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Microsoft Windows Defender

Windows Defender is a free program that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software. It features Real-Time Protection, a monitoring system that recommends actions against spyware when it's detected and minimizes interruptions and helps you stay productive. Now with 2 free support incidents for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Features: 
• Enhanced performance through a new scanning engine. • Streamlined, simplified user interface and alerts. • Improved control over programs on your computer using enhanced Software Explorer. • Multiple language support with globalization and localization features. • Protection technologies for all users, whether or not they have administrator rights on the computer. • Support for assistive technology for individuals who have physical or cognitive difficulties, impairments, and disabilities. • Support for Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. • Automatic cleaning according to your settings during regularly scheduled scans.
Benefits: 

Helps detect and remove spyware
• Spyware detection. Quickly and easily finds spyware and other unwanted programs that can slow down your computer, display annoying pop-up ads, change Internet settings, or use your private information without your consent.
• Straightforward operation and thorough removal technology. Eliminates detected spyware easily at your direction. If you inadvertently remove programs that you actually want, it's easy to get them back.
• Scheduled scanning and removal. Runs these processes when it's convenient for you, whether it's on-demand or on a schedule that you set.

Improves Internet browsing safety
• Helps stop spyware before it infiltrates your computer. Offers a continuous safeguard designed to target all the ways that spyware can infiltrate your computer.
• Works without distracting you. Runs in the background and automatically handles spyware based on preferences that you set. You can use your computer with minimal interruption.

Helps stop the latest threats
• Expertise you can rely on. A dedicated team of Microsoft researchers continuously searches the Internet to discover new spyware and develop methods to counteract it.
• Stops new threats quickly. A voluntary, worldwide network of Windows Defender users helps Microsoft determine which suspicious programs to classify as spyware. Participants help discover new threats quickly and notify Microsoft analysts, so that everyone is better protected. Anyone who uses Windows Defender can join this network and help report potential spyware to Microsoft.
• Automatically stays up to date. To help protect your computer from the latest threats, you can choose to have updates that counteract new spyware automatically downloaded to your computer.

Windows Defender detects and removes known spyware from your computer, which helps make your Internet browsing safer.

The software uses automatic definition updates provided by Microsoft analysts to help detect and remove new threats as the threats are identified.

Minimum Requirements: 

Microsoft Validation is required

Product Delivery: 
Electronic Delivery (download)

Comments

What is spyware?

Spyware is a general term used to describe software that performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal information, or changing the configuration of your computer, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent first.

Spyware is often associated with software that displays advertisements (called adware) or software that tracks personal or sensitive information.

Not all software that provides ads or tracks your online activities is bad. For example, you might sign up for a free music service, but you "pay" for the service by agreeing to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and agree to them, you may have decided that it is a fair tradeoff. You might also agree to let the company track your online activities to determine which ads to show you.

Other kinds of spyware make changes to your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer to slow down or stop responding. These programs can change your web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your browser you don't need or want. These programs also make it difficult for you to change your settings back to the way you originally had them.

There are a number of ways spyware or other unwanted software can get on your computer. A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you want such as a music or video file sharing program.

The key in all cases is whether or not you (or someone who uses your computer) understand what the software will do and have agreed to install the software on your computer.

Whenever you install something on your computer, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement. Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation is documented, but it might appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.

("What is spyware?" article is from the windows defender page at microsoft.com)