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Networking This Week: Microsoft To Become World's Biggest Spyware Vendor?

Given the news this week, No one will ever accuse Microsoft of consistency. The world's biggest software maker has been beating the drum publicly for years about how it wants to make your computer safe and secure against intruders. And this year, it targeted spyware, bought a very good anti-spyware tool, released a free beta of it, and said it would keep it free forever.

Then this week the New York Times revealed that the company was in negotiations to buy Claria, a much-reviled maker of adware, for an eye-popping $500 million. The report said that Microsoft is pursuing Claria as a way to catch up with the advertising prowess of Google. Claria has been criticized by privacy groups because of the way its software tracks user habits and delivers pop-up ads. It has been sued by a number of companies for the practices, including the New York Times.

If the deal comes to pass, can we expect Microsoft Windows Anti-Spyware to ignore Claria and let it stay on people's systems? Can we expect anyone to ever trust that Microsoft truly wants to fight spyware if it becomes the world's biggest purveyor of what some call spyware?

Who knows? It's just one more example of the adage, "Money talks."

There was more news about Microsoft this week. The company announced an initiative to promote the development of new solutions and services by its telecommunications service provider partners. Microsoft hopes that the program will create synergy between itself and network equipment providers, independent software providers, carriers and systems integrators.

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