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Windows Defender Beta 2

Last month, Microsoft released a major upgrade of its free anti-spyware software program. Previously known as Microsoft AntiSpyware, Microsoft has renamed the utility Windows Defender. The Beta 2 version of it is available on this Microsoft page.

Whatever you call it, this is a significant upgrade. Windows Defender offers a new detection-and-removal spyware engine, an increased number of Windows monitoring points it watches for possible spyware symptoms, a heavily streamlined user interface, fewer pop-ups from its real-time protection asking for user input, and protection for all Windows user accounts. It runs on Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP (Service Pack 2 required). Microsoft has committed to making this software freely available for download, as long as you're downloading to an authorized copy of Windows.

Whatever you call it, Windows Defender Beta 2 is a significant upgrade.

Windows Defender will also be included in Windows Vista, and first made an appearance there in the December CTP version. I wrote about that version of Windows Defender in the Desktop Pipeline story, Visual Tour: Windows Vista Begins to Get Real.

A Tale Of Two Installation
So is Windows Defender a good product? It's a tale of two installations. I first installed Windows Defender Beta 2 on a machine that previous ran both Microsoft AntiSpyware and an early pre-release version of Windows Defender Beta 2 that Microsoft sent me in advance of Beta 2's formal release. I have had no end of trouble with that installation. I did properly uninstall each previous version of the product before installing each new version. I also uninstalled Windows Defender Beta 2 twice after the initial install. But in all three attempts, the experience was the same. It would work for a while, but then serious error messages would appear, and before I uninstalled it for the last time the utility brought my computer to a crawl.

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