Friday, July 25, 2008

Microsoft for FREE Virus Removal

Microsoft, whose popular Windows software is a frequent target for Internet viruses, is offering a free security program to remove the most dangerous infections from computers.

The program, with monthly updates, is a step toward plans by Microsoft to sell full antivirus software later this year.

Microsoft said that starting today, consumers could download the new program from the company's website - - and updated versions would be offered automatically and free each month.

Also being offered is a free program to remove "spyware", a category of irritating programs that secretly monitor the activities of internet users and can cause sluggish computer performance or pop-up advertisements.

Microsoft said the virus-removal program would not prevent computer infections and was not intended to replace the need for traditional antivirus software, such as flagship products from McAfee or Symantec.

But a senior Microsoft executive confirmed the company's plans to sell its own antivirus software, which would compete against programs from McAfee, Symantec and others.

Microsoft bought a Romanian antivirus firm, GeCAD Software, for an undisclosed amount in 2003. Industry rivals expect Microsoft's formal entry into the market as early as March.

"We will have a stand-alone antivirus product that is one of the things you can buy from Microsoft, but we're not announcing anything today," said Rich Kaplan, vice president for Microsoft's security business and technology unit.

The offers of free virus- and spyware-removal tools were intended to convince consumers that Microsoft was working to improve its software's security, Kaplan said.

Microsoft and other companies have occasionally offered separate programs to disinfect specific viruses.

Microsoft is sensitive to criticism about the susceptibility of its Windows operating system software to computer viruses.

It has responded by tightening security for its popular Outlook email software and improving the protective firewall utility for Windows.

But its reputation has largely hinged on consumers' effective use of antivirus products and other security programs outside Microsoft's control.

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