InsideMicrosoft

part of the Blog News Channel

Four Settle Bogus Spyware Case

Four people, all of whom were accused of promoting a fake and malicious software product that claimed to protect computers from spyware, have agreed to pay fines after a lawsuit by Microsoft and the Washington State Attorney General. The software, Secure Computer’s Spyware Cleaner, was advertised on Google AdWords for search terms like “Microsoft spyware cleaner,” and “Microsoft antispyware”, but not only didn’t remove spyware as it claimed to do, it actually made computers less secure.

In most of the cases, the accused made large percentages of the $49.95 cost of a copy of Spyware Cleaner, by referring users to purchase it. Microsoft was right to be irked when it saw that Google’s advertising platform was being used to generate those referrals. However, they earn my respect in showing the intelligence and restraint to sue the advertisers, not Google.

God knows there are many at Microsoft who would love to shove a lawsuit up Google’s collective, uh, something, but those sort of lawsuits do nothing but try to take advantage of poorly knowledgeable judges. Companies like Google, who run an automated system, should not be sued as service providers, and going after the users who abuse the system for their illegal means is the way to do it.

You hear that, Geico? American Blinds?

June 8th, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, General, Google, Law, Security | no comments



Windows Live OneCare Debuts

Microsoft has released Windows Live OneCare and it is available to buy online and at retail stores. Sure it seems like a nice product, protecting you and two other computers from spam, viruses, hackers and yourself all for $49.95 a year. But what really interests me is that this weekend the Best Buy sponsored number 66 NASCAR stockcar will have OneCare logos on it this Sunday, June 4, at Dover International Speedway. Now I might finally tune in to a NASCAR race.

Via the Windows Live OneCare Team Blog

June 2nd, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Live, OneCare, Security | no comments

Hosting sponsored by GoDaddy

Microsoft Announces OneCare Pricing

Okay, as predicted, here are the details on OneCare’s public release:

  • Windows OneCare Live will arrive in June in stores or as a download, costing $49.95 for up to three computer.
  • Those who signed up for the beta (which closes on April 31), will be able to subscribe for the first year for $19.95 between April 1 and April 31.
  • OneCare will include Windows Defender for spyware protection, as well as the already included antivirus, firewall, tuneup and backup features
  • OneCare will also include tech support, available via e-mail, phone and web chat, at no additional charge

The last one is huge. We’re talking about Microsoft offering PC technical support at a decent price. By itself, that is worth more than the cost of a OneCare subscription, based on what MS normally charges. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from a 20 dollar first year of OneCare. Sign up, peoples!

February 7th, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Defender, General, OneCare, Security | no comments

Symantec Announces Security As A Service

Security company Symantec has unveiled plans for a security service that will offer protection against spyware, phishing, spam and viruses, as well as backup and optimization technology. Code-named “Genesis”, it will be sold on a subscription basis as a hosted service.

The service is clearly designed to head off Windows OneCare, which should be nearing feature complete at the same time (assuming Microsoft wants it ready for Vista), as well as Windows Defender and Internet Explorer’s Phishing Filter. It will be a single integrated system designed for security, optimization and backup, the three cornerstones of OneCare, and will likely launch in September, one or two months prior to Vista.

CNET reports:

The software, code-named Genesis, will integrate components of Symantec’s current security, PC optimisation and backup products, the security company said. It will be sold on a subscription basis and will require an initial one-year agreement. Pricing has not yet been determined.

… Online shoppers will be able to use Genesis to securely store personal information such as credit card numbers, Symantec said. They can also use it to authenticate Web sites, the company said.

The technology in Genesis comes from current Symantec products such as Norton Internet Security and SystemWorks, as well as from work by Whole Security, the anti-phishing specialist Symantec acquired in September of last year, Powledge said.

Microsoft’s security offerings, made necessary due to the porous state of computer security in 2003-2004 that gave the company such bad press, present a huge challenge to the other computer security firms. They may not be able to hold off Microsoft’s products, and Microsoft is divorcing OneCare enough from Windows itself to avoid antitrust accusations.

