Microsoft Releases Windows Defender (Beta 2)
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Windows Defender is the new name for Windows AntiSpyware. According to Microsoft, Beta 2 of Windows Defender includes several enhancements over Windows AntiSpyware Beta 1:
- Improved detection and removal. Windows Defender (Beta 2) can detect and remove more threats posed by spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Real-Time Protection, which helps prevent unwanted software from being installed, is enhanced to better monitor key points in the operating system for changes.
- Redesigned and simplified user interface. The new user interface has been redesigned to make it easer to scan your computer and remove unwanted files. It also delivers a warning system that alerts you to the severity of a threat and makes appropriate recommendations to help secure your computer.
- Protection features for all users. Windows Defender (Beta 2) can now be run by all the users who use a particular computer, whether they have administrator-level privileges or not.
- Definition updates delivered through Automatic Updates. Windows Defender (Beta 2) now receives updates through Automatic Updates that are provided by Microsoft analysts at no additional cost.
- Voting network statistics. When Windows Defender (Beta 2) detects potentially unwanted software, it shows you how customers who participate in the opt-in network voted to classify the software.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later
- Pentium 233 MHz or higher processor (Pentium III recommended) with at least 64 MB of RAM (128 MB RAM recommended)
- Microsoft Windows 2000 (SP4 or later), Windows XP (SP2 or later), or Windows Server 2003 (SP1 or later)
- At least 20 MB of available hard disk space
More information can be found by visiting the Microsoft Security at Home Web site, or by reading the Windows Defender (Beta 2) FAQ.
This is pre-release (beta) software distributed for feedback and testing purposes. Microsoft does not provide technical support for beta releases. If Windows Defender (Beta 2) is causing an issue with your system, Microsoft recommends removing it by using Add or Remove Programs and even using System Restore if the problem persists.
You can install Windows Defender 'on top' of Windows AntiSpyware, the Windows Defender install will remove Windows AntiSpyware.
While Windows Defender's precursor Windows AntiSpyware (formerly Giant AntiSpyware) was a great product, it suffered a number of (mainly technical) shortcomings, some of them quite serious.
One of the more important problems that Microsoft wanted to address was that Windows AntiSpyware was a 'normal' Windows application, meaning it was incapable of being run as a service. The drawback to this is that it required Administrator-level access to be run. This has now been fixed in Windows Defender.
Microsoft also designed a 64-bit version, since 32-bit will be on the way out in the next few years.
Using Windows Defender
When you've used Windows AntiSpyware in the past, you'll notice that Windows Defender no longer displays an icon in the system tray. Microsoft also reduced the number of pop-ups Windows Defender will show to a user, choosing to make it a more user friendly product. Windows Defender will run in the background and automatically handle spyware based on the preferences you have set in the program.
If you need to access Windows Defender (for example you want to run a manual scan, or change some settings), you can access the program from the "All Programs" menu, or click the new Control Panel icon "Software Explorers", which opens Windows Defender with the tool option "Software Explorer" running.
Windows Defender's "Software Explorer" allow you to view detailed information about software that is currently running on your computer. For example, you can see which programs will automatically run when you start Windows and information about how these programs interact with important Windows programs and services. It also allows you to see currently running programs, whether they are running onscreen or in the background. Software Explorer also provides information on Network-connected programs and Winsock service providers (programs that perform low-level networking and communication services for Windows and/or programs).
According to Microsoft, Windows Defender (Beta 2), subsequent beta versions, and the final release version will each be available at no additional charge for currently licensed Windows customers.
If you need help fighting Spyware, we have a section devoted to computer security, viruses and Spyware on our WindowsBBS.com Support forum.
Microsoft Windows Security Bulletin Summary for February, 2006
The security update for February 2006 includes a total of five fixes for Microsoft Windows and one for Internet Explorer.
Severity Rating: Critical
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