There’s a New Anti-Spyware Beta in Town

Microsoft this week released a new beta of its anti-spyware product with new definitions and features that are hopefully one step closer to final release. Meanwhile, Redmond continues to battle claims that it let alleged spyware purveyor Claria off the hook just because the two companies were negotiating a deal.

I’m running the free Microsoft tool and can’t figure out if it’s great or utterly useless. In the past I’ve been plagued with spyware, and non-Microsoft tools have identified loads of suspect files for removal. Now I just run the Microsoft product and it has yet to identify a single spyware intrusion -- very odd. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve been seriously hit by spyware since installation. What are your experiences with Microsoft Anti-Spyware? Write me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Spyware Part 2
Here’s a riddle. We all know that denial-of-service attacks are evil, but is it fair to launch them against those that are themselves attacking our computers? This is the conundrum posed by Blue Security Inc., which has announced a new initiative that will let users identify spammers, and once there are enough complaints, blast the spammers with so much traffic that they are forced, at least temporarily, to stop spamming.

This is a tough call. I am all for hunting down hackers and spammers and the like and punishing them. I am also for hacking back -- if you can. While Blue Security’s plan might set a dangerous course, at least it lets users take matters into their own hands, instead of powerlessly absorbing intrusions.

Fine Young MCP
Kids are amazing. Give them a computer and within hours they’ll show you things you’ve never seen before. I learned this when my daughter was 8 months old. She knew there was a connection to her pounding on the keyboard and what happened on the screen of my Windows 3.0-based PC, so she hit with abandon and laughed as hidden feature after hidden feature was revealed. She got even better with Amiga, discovering amazing back doors the programmers put in.

This is all to say I’m not a bit surprised that a 10-year-old girl from Pakistan has become one of the youngest Microsoft MCPs ever. Gaining her credentials at 9, Arfa Karim met Bill Gates last week and apparently wants to be just like him, studying at Harvard (just don’t drop out, Arfa!) and working for a software company. However, Arfa isn’t the youngest MCP of all time. That honor goes to Indian neighbor Mridul Seth who got an MCP at age 8. No wonder outsourcing to that region is so popular.

HP Slash and Burn
Sometimes I’m right, and when I am I tend to brag. (When I’m not, I lay low and hope no one notices.) When HP bought Compaq, I argued it was huge mistake, just a big financial manipulation to save money by reducing overlap, and that ultimately the spark that was Compaq would utterly disappear. I was right. Ever since the mega-merger, it’s been downsizing and downsizing, whittling the two monsters down to size.

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News that HP will cut almost 15,000 more jobs tells me the merger has created no growth, no synergy and no spark. And because HP is so large, we probably all know at least someone who was affected by this merger. HP is a great company, but Compaq was also once a great company.

Security Costs Money
Always interested in security, Microsoft this week revealed it’s trying to buy FrontBridge Technologies, a managed services company focused on e-mail. FrontBridge fights viruses and spam, archives, and offers high-availability services. I’ve never been a product manager so perhaps I’m naive in thinking the mail platform should provide these products, not an additional, paid-for service. On the other hand, FrontBridge also does a lot to help enterprises be in compliance, and that truly is a value-added service.

Another Day, Another Flaw
Microsoft has alerted customers to a Remote Desktop Services flaw in Windows XP, 2000 and Server 2003 that could let a hacker take control of machines. Of course, a patch is on the way. In the meantime, feel free to block port 3389 or disable terminal services -- I’m sure your users won’t mind!

So Sue Me
Maybe it’s all a press fabrication but the general perception is that Microsoft is jealous of Google’s success and covets the top search slot. So skeptics see a conspiracy in the fact that Microsoft is suing former Redmond computer scientist and researcher Kai-Fu Lee, who recently defected to Google, for violating a Microsoft non-disclosure agreement. Google hired Lee to set up a research lab in China, a pretty exciting proposition. And Lee does have some serious chops. While at Apple he oversaw the creation of QuickTime and has spent years working on voice recognition. Lee also has deep knowledge of Microsoft plans, so there is likely a legitimate reason driving Microsoft’s action.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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