No Giant leap

Damned if it does, damned if it does not. So Microsoft decides it is time to open the corporate chequebook, and buys a tool from Giant Software that can remove all sorts of nasty browserware infections and trojan programs from your computer.

No Giant leap

Some of us had taken the view that this was a fairly monumental piece of door locking after the horse had bolted. Indeed, not just the stablemen, but it seemed that the straw had been taken, all the food had been eaten, and that someone had daubed graffiti all over the walls.

I downloaded the first release of the new Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) – for the full review see p100. As only a few weeks had passed since the acquisition from Giant Software, I wasn’t expecting a great deal, to be honest. It appears that all that’s happened is that Microsoft has slapped its brand across the top. Oh, and taken away features from the original version – the Giant Software version supported Windows all the way back to 98 SE. Not so with the Microsoft version: ‘The Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) software supports only Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003.’

So that’s alright. Microsoft does not give a damn about spyware on 98 SE, ME or NT customers. And, naturally, it is going to stop its newly acquired product from supporting it too, despite it apparently doing this job rather well. Gives you a really comfortable warm feeling, does not it?

I could spit some bricks about the sycophantic posturing that gushes forth at www.microsoft.com/ athome/security/ spyware/default.mspx, especially the sections titled, ‘Are your kids exposing you to spyware?’ and ‘Help keep your kids from downloading spyware’. I particularly loved this sentence: ‘The key to helping prevent the installation of spyware is to download programs only from sources you trust and to read all security warnings, licence or user agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download or install on your computer.’

Well yes, naturally, Microsoft’s EULAs (End-User License Agreements) are the paragon of clarity. And Microsoft has never, ever introduced new licence terms buried away at the bottom of an EULA that you have to scroll through tediously – no, no, not ever, and it never did it with licensing on Media Player. No that was just a bad dream, I’m sure.

‘Encourage your kids to ask your permission before they download anything from the Internet.’ Well, that will work just fine, I’m sure. ‘Sometimes your children may accidentally infect your computer with spyware or other unwanted software without even knowing they have downloaded anything.’ Heck, let’s not dwell on the fact that you can have a JPEG file on a web page that causes IE to execute a buffer overrun, thus installing all sorts of malware onto the machine. Read www.microsoft.com/ technet/security/bulletin/ ms04-028.mspx for the gory details.

Microsoft has a three-step guide to keeping your children under control: ‘Step 1: Talk with your kids’, which might come as a shock to some parents, I’m sure. ‘Step 2: Monitor your children’s activity on the Internet’. I doubt anyone would have any issues with this. Step 3 is a corker, though: ‘Step 3: Give your child a limited user account.’

Ah yes, the old limited user account dance. Let’s see, why do not we go over to the website of one of the biggest games vendors in the world, Electronic Arts at www.easports.com. Click on the Support button at the top of the page, and then choose Technical Support. On the next page, enter ‘administrator’ into the Search Text box. Let’s just peruse a few of the answers that come up at the top of the list:

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