Frequently asked questions about Windows Defender (Beta 2)

Published: February 13, 2006
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To learn more about the beta version of our new antispyware software, click one of the following topics, click a specific question, or select the View all answers check box.

Additional information about known issues with Windows Defender (Beta 2) is available in the release notes.


About Windows Defender (Beta 2)

Q.What is the difference between Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) and Windows Defender (Beta 2)?
A.

Windows Defender (Beta 2) is the name of the next beta version of Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware. It includes several enhancements that are based on customer input. Changes include, but are not limited to:

1.

Improved detection and removal. Windows Defender (Beta 2) can detect and remove more threats posed by spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Real-Time Protection, which helps prevent unwanted software from being installed, is enhanced to better monitor key points in the operating system for changes. These features help you stay productive because they help to prevent pop-ups and the performance degradation that is caused by spyware and other potentially unwanted software.

2.

Redesigned and simplified user interface. The Windows Defender (Beta 2) user interface has been redesigned to make it easer to scan your computer and remove unwanted files. The new interface also delivers a warning system that alerts you to the severity of a threat and makes appropriate recommendations to help secure your computer. This new design gives you more control over the software on your computer and minimizes interruptions to your work.

3.

Protection features for all users. Windows Defender (Beta 2) can now be run by all the users who use a particular computer, whether they have administrator-level privileges or not. This helps ensure that all the people who use a computer are able to benefit from the protection features offered by Windows Defender (Beta 2).

4.

Definition updates delivered through Automatic Updates. Windows Defender (Beta 2) now receives updates through Automatic Updates. Provided by Microsoft analysts, these updates help keep you protected from the latest threats at no additional cost.

5.

Voting network statistics. When Windows Defender (Beta 2) detects potentially unwanted software, it shows you how customers who participate in the opt-in network voted to classify the software. This helps provide you with more information even before Microsoft analysts evaluate the software.

Q.What is Windows Defender (Beta 2)?
A.

Windows Defender (Beta 2) is a security technology that helps protect you from spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Known spyware on your computer can be detected and removed. This helps reduce negative effects caused by spyware, including slow computer performance, annoying pop-up ads, unwanted changes to Internet settings, and unauthorized use of your private information. This enhanced protection improves Internet browsing safety by helping to guard the places where spyware can enter your computer.

Q.How does Windows Defender (Beta 2) work?
A.

When you install Windows Defender (Beta 2), you can immediately scan for spyware and other unwanted software that might be installed on your computer. You can schedule scans and choose to have harmful items removed or quarantined automatically. If potentially harmful software tries to run or install itself on your computer, Windows Defender (Beta 2) notifies you and helps you choose how to take action. And you can receive the latest spyware updates automatically.

Q.How much does Windows Defender (Beta 2) cost? How much will the final release cost?
A.

Windows Defender (Beta 2), subsequent beta versions, and the final release version will each be available at no additional charge for currently licensed Windows customers. You will be required to verify that you are using genuine Windows through a quick and easy online process called validation. Get more information about the Windows Genuine Advantage program.

Q.What are the system requirements for Windows Defender (Beta 2)?
A.

System requirements:

Processor: Pentium 233 MHz or higher processor; Pentium III (recommended)

Operating system: Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 or later, or Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 or later.

Memory: 64 MB RAM (minimum); 128 MB RAM (recommended)

Disk space: 20 MB of available hard disk space

Web browser: Internet Explorer 6.0 or later

Note: Windows Defender (Beta 2) does not run on the Microsoft Windows Me, Microsoft Windows 98, or Microsoft Windows NT operating systems.

Q.Does the version of Windows Defender (Beta 2) that is included in Windows Vista provide additional protection?
A.

Yes. Windows Defender (Beta 2) in Windows Vista offers additional performance and security enhancements including the ability to scan only files that have changed, to run under a security-enhanced account, and to scan files when you run them. Windows Defender (Beta 2) will also allow you to scan files as you download them if you use Internet Explorer 7.

Q.Is Windows Defender (Beta 2) the only security technology from Microsoft?
A.

