The Windows Defender

Tips & Hints

20 February 2006


In the ongoing fight against spyware, Microsoft have released a new version of their anti-spyware product. While it appears to be an improvement, there are quite a few changes. Because of these changes, we advise waiting some time before installing it on your system.


The update has been revamped and renamed Windows Defender. It has a very different look and feel to the older Microsoft AntiSpyware and a number of features have been changed. The main changes seem to be aimed at making the program more user friendly.


While being friendly to users is a good thing, it is possible Windows Defender has gone a bit too far. The pop-up warnings on the older spyware program were irritating and sometimes confusing but did let you know when things were happening to your system that could be spyware or virus related. We’re not sure if the new program will make assumptions that might not be correct.


On our test machines, the program has worked well and picked up some potential spyware (actually tools we use for virus testing and remote access). But our techs have seen problems this week and the Washington Post reports Norton AntiVirus is damaged by it. As a consequence we recommend you do not install it at this stage.



Beta Software


Windows Defender, like MS Antispyware, is a beta program, which means it is still being tested. Generally we don’t recommend running Beta software on home and business machines, we made an exception for the MS Antispyware beta because it was little more than a re-badged version of the Giant AntiSpyware product. The Windows Defender is a much different beast and so our general rule of not running betas on production machines applies.


Initially it appears to be a good product, however we feel it’s probably best to leave it for a few weeks until we get a better feel for it’s stability. We should note that no program is the complete solution to avoiding spyware and viruses. Defender, the Microsoft Anti spyware and all the other software and tactics we recommend for avoiding spyware are only part of a bigger picture.
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