Posted by: kurtsh | October 24, 2006

RELEASE: Windows Defender [Final]

We released Windows Defender the other day so start upgrading.

Windows Defender is Microsoft’s no-charge Anti-Spyware tool for protecting systems from intruders and/or illicit applications and executables.  It’s more than just a detection system based upon signature definitions.  Windows Defender does a couple of very cools things – not the least of which being it’s ability to connect to "SpyNet", a live online database to further validate or check unknown executables or processes.  "SpyNet" is a neural net of applications that are deemed as "bad" by the computing community. 

By analyzing reports that are funnelled up to SpyNet by Windows Defender (this "funnelling" is entirely voluntary) Windows Defender can determine whether the "community at large" believes that the process is a threat.

Here’s a few of the new features that I think are important:

64-BIT SUPPORT:  One of the big features is NATIVE 64-BIT SUPPORT.  Folks – this is one of the first true 64-bit Anti-spyware applications and that bodes well for anyone looking to secure their 64-bit machines today and in the future.  64-bit support today means better reliability & quality in the future.  And for those of you who think 64-bit is "far into the future"… you haven’t learned from history, have you? 

  • Remember the transition from 8-bit support to 16-bit support in the DOS-Windows1.0 days?
  • Remember the transition from 16-bit support to 32-bit support in the Windows3.1-Windows95 days?

…WindowsXP-WindowsVista64-bit is the same thing.  And to make the point even stronger, unlike previous register length transitions, the 32-bit to 64-bit transition has no price barrier:  64-bit chips that are 32-bit compatible cost the same as today’s standards 32-bit processors.

NO ADMIN PRIVILEGES REQ:  A standard user, without admin privileges on a machine can run Windows Defender.  This is huge because it means that any user can protect their machine.  A lot of anti-virus applications and anti-spyware tools require administrative privileges to run – but not Windows Defender.

FAST DEFINITION UPDATES:  Updates are downloaded using "delta-ing" or what is more commonly known as "byte-level differencing" technology.  This allows people to download only the changes to the list of "bad applications" or "processes" – basically just "what’s new" instead of the information they’ve alreayd downloaded in the past.  And because this list can become very large (some vendors have lists that are 25-40MB in size.  Imagine having to download 40MB to your machine over the Internet everyday… instead of just downloading "what’s new".




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