No. There are many different security technologies available from Microsoft. To find out more about antispyware and antivirus technologies and their capabilities, see Windows Defender (Beta 2) compared to other Microsoft antispyware and antivirus technologies.

Q.What is Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta)?
A.

Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) was the name of a previous version of Windows Defender (Beta 2).

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Upgrading to Windows Defender (Beta 2)

Q.How do I get the latest version of Windows Defender (Beta 2)?
A.

If you installed Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) prior to the release of Windows Defender (Beta 2), you will receive a software notification when a new version is available. To download a copy, go to Microsoft Download Center.

Q.How do I check which version of Windows Defender (Beta 2) I have?
A.

In Windows Defender (Beta 2), click the drop-down menu next to the Help icon, and then click About Windows Defender. The version number appears in the dialog box that opens.

For more information, see How to see if I have the latest version of Windows Defender (Beta 2).

Q.Do I need to register Windows Defender (Beta 2)?
A.

No. The beta release of this software does not require registration.

Q.Does Windows Defender (Beta 2) require customers to participate in the Windows Genuine Advantage program?
A.

Yes. You will be required to verify that you are using genuine Windows through a quick and easy online process called validation. Get more information about the Windows Genuine Advantage program.

Q.Can I order Windows Defender (Beta 2) on CD-ROM?
A.

No. The beta version of the software is not available on CD-ROM.

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Using Windows Defender (Beta 2)

Q.What does Windows Defender (Beta 2) do when it finds spyware on my computer?
A.

Windows Defender (Beta 2) displays detailed information about every spyware program detected, which includes a description of the threat, where it is located on your computer, a risk rating, and a recommended action to take. This information allows you to make informed decisions about removal. You can either remove spyware permanently or temporarily disable it using Spyware Quarantine.

Q.Why doesn’t Windows Defender (Beta 2) detect cookies? Does Microsoft plan to detect these in future versions of the software?
A.

Because many cookies are used for legitimate purposes, Microsoft plans to refine the approach to cookies based on customer feedback received during the beta period. You can currently manage cookies through your Web browser.

Q.What is Real-Time Protection and how does it help protect me?
A.

Real-Time Protection monitors critical checkpoints in Windows. These checkpoints are triggered when programs make changes to your Windows configuration. These changes can occur when you install software on your computer, or they can occur when spyware or other potentially unwanted software attempts to install on your computer.

If the Real-Time Protection system detects a change in any checkpoint, Windows Defender (Beta 2) alerts you and provides the option for you to allow or block the change. In some cases—for example, when you install software—you can choose to allow the change in order to continue the installation process.

To configure the Real-Time Protection system, on the Tools menu, click Options. Scroll down to Real-Time Protection options section to view options to activate or deactivate the Real-Time Protection system.

Q.Which operating systems does Windows Defender (Beta 2) support?
A.

Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 or later, or Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 or later.

Q.What should I do if I have a technical question about Windows Defender (Beta 2)?
A.

Microsoft has set up a newsgroup forum to help answer your questions. Please visit the Windows Defender (Beta 2) newsgroup for support.

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Joining the Windows Defender (Beta 2) voting network

Q.What is the Windows Defender (Beta 2) voting network?
A.

Anyone who uses Windows Defender (Beta 2) can join a worldwide network of users who help discover and report new threats. Microsoft analysts review these reports and develop new software definitions to guard against the new threats, so that everyone is better protected.

Q.How does the voting network work?
A.

Because not all software that is detected is spyware, when you see if other users have chosen to block, remove, or allow an item, you can help decide how to respond to a Windows Defender (Beta 2) alert. Similarly, if you participate, your choices are reported to the community to help other users take action. Community preferences are displayed in Windows Defender (Beta 2) as a bar graph that shows the percentage of people who have allowed, blocked, or removed an item.

Spyware is continually developed, so information from the voting network also helps Microsoft determine which software to investigate. For example, if many people remove software that has not yet been classified, Microsoft will analyze it, determine if it is spyware, and then update the spyware definitions for your computer. Spyware definitions act like an ever-growing encyclopedia of known threats. Up-to-date definitions files help Windows Defender (Beta 2) detect the latest spyware threats and keep them from infecting your computer. If software is not spyware but operates in a way that might be harmful or unwanted, up-to-date definition files also allow Windows Defender (Beta 2) to alert you to potential risks posed by that software. The voting network collects no personal information unless you opt in to advanced participation.

