A couple of Microsoft bloggers have quietly announced some big changes today. Windows AntiSpyware will be no more. The new name is Windows Defender and it will be integrated into the new operating system Windows Vista. Jason Garms of the anti-malware team writes:
Every week seems like a big week for us in the engineering team working on our anti-malware technology. However, last week was especially important in a sentimental way. We got the final name for the cool technology our team has been developing for Windows. The name, after long consideration by our product marketing and branding folks, is "Windows Defender"! What's really cool about this name is that it’s more positive than "Windows AntiSpyware". Windows Defender is about what Windows will do for customers, defending them from spyware and other unwanted software. Our solution has really been about more than just the standard definition of "spyware". We’ve always said we will provide visibility and control, as well as protection, detection and removal from other potentially unwanted software, including rootkits, keystroke loggers and more.
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. All this work was completed and tested last Thursday, and is currently making its way through our build systems in Windows to make it into the main build environment, where official builds come from. We're pretty excited by the name, and by the sleek new UI and other improvements we've been making in it to help make Windows Vista the best operating system around! But Windows Defender is about a lot more than just a name change. The engine is now moved to a system service, and signatures are delivered over Windows Update. The detection mechanisms have also been radically improved by applying to spyware threats all the great detection technology we use in our antivirus engine.
Steve Dodson blogged essentialy the same information. Windows Defender will have a new look and the definition updates will come through Windows Update. It sounds like Windows Defender will be available in the relatively near future, much sooner than Vista, but no date was given. I haven't seen anything in the mainstream press about this yet, or heard of an official announcement from Microsoft but I will be following the story.
Thanks to some fellow MVPs for the links.