Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta1

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Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta1

Bottom Line

A welcome addition, but don't trash your existing tools yet.

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In addition to spyware and adware detection and removal, Microsoft AntiSpyware includes a variety of security and privacy tools, such as one that alerts you if someone tries to piggy­back bandwidth off your wireless network. The free 6.4MB beta works with Win­dows XP, 2000 and Server 2003. It has an intuitive interface broken down into three main tabs: Scanning, Real-Time Protection, and Advanced Tools, with privacy and security features.

We were able to identify the same three spyware threats that veteran spyware detectors Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware found (although the latter scanned the fastest). Once threats are identified, you receive detailed information including threat location, risk rating and recommended course of action. You can also schedule regular scans complete with automatic deletion or quarantining.

Microsoft relies on the SpyNet com­munity network (a user network sharing related and up-to-date threat details) for spyware and adware signature updates.

A host of Real-Time Protection tab tools help you defend often targeted key system processes, applications, and Inter­net features. Spam Zombie Prevention makes sure your PC isn't turned into a spam-spewing machine and Winsock Layer Service Provider assures you that spyware isn't monitoring/recording network traffic. You can also watch over programs set to start automatically when Windows loads, and stop your Explorer browser toolbar, bookmarks or Start page being changed.

The Advanced Features tab offers three Microsoft-centric tools: Browser Hijack Restore (only supporting Internet Explorer), System Explorer, and Tracks Erase. Sceptics will find plenty to criticise, but Microsoft is headed in the right direction. We just hope it remains free.

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