If the security firms had made it their mission to secure every single Windows computer, rather than market to businesses and the security conscious home user, none of this would have happened, and they wouldn’t be dealing with the Redmond giant breathing down their necks. If you can’t do your job well, someone else will take it from you.

February 3rd, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Defender, General, OneCare, Security | no comments

links for 2006-01-28 (With More Search Champs Links)

January 28th, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Blogs, Bookmarks, General, Live, MSN, Security, Spaces, Windows, Xbox | no comments

So, What Can’t I Live Without?

Another post written in the past: Last week, I had to reformat my Dell laptop, since the crappy hard drive died on me. So, what programs absolutely had to be installed on the fresh system?

  • Microsoft Office 2003 and OneNote 2003
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Opera (browser of choice)
  • Microsoft AntiSpyware
  • Windows OneCare Live
  • Nero suite (for burning and recoding disks)
  • SmartFTP
  • DVD Decrypter (for “backups”)
  • ISOBuster
  • AIM Triton
  • Windows Live Messenger Beta
  • Google Talk
  • uTorrent
  • Handset Manager (for my cell phone)
  • Microsoft Calculator Plus
  • Baseball Mogul 2006
  • Football Mogul 2006
  • The Movies
  • Quicktime 7 Pro (so I can save movies and watch them offline and full-screen later)
  • Portable Media Center drivers
  • Yahoo Music Engine (for my DRM music)
  • Sound Blaster Live 24-bit External drivers
  • Semagic (which I discovered can recreate copy and pasted HTML code better than anything else)
  • WinRAR
  • GetDataBack for NTFS (since hard drives always fail)
  • Mount VD
  • Plaxo
  • I8kfanGUI (allows me to control the poorly-set Dell laptop fans)

Stuff I’ll probably eventually reinstall:

  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer 7 beta 1
  • WindowsBlinds
  • Cursor XP
  • WinAMP
  • Windows Media Bonus Pack
  • Sphere XP
  • An outdated, but less-bloated version of RealPlayer
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Office 12 beta

God, I hope I didn’t forget anything. What should I have, that I don’t use?

January 9th, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Applications, Firefox, General, Internet Explorer, Live, Messenger, Office, OneNote, Security, Windows, Yahoo | 7 comments



Perspectives: January 9

perspectivesI’ve decided to start a new series on this blog, which I’m calling Perspectives. I realize that I end a lot of posts with “we’ll see where this goes”, but we never get to see, since I’m not going to repeat the same stuff every day until a conclusion is reached. Blogs tend to be so obsessed with the “now”, that we never pay attention to what’s happened in the past, and we forget things that might be important. So, every day, unless I’m way too busy (or not around), I’ll post about whatever I was discussing a year ago, and, as time goes by, two years ago, and so on.

On January 9, 2005, Microsoft AntiSpyware had beaten Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware in a face-off. I wouldn’t be surprised if AntiSpyware still beats all comers, what with Microsoft money behind it. I haven’t had any antispyware program but Microsoft’s installed since the summer, and I don’t miss the others; sometimes I forget they even exist. Does anyone who runs AntiSpyware believe they actually need the others anymore?

This has been “Perspectives”, I’m Lionel Osbourne.

January 9th, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, General, Perspectives, Security | no comments

Perspectives: January 8

perspectivesI’ve decided to start a new series on this blog, which I’m calling Perspectives. I realize that I end a lot of posts with “we’ll see where this goes”, but we never get to see, since I’m not going to repeat the same stuff every day until a conclusion is reached. Blogs tend to be so obsessed with the “now”, that we never pay attention to what’s happened in the past, and we forget things that might be important. So, every day, unless I’m way too busy (or not around), I’ll post about whatever I was discussing a year ago, and, as time goes by, two years ago, and so on.

