In the December 1st edition of the Windows Vista Report, “Windows Vista’s
Security Center stands to gain some real substance
“, I alluded to the
fact that the next CTP version of Windows Vista would contain an actual Spyware Protection program. And it does indeed, with the fully
loaded edition of Windows Defender (formerly known as Windows AntiSpyware). Microsoft’s new antispyware
software is based on the technology obtained by the December 2004 acquisition of
GIANT Company Software. Here’s a closer look at Windows Defender–some of its most
interesting features and how it works.

At home in the Security Center

Windows Defender is integrated into the Security Center in the
Spyware Protection section by default, as shown in
Figure A. This will provide your computer with protection against spyware right out of the box. However, like the Firewall
and Virus Protection, you’ll be able to replace Windows Defender with a
third-party antispyware utility if you wish.

Figure A

Windows Defender is integrated into the Security Center.

Accessing Windows Defender

Once you launch Windows Defender, which you can do from
within the Security Center or a tray icon, you’ll immediately notice that the
user interface is very clean, as shown in Figure B, which makes it easy to use.
As you can see, the main page quickly provides detailed status information. The
green shield icon at the top provides a quick indication that the system is free
from spyware while the panel at the bottom provides
you with a more detailed account, including when the last scan was run, what
level of scan was run, when the next automatic scan is scheduled to run, that
real-time protection is currently monitoring, and the version and date of the
currently enabled spyware signatures.

Figure B

Windows Defender’s user interface is very straightforward making it
extremely easy to use.

And while I’m on the topic of spyware
signatures, I’ll point out that because Windows Defender is integrated into the
operating system, new spyware
signatures are delivered and installed via Automatic Updates and Windows Update.

h2>Working with Windows Defender

To work with Windows Defender, you use the icons on the
toolbar. To initiate a quick scan, you can click the Scan icon or you can click
the adjacent drop-down arrow and select a Full Scan or a Custom Scan, which
will allow you to target a specific drive or folder to scan, as shown in Figure

Figure C

The Custom Scan feature allows you to target a specific location for a
spyware scan.

Clicking the History icon displays a page that contains a
list of all the spyware and other potentially
unwanted software that Windows Defender discovered on your system. The History
page also provides details on whether the spyware/software
was removed, blocked or allowed.

Clicking the Tools icon displays the Settings and Tools
page, as shown in Figure D, where you’ll find both standard antispyware
configuration options as well as several other very interesting items, such as AntiSpyware Community, Software Explorers and the Windows
Defender website.

Figure D

In addition to the standard fare, Settings and Tools page provides some
very interesting options.

The AntiSpyware Community is a
forum where you can go to get more information about the items that Windows
Defender flags as spyware and how to handle them. For
example, you’ll be able to access a trust rating system that compiles
information on how many other members have removed, blocked, or allowed the same

Software Explorers is a real-time analysis tool that can
examine and identify every running program in several categories. For example,
choosing the Currently Running category provides detailed information about
every process that you’d find on the Task Manager’s Processes tab, as shown in
Figure E. Now, you’ll be able to easily identify operating system processes and
isolate suspect processes.

Figure E

The Software Explorers will provide you with detailed information about
running applications.

Clicking the Windows Defender website button takes you to
Microsoft’s Security page where you’ll be able to get more information and
additional tools.


While I’ve only provided you with a quick tour, it’s easy to
see that Windows Defender looks like it’s going to be a very nice addition to
the Windows Vista’s security features. Keep in mind that Windows Vista’s
official release date is still over a year away and some of the information
presented about Windows Defender may change. As always, if you have comments or
information to share about Windows Vista December CTP or Windows Defender,
please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.