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Microsoft makes Giant antispyware purchase

Redmond has acquired Giant Company Software Inc., the maker of a desktop tool to catch and remove insidious programs.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' dream of bringing malware under control took one small step closer to reality with

[Giant's tool] works, and unlike a lot of the freeware, it runs successfully as an in-memory program.

Michael Berlin, network administrator

today's announced acquisition of New York-based antispyware maker Giant Company Software Inc.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Microsoft said that within a month it will make available to Windows customers a beta version of a tool for spyware protection, removal and detection based on Giant's technology. Pricing, delivery and product plans were not made available.

Microsoft said the software will scan a user's PC to locate spyware and other threats, and let customers remove them. The tool will also be configurable to block known spyware and other tools from being installed on a computer.

Some IT administrators were pleased by the acquisition, citing Giant's application as "one of the more effective tools."

"It works, and unlike a lot of the freeware, it runs successfully as an in-memory program," said Michael Berlin, a network administrator at Hodes, Ulman, Pessin & Katz, P.A., a Towson, Md., law firm. "It loads in your startup and runs in your system tray. Some products, like [Webroot Software Inc.] Spysweeper, load in the system tray and never seem to catch anything."

Antispyware applications

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for the desktop are just about the only option for administrators, Berlin said. "I haven't seen a single successful enterprise application," he said.

Analysts have said that leading antivirus vendors have failed to address spyware, leaving a huge opening for software companies such as Computer Associates International Inc., which purchased PestPatrol in August. Now, Microsoft has made a similar move with its acquisition of Giant.

But Microsoft still needs to beef up Internet Explorer's ability to protect users of the Web browser, said John Pescatore, a vice president and research fellow at Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn. "Giant technology may help with that but not until Microsoft releases [Service Pack] 3 for XP, which we believe will be by year end 2005.

Pescatore said that in the interim, Microsoft had to have an antispyware product in its lineup because of all the recent publicity about users moving to the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser.

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