On January 8, 2005, there was some discussion as to whether Microsoft AntiSpyware was a play at establishing a monopoly and dominance in another industry. I actually used the word “daft” to describe my feelings, and I still feel the same way. Microsoft is in a position that, if it does nothing, Windows users will suffer and Windows’ reputation will increasingly suffer, as security vulnerabilities mount. Microsoft needed to create Windows Defender (nee’ AntiSpyware) and Windows OneCare Live to protect its operating system monopoly, its web browser monopoly, and its public relations, not to defeat Norton or McAfee.

Did you know that the recent WMF vulnerability, that affected nearly every version of Windows, did not affect OneCare users? In the future, Microsoft can partly defuse criticism and bad situations and point to OneCare and say, “Well, your fault for not using it”.

Also, development continued on MSN Search. It almost seems like the search engine has stalled since it was announced it would become Windows Live Search (the last search engine related post on the MSN Search blog was in October). I’m hoping they’re hiding something big for the Windows Live switchover, otherwise they don’t have the buzz to gain on Google.

Finally, Devin had an interview with Scoble. BusinessBits is now over a year old, and I must admit I’m pleasantly surprised it turned out to be so successful. Devin has been doing a great job, and if you haven’t checked it out, you should. Especially since I’m future-posting this from the past, so you might as well read some new material!

UPDATE: Wow, when I wrote this a week ago, there was still a BusinessBits. Devin has moved onto finer pastures, after getting his sea legs (and a lot of traffic) right here. If someone is interested in doing some business blogging, this is your chance to inherit a very well-trafficked blog. Send me your information, including your qualifications.

This has been “Perspectives”, I’m Lionel Osbourne.

January 8th, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, General, MSN, Perspectives, Search, Security | one comment

Perspectives: January 4

perspectivesI’ve decided to start a new series on this blog, which I’m calling Perspectives. I realize that I end a lot of posts with “we’ll see where this goes”, but we never get to see, since I’m not going to repeat the same stuff every day until a conclusion is reached. Blogs tend to be so obsessed with the “now”, that we never pay attention to what’s happened in the past, and we forget things that might be important. So, every day, unless I’m way too busy (or not around), I’ll post about whatever I was discussing a year ago, and, as time goes by, two years ago, and so on.

On January 4, 2005, it was all about a bunch of applications Microsoft was developing.

One, MSN Desktop Search, was a huge deal then. Now? Well I haven’t mentioned it in maybe half a year. In late 2004, everyone thought desktop search was the future of computing, that a program like Google Desktop Search would be the most important thing on your desktop, and we were completely wrong. Desktop search has yet to catch on significantly beyond early adopters, and many have realized it is not the be-all-end-all but an operating system feature, and one seldom used enough that we could wait for Vista to get it. Besides, antivirus programs were already slowing down our systems; we didn’t need another massive, memory-intensive program.

On the antivirus and antispyware front, Microsoft was fast developing Microsoft AntiSpyware (now Windows Defender) and A1 (now Windows OneCare Live). I don’t think anyone expected that AntiSpyware and OneCare would be as good as they were when they dropped not long ago. Microsoft is building the rare security suite that doesn’t bloat and ruin your computing experience. When these products release in their final versions, I think the Windows user community will be quite pleased.

Finally, Microsoft was recruiting for AdCenter. Conceptually, AdCenter seems interesting, but we’ll have to wait and see if it is good enough to hurt Google.

This has been “Perspectives”, I’m Lionel Osbourne.

January 4th, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Desktop Search, General, Google, MSN, Perspectives, Search, Security | one comment

Perspectives: January 2

perspectivesI’ve decided to start a new series on this blog, which I’m calling Perspectives. I realize that I end a lot of posts with “we’ll see where this goes”, but we never get to see, since I’m not going to repeat the same stuff every day until a conclusion is reached. Blogs tend to be so obsessed with the “now”, that we never pay attention to what’s happened in the past, and we forget things that might be important. So, every day, unless I’m way too busy (or not around), I’ll post about whatever I was discussing a year ago, and, as time goes by, two years ago, and so on.

On January 2, 2005, besides a flame war between Microsoft and Google employees (which I discuss at InsideGoogle today and I think Google is winning), there was also the fact that Microsoft was promoting on its spyware homepage competitors from a product it was about to release, Microsoft AntiSpyware.

