HelpWithWindows Newsletter
 18 December 2004, Vol 7 No. 44

In this issue:

w   Microsoft Acquires Anti-Spyware Leader GIANT Company
w   Happy Holidays!
w   Microsoft Security Bulletin
w   Microsoft Introduces MSN Toolbar Suite Beta
w   Recent Support BBS Postings
w   Administrivia


Microsoft Acquires Anti-Spyware Leader GIANT

by Arie Slob

Hello Windows users,

Last Thursday, Microsoft announced that it has acquired GIANT Company Software Inc., a provider of top-rated anti-spyware and Internet security products. Microsoft will use intellectual property and technology assets from the acquisition to provide Microsoft® Windows® customers with new tools to help protect them from the threat of spyware and other deceptive software. In addition, key personnel from GIANT Company will be joining Microsoft's security efforts.

Spyware is an emerging breed of malicious software that can range from unwanted pop-up ads to unseen programs that record keystrokes or take over a person's PC. Spyware and other unwanted software can slow PC performance, change a computer's configuration, and steal passwords and personal information. A November 2004 IDC study estimated that 67 percent of consumer PCs are infected with some form of spyware.

"Spyware is a serious and growing problem for PC users, and customers have made it clear that they want Microsoft to deliver effective solutions to protect against the threat," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the Security Business and Technology Unit at Microsoft. "Through this acquisition we're excited to be able to provide near-term relief to Windows customers by offering new technology to help keep spyware and other deceptive software off their PCs."

It was long expected that Microsoft would get serious on the Anti-Spyware front, as many problems computer users attribute to their Operating System (slow responses, crashes) can be tracked back to Spyware installed without the users knowledge on these systems.

Microsoft plans to make available to Windows customers a beta version of a spyware protection, detection and removal tool, based on the GIANT AntiSpyware product, within one month. The upcoming beta will scan a customer's PC to locate spyware and other deceptive software threats and enable customers to remove them. The tool will be configurable to block known spyware and other unwanted software from being installed on the computer. It will be available for Microsoft Windows 2000 and later versions.

Terms of the acquisition were not announced. Details of the Microsoft solution beyond the planned beta, including product plans, pricing and a timeline for delivery, are not yet available. The anti-spyware technology will complement the enhanced security features available in Windows XP Service Pack 2 to provide a higher level of protection for Web browsing and other Internet computing activities. Microsoft strongly recommends that customers use an anti-spyware solution in addition to following the three simple steps outlined at Microsoft's Protect Your PC Web site: Use an Internet firewall on all PCs, update all PCs regularly with the latest security updates, and use up-to-date antivirus software.

If you need help fighting Spyware, we have a section devoted to computer security, viruses and Spyware on our Support forum.

Give your comments on this article.

Happy Holidays!

This is the last issue of the HelpWithWindows Newsletter for this year. Most of you will celebrate the comming Christmas holiday, so from myself and the entire InfiniSource team I want to wish you & your loved ones happy Holidays and all the best for 2005!

The Newsletter will return to your mailbox with the January 10 issue.

Microsoft Security

Microsoft Windows Security Bulletin Summary for December, 2004

The Microsoft Windows security update for December 2004 addresses six newly discovered issues in Windows.

Severity Rating: Critical

Severity Rating: Important

Microsoft Introduces MSN Toolbar Suite Beta

MSN Last Monday, Microsoft introduced a beta version of its new MSN® Toolbar Suite, with breakthrough desktop search functionality that helps consumers quickly find virtually any type of document, media file or e-mail message on their Windows®-based personal computer.

"With MSN Toolbar Suite, consumers can now search their desktops from within the popular applications on their PCs," said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president for the MSN Information Services and Merchant Platform division at Microsoft. "By delivering fast, precise answers with familiar technology, Microsoft is taking desktop information discovery to a new level."

