name change. The engine is now moved to a system service, and signatures are delivered over Windows Update. The detection mechanisms have also been radically improved by applying to spyware threats all the great detection technology we use in our antivirus engine.

Also see this follow-up story.

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