December 16, 2004 8:57 AM PST

Microsoft buys anti-spyware technology firm

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Microsoft announced Thursday that it has acquired Giant Company Software, a privately owned provider of anti-spyware, anti-pop-up and antispam tools.

Microsoft said it plans to offer tools based on Giant's technology that will help protect Windows PCs from spyware and other deceptive software. The technology complements security features available in Windows XP Service Pack 2, the company said.

A beta version of a tool based on Giant's anti-spyware product will be available to Windows customers within one month, according to a statement from Microsoft. This beta version of the software will scan a user's PC to locate spyware and enable customers to remove it, the company said. The tool will also be configurable, so users can block known spyware and other specific unwanted software from being installed on a computer.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company didn't disclose financial details of the acquisition, nor did it provide a timeline for the introduction of new products based on the technology, apart from the one-month estimate on the release of the beta.

Over the past couple of years, Microsoft's Internet browser has been hit hard by security threats. Malicious code writers have targeted security holes in Internet Explorer to launch attacks and install spyware. These attacks are often launched when a victim clicks on a specific Web link, opening the door for criminals to take over the person's computer. Once the PC is compromised, the attacker often can access information stored on the computer, load other software on the machine and delete files.

"Spyware is a serious and growing problem for PC users, and customers have made it clear that they want Microsoft to deliver effective solutions to protect against the threat," Mike Nash, vice president of Microsoft's Security Business and Technology unit, said in a statement. "Through this acquisition we're excited to be able to provide near-term relief to Windows customers by offering new technology to help keep spyware and other deceptive software off their PCs."

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This is great news. GIANT Anti-spyware looks like a quality product. Now if only Microsoft would provide free, it would be my anti-spyware program. They've suprised me before by offering free goods, like the Windows XP CD.
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