Microsoft dodges anti-spyware charge accusations

Microsoft dodges anti-spyware charge accusations

Summary: Microsoft has side-stepped allegations that it will charge customers to remove spyware that has infected Windows systems

TOPICS: Security

Microsoft has failed to rebut claims it is planning to charge users to remove spyware from infected versions of Windows

According to a story on CNN's Web site, the software giant's recent acquisition of anti-spyware company GIANT might mean users have to pay in order to benefit from the added security to Microsoft applications.

Microsoft will release a beta version of its anti-spyware tool within the next month. The company said it is inviting customers to install the software, which is designed to run on Windows 2000, XP, and Server 2003, and will then decide on a pricing policy.

Microsoft would not comment directly on the allegations around charging for the new anti-spyware tools, opting instead to release a general statement about distributing the software.

"Our focus now is to get a great tool into the hands of our customers as quickly as possible. The feedback we receive during the beta will help us decide how best to proceed in the future, but at this point we don’t have any firm product plans beyond the beta," the company claimed.

Microsoft's software has been widely criticised for a lack of security. To combat criticism, earlier this year Microsoft released Windows XP SP2, which it said was more secure than earlier operating systems. The company's Web browser, Internet Explorer, which was updated in SP2, has also come under fire for having a plethora of flaws.

At the beginning of 2004, Microsoft declared that its Trustworthy computing initiative would improve its approach to security. On its Web site, the company said, "Microsoft is committed to enabling every customer to work, communicate, and transact business more securely. Behind the global security mobilization announced in October 2003, we will continue toward that goal by working closely with customers, partners, and the industry."

Topic: Security

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  • Buy an anti-spyware company because they can't be bothered spending some of their $US multi billion dollar profits to make their browser more secure.

    They'll probably charge for the anti-spyware software shortly after it's released as non-Beta software and then how long until they bundle it and put the cost of Windows up to cover the cost ? their non-beta software will probably be like WIndows and IE anyway - a neverending beta test !

    Easiest solution if you want to use Windows: use Firefox + SpyBot +AdAware + high quality antirvirus program (Vet) - easy, free and much more secure and reliable than anything MS will be releasing !
  • For Microsoft to charge *anything* "extra" in order to protect it's customers from the *glaring* and *long-standing* security *defects* in MS' own technologies (today, ActiveX; but, mark my words, many-time-more-whiz-bangier WMI, too) would amount to nothing less than *extortion*.

    Serious, peer-reviewed security was *never* built into ActiveX, WMI, the Windows Desktop (shatter-attacks), etc. from DayOne... and these security mistakes/oversights/defects are deliberately and stubbornly still being upheld by MS today as legitimate "architectural" choices.

    Arguably, you can "turn-off" ActiveX (although never completely); but you can't turn off WMI/WMI scripting any more than an end-user can defend against shatter-attacks (involving maliciously crafted communications between programs running in the context of the Windows desktop).

    Slapping *external* security "solutions" on top of deep and glaring *internal* software design defects, and then charging for the use of these *tatters of bandages* is best left to non-MS ISVs. (Several of these ISVs even make their anti-SpyWare products freely available for personal, non-commercial use.)

    If MS is not going to go and truly fix what they got wrong (see above) from DayOne, they've got no business charging anyone anything extra for 11th-hour purchase and copy-catting of the anti-SpyWare ISVs as any kind of substitute for the Really Hard Work that is still not being done.
  • So Mr. Gates now feels it necessary to charge the long-suffering users of his Operating Systems for what is, at least in theory, a solution to a whole load of problems that weren't properly addressed by his software designers and developers in the first place.

    Could this extra revenue be intended for use in Microsoft's 'war on spam'? I recall that Mr. Gates promised that he would 'rid the world of spam and viruses' not so long ago, could this be the first strike?

    Or is the acquisition of this company and this latest scam, sorry, plan merely a convienient excuse to replace some of the profit that Microsoft feel compelled to redistribute to it's shareholders?

    Call me cynical, but I'd go with the latter...
  • If the anti-spyware functionality is really effective I'm not against charging. But it'll be a good incentive for those boring Windows users to switch their desktops to alternatives.