From any of the MSN Toolbar Suite tools, consumers can conveniently manage the vast amount of digital information available on their PC by quickly searching it in one easy step. These applications provide the following benefits:

  • Quick, precise retrieval of desktop files. Consumers can quickly and easily search the thousands of files on their PCs, including Outlook Contacts or Calendar files, Adobe PDFs files, or Microsoft Office Word or PowerPoint® files. As a result, consumers will save time and increase their productivity.
  • Information when and where it's needed. The MSN toolbars save time, allowing consumers to find precisely what they need with less effort, when and where they need it, with less effort and within seconds. The MSN toolbars are conveniently designed to work with Outlook, Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer and the Windows desktop. The MSN Toolbars also give consumers quick access to MSN Messenger, MSN Hotmail® and MSN Spaces, enabling them to initiate common communication tasks right from the bar, including e-mail, instant messaging and inserting URLs into Spaces blogs.
  • Familiar interfaces and useful results. Consumers can use desktop search when browsing files in Windows in a comfortable and familiar format, enabling them to open files in their associated application directly from their desktop search results and enabling quick access to actions such as managing, sharing, deleting or playing files.
  • New MSN Search service. MSN Toolbar Suite displays Web search results from the recently launched MSN Search Beta release,* a new algorithmic search engine built by Microsoft and designed to help consumers find precisely the information they are looking for by providing more useful answers to their questions and more control over their search experience.

The MSN Toolbar Suite is currently available as a beta release and can be downloaded from the MSN Web site. The final version of the MSN Toolbar Suite is expected in the first quarter of 2005.

System Requirements

  • Microsoft Windows XP operating system or Windows 2000 SP4
  • Minimum 128MB of RAM (256MB recommended)
  • 500MB of hard disk space recommended. Your index size depends on how much content you have on your hard drive.
  • Microsoft Outlook 2000+ or Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0+ to index and search your email.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 or later must be installed, though it does not need to be your default browser.
  • Pop-up Blocker requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later.

I hope to post a review on the MSN Toolbar Suite in the near future.

Give your comments on this article.

Recent Support BBS Postings

To SP or Not to SP, That is the Question - Windows XP
Cable or DSL High Speed - General Discussions
Completely Protecting My Computer - Security/Virus/Spyware
Digital Camera For Christmas - Hardware


Critical Update for Windows XP (KB886185)

This update helps narrow the definition of the My network, or local subnet, restriction option in the Windows Firewall. If you use a dial-up connection to connect to the Internet, you may discover that your computer can be accessed by anyone on the Internet because of the way that some dialing software configures routing tables.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP Service Pack 2 (including MCE & Tablet PC)

Download [385 KB - Eng]
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Microsoft Releases Cumulative Update for Outlook Express 6 Service Pack 1

This week, Microsoft released an update that corrects some problems in Microsoft Outlook Express for Windows.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000 SP3 & SP4, Windows XP SP1

Read Full Article

Windows XP: Christmas Theme 2004

Microsoft posted a Christmas desktop theme with new wallpaper, animated cursors, new icons, new sounds, and a 3D screensaver for download for Windows XP users.

System Requirements: Windows XP, CPU > 1.2 GHz, DirectX 9.0c compatible VGA card

Download [11.4 MB - Eng]
Download [11.4 MB - Ger]

Click here

Exchange Server 2003 Security Hardening Guide

The download package for this guide includes important security templates. These templates were updated November 2004. This guide walks you through the process of hardening your Exchange 2003 environment, including configuration recommendations and strategies for combating external threats.

You can choose to read the entire Exchange Server 2003 Security Hardening Guide online, but best is to download [1.17 MB - Eng] the guide instead.

Other Languages are available from the Microsoft Download Site.

Word Viewer 2003

Word Viewer 2003 lets you open Word 2003 documents and documents created with all previous versions of Microsoft Word for Windows® and Microsoft Word for Macintosh. This download is a replacement for Word 97 Viewer and and all previous Word Viewer versions.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000 SP3 & SP4, Windows XP

Download [11.7 MB - Eng]
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