A year later, not only is AntiSpyware a major success embaressing those competitors, but they’ve been removed from the homepage, relegated to low placement on a downloads page, while AntiSpyware is linked prominently all over Microsoft.com. AntiSpyware, which will soon be renamed Windows Defender, has been joined by the equally excellent Windows OneCare, to begin the long trek towards fixing Microsoft’s imageof being poor on security.

This has been “Perspectives”, I’m Lionel Osbourne.

January 2nd, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, General, Google, Perspectives, Security | no comments

Perspectives: January 1

perspectivesI’ve decided to start a new series on this blog, which I’m calling Perspectives. I realize that I end a lot of posts with “we’ll see where this goes”, but we never get to see, since I’m not going to repeat the same stuff every day until a conclusion is reached. Blogs tend to be so obsessed with the “now”, that we never pay attention to what’s happened in the past, and we forget things that might be important. So, every day, unless I’m way too busy (or not around), I’ll post about whatever I was discussing a year ago, and, as time goes by, two years ago, and so on.

On January 1, 2005, I gave a list of predictions for Microsoft, things I thought would be big in 2005.

I thought MSN would have a big year, largely because it finished big in 2004. I was wrong. While MSN Spaces murdered Blogspot, few other MSN services did anything. It seems that, with MSN one of the largest portals on the net, Microsoft didn’t want to mess with it, and is saving the good stuff for Windows Live, which will have the innovative products I thought would be big in 2005. MSN Virtual Earth was released, but it is now Windows Live Local, and was an otherwise bright spot in a lackluster year.

I was right on about security being a big deal. Microsoft, in Windows OneCare and AntiSpyware (soon to be Windows Defender), has released products effective enough that many users would pay for it, although they’ve been free betas so far.

No one could have predicted the Xbox would have as big a year as it did. Microsoft marketed and produced a world class console launch. Its a shame no one could buy it, and no one is stupid enough to say Microsoft already won, but they did a great job in 2005.

Internet Explorer is finally getting interesting. MS surprised me with IE7, and although they have yet to deliver a beta that measures up to Firefox, the final XP version, and better yet, the XP version, look to be major upgrades. I’m still 50/50 on whether they’ll pull it off, but they’re trying, and doing quality work.

Windows was slow this year, MCE was really big, and MCE can be bought in stores. So I was completely right. I even bought an MCE box, and I’d never go back (and never get a Mac without media center capabilities). Microsoft also excited with Vista betas, and the Office 12 beta I’m currently running has the best interface I’ve ever used.

All in all Microsoft did a great job hyping 2006 in 2005, while delivering nothing, or next to nothing. Lets see what happens now that they have to show results.

This has been “Perspectives”, I’m Lionel Osbourne.

January 1st, 2006 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Applications, General, Internet Explorer, Live, Local, Media Center, MSN, Office, Perspectives, Security, Spaces, Virtual Earth, Vista, Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, XP | one comment



links for 2005-11-19

November 19th, 2005 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Bookmarks, General, Security, Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Microsoft To Defend Against Sony Rootkit

A lot of people have been complaining about Sony’s evil rootkit that infects your PC when you insert certain Sony music CDs. Well, Microsoft has announced that its security software will find and remove the malicious software. The Anti-Malware Team says that both Windows Defender (the new version of AntiSpyware) and the Malicious Software Removal tool (which is delivered free every month with Windows Update) will seek and destroy Sony’s awful invasive code. Additionally, Windows AntiSpyware has already been updated with the detection routines, and soon, the free online Windows Live Safety Center will be able to do it as well. Good work Microsoft!
(via Ed Bott > Findory)

November 13th, 2005 Posted by | AntiSpyware, General, Security | no comments

links for 2005-11-09

November 9th, 2005 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Corporate, General, MSN, Security, Virtual Earth, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

AntiSpyware To Be “Windows Defender”

Microsoft will name its AntiSpyware product, currently in very successful beta, as Windows Defender, reports Marc Orchant. Additionally, Microsoft has confirmed the final product will have versions for both Vista and XP.