Q.How do I join the voting network?
A.

To join the voting network:

1.

Open Windows Defender (Beta 2). (On the Start menu, point to All Programs, and then click Windows Defender.)

2.

Click Tools, and then click Microsoft SpyNet.

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Select the participation level and then click Save.

Q.What information does the voting network collect?
A.

The voting network collects information in a report about the file in question, such as the file name, and the action that you chose to take (to block or allow). When Windows Defender (Beta 2) sends the report to the voting network it also sends standard computer information, such as your region and language setting. The voting network collects no personal information unless you opt in to advanced participation.

Q.How are the voting network reports used?
A.

The voting network reports are used to improve Microsoft software and services. The reports might also be used for statistical or other testing or analytical purposes, trending, and signature generation. Microsoft employees, contractors, and vendors who have a business need to use the reports are provided access to them.

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Removing Windows Defender (Beta 2)

Q.How do I remove Windows Defender (Beta 2)?
A.

To remove Windows Defender (Beta 2) from Windows 2000 or Windows XP:

1.

On the Start menu, point to All Programs, and then click Windows Defender.

2.

Exit Windows Defender (Beta 2). (Click the arrow next to the help icon and point to Exit Windows Defender).

3.

On the Start menu, click Control Panel, and then double-click Add or Remove Programs.

4.

Click Windows Defender.

5.

Click Remove, and then in the dialog box that follows, click Yes.

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Understanding spyware

Q.What is spyware?
A.

Spyware is software that can display advertisements (such as pop-up ads), collect information about you, or change settings on your computer, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent. For more information, see What is spyware?

Q.How can I tell if I have spyware on my computer?
A.

You might have some form of spyware on your computer if:

You notice new toolbars, links, or favorites that you did not want or place in your Web browser.

Your default home page, mouse pointer, or search program changes.

You type the address for a specific Web site (for example, a search engine), but are taken to another Web site without notice.

You see a lot of pop-up ads, even if you're not on the Internet.

Your computer suddenly performs slowly or seems unstable.

Note: Some spyware might not have any symptoms at all. Its purpose is to collect information from you and your computer. Installing an antispyware program, such as Windows Defender (Beta 2), can help you scan your computer to find and remove spyware.

For more information, see Signs of spyware.

Q.Where does spyware come from?
A.

Spyware can be installed by Web sites, downloaded programs, or a program you might install from a CD-ROM or floppy disk. Spyware is most commonly installed through free software, such as file sharing programs, screen savers, or search toolbars.

Q.Can I get spyware without knowing it?
A.

Yes, some spyware can be installed from a Web site directly. However, if you keep Windows up to date and don't reduce your security settings, you can minimize the threat. Some spyware is installed through Web pop-up windows or free software that requires you to accept a downloadable file.

Q.How can I help prevent spyware?
A.

You can help prevent spyware with a combination of technology and common sense. Software products, such as Windows Defender (Beta 2), can help protect your computer by watching for spyware trying to install itself or run on your computer. Windows Defender (Beta 2) and other antispyware programs can also scan your system automatically to help find and remove spyware that might already be installed.

You can also help prevent spyware by keeping your Windows operating system up to date. Security updates are often issued to help prevent spyware from being installed without your knowledge. Most new antivirus programs have spyware protection features, and should be kept up to date as well. For more information, see Updating your computer: Frequently asked questions.

When you visit Web sites, do not automatically agree to download anything the site offers. If you download free software, such as file-sharing programs or screen savers, read the license agreement carefully. Look for clauses in which you must accept advertising and pop-ups from the company, or that the software will send certain information back to the software publisher. For more information, see How to prevent spyware.

Q.How do I remove spyware?
A.

One of the best ways to remove spyware is to use an automated antispyware product, such as Windows Defender (Beta 2), which scans and deletes spyware from your computer. For more ideas about how to remove spyware, see How to get rid of spyware.

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