Jack Writes: Microsoft's long-awaited Windows Vista is being designed to eradicate all the nasty spyware that maliciously tries to sneak into your computer. Although this may sound like good news for those users who prefer commodity, there is also a downside: the anti-spyware industry is seriously threatened.
Windows XP's successor has its heart set on introducing important changes at the heart of the operating system, as well as to Internet Explorer, and includes Windows Defender, an anti-spyware tool. Vista will offer more security improvements than any other version of Windows on the market.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, declaired: Vista, because it was pretty much conceived during the toughest times for Microsoft with regards to malicious software, has the most protection in it compared to any of their platforms.
The spyware threat will definitely shrink or shrivel. We got a handle on spam. It still gets through, but it is such a small percentage now, we know how to deal with what gets through. That same thing will happen to spyware. It will be under control, said John Pescatore, an analyst with Gartner.
Spyware and its litte cousin adware are widely resented for their sneaky distribution tactics, unauthorised data gathering and slowing of PCs. Therefore, Vista - unlike XP - will run by default with fewer user privileges. People will full administrator privileges to perform tasks such as installing an application.
Also, Internet Explorer 7, included with Vista, will prevent stealthy installs of malicious code by stopping the browser from writing data anywhere except in a temporary files folder without first seeking permission. Windows Defender will clean up any infections that do make it through. It is three layers of protection, said Austin Wilson, a director in the Windows Client group at Microsoft.
Wilson also added: We have taken out a significant number of the attack vectors that spyware authors use today. We're not saying that spyware will be gone because of Windows Vista. We do think we will make a significant impact.
In the meanwhile, the anti-spyware software producers seem to have bad days heading their way. The aftermarket for Windows anti-spyware is going to dry up almost completely, said Yankee Group analyst Andrew Jaquith. Windows Defender is going to become the default anti-spyware engine, certainly for most consumers that have Vista machines. Gartner's Pescatore agrees: Integrating Windows Defender into Windows Vista is sort of the last nail into the standalone anti-spyware coffin.
But not everyone shares the opinion that Vista can make spyware disappear or that its arrival will mean the end of the anti-spyware industry. David Moll, chief executive officer of Webroot, the largest standalone anti-spyware seller, said: I think all of these operating system enhancements are going to be helpful in the battle on spyware. I don't think there is a silver bullet, though.