The anti-malware team explains how the change happened:

Making the engineering change from “Windows AntiSpyware” to “Windows Defender” took a lot of careful coordination across our team to ensure that the strings in the UI got changed, the help files all got updated, registry keys, file names and properties, as well as a couple of images all got changed.

Wow! How exciting.

*clonk*

Oops. Sorry. I fell asleep and tipped over. There’s nothing less exciting than careful coordination to retype the name of a product.

Still, I think the new name is much better.

November 7th, 2005 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Defender, General, Security | no comments

Microsoft Beta / Release Dates

Bink lists the current major rumored Microsoft beta / release dates.

  • Vista beta 2 – 12/16/2005
  • Vista RTM (Release To Manufacturing) – 7/25/2006
  • Office 12 Beta 1 – within a few weeks
  • AntiSpyware beta 2 – late November 2005

October 24th, 2005 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Applications, General, Office, Security, Vista, Windows | 4 comments

New Features In Latest Vista CTP

Silicon.com details some of the additions to the latest released build of Windows Vista.

  • improved printing from within Internet Explorer 7
  • a new Mobility Center (groups together a host of laptop options, including new power management settings)
  • a “Network Center”, that acts as a central spot for managing network connections, replacing the “My Network Places” and “Network Neighbourhood” from Windows XP
  • tools for authoring and digitally signing documents in the new XML Paper Specification (XPS) format, code-named Metro
  • an early version of Windows Media Player 11
  • new network and PC diagnostic tools that can, for example, detect when a disk is likely to fail, warn users and prompt them with ways to back up their data

Features still to come:

(via Channel 9)

PC Mag has a tour of Vista 5231 including an overview of Vista’s new search capabilities.
(via Mary Jo Foley)



October 20th, 2005 Posted by | AntiSpyware, Applications, General, Internet Explorer, Media Player, Security, Vista, Windows | no comments

Windows OneCare Beta First Impressions

Today, I got into the beta for Windows OneCare, Microsoft’s security suite. Thus far, it seems like a good program, but I have no way of knowing how secure I am unless something bad happens.

OneCare is made up of several programs, all of which run seamlessly in a single simple interface. I’ve been using Norton’s suite lately, and OneCare’s central controls are far simpler. In Norton, I’d have buttons that were unclear as to their functionality, while other critical functions were buried deep within the program. OneCare does a much better job organizing things, and there are “What does this do?” links all over the place.

OneCare has antivirus, firewall, antispyware (not present in Beta 1), backup and restore, tune-up, defragmenter and clean-up functions. Doing anything with one portion of the suite typically runs more than one process, which makes the whole thing work together excellently. For example, running Tune-up triggers an antivirus scan, a backup scan (to determine what files need backing up), defragments the drive and removes unnecessary files (like temp files).

OneCare’s status bar logo, a silly “1″ written in an askew oval, changes color based on your level of protection. If you haven’t backed up lately or scanned, or aren’t running active protection, it changes from green to yellow to red, (although I haven’t gotten that bad). It describes Green status as “Good”, yellow as “Fair” and red as “At Risk”.

Speed is not great, but it never is with these programs. A full Tune-up ran well over an hour. Tune-Up can delete unnecessary files, like temporary files, program installation files, ActiveX controls and Java applets, Microsoft Error Reporting files and Office setup files.

The Backup scan is quite cool. It scans your hard disk and tries to determine which files need backing up. In my case it found 1.8 gigabytes, consisting of music, pictures, Microsoft and Adobe documents (those from popular document programs get their own category), Outlook files, the remaining contents of My Computer and My Documents and IE favorites.

Following the scan, you can add any files (like saved games) that were missed. Then, you insert your blank CD or DVD and enjoy the knowledge that, after a compression and burn process, your data is safe.

All in all, as long as my system remains safe, I’ll be happy. If OneCare lets something get through that Norton detects, I’ll let you know.

August 24th, 2005 Posted by | AntiSpyware, General, Security | no comments