I’ve been linking early reactions to the beta of Microsoft’s anti-spyware tool over on the link blog. I haven’t had a chance to download it yet, but perhaps later today I’ll find some time. (I worked out my work schedule to be home today to meet the gas meter-reader guy to try and get the gas company’s “calculation” corrected, and naturally I wind up getting a cold and being home sick anyway!)
Anyway, back to the point. The one thing I’m waiting for on this tool is how MS plans on licensing it. I’ve found myself nodding in agreement while reading some of Ed Bott’s points on this subject. I don’t think MS should be looking at charging for this. I think it should be a core part of the OS. Here’s why:
If MS can get anti-spyware built into future versions of the OS, and available via Automatic Updates for existing versions, the entire market for spyware will eventually dry up. Yes, I know a lot of people will never get the patch, that’s being proved every day, but eventually all of these people will buy a new PC, with a new OS version, with the anti-spyware tool built in. Long-term, spyware makers won’t be able to get their stuff on Windows PC’s and keep it there with any sort of regularity, because Windows will be actively working to keep the PC clean. You won’t need legislation and law enforcement to make the spyware market be unprofitable, technology, assuming it’s done correctly, could take care of it. Charging for it means a whole bunch of people won’t bother paying for it, and the market won’t dry up and IT folks will still be spending time cleaning up small office and home PC’s infected with spyware!
On the other hand, MS could get the tech wrong, spyware makers could and probably will adjust to use different vulnerabilities, and any number of new nastiness will show up over the next few years. But, MS has the chance to give us all hope by making this anti-spyware tool available for free, and getting it spread as widely as possible. Let’s hope they do exactly that!
Update: Then, of course, something I didn’t address directly, how does bundling an anti-spyware app create more legal trouble for MS? Check the bottom of this post from Spud for details.
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