As indicated in my post from last week and in a press release just this morning, we have made a beta version of Microsoft AntiSpyware available for download (more details here). It's based on the technology we acquired with our recent purchase of GIANT Company Software, Inc., and in my few days of testing, it appears to do a better job than the combined efforts of both Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy. Like Windows Update, the AutoUpdater feature can check for and automatically download new spyware definitions on a scheduled (and user-configurable) basis. And by default, the software runs a periodic system scan. For the past few days, a summary window has been waiting for me when I sit down at my computer in the morning. It's nice to start the day knowing that my system is "clean."
Microsoft AntiSpyware also provides real-time protection by monitoring activity on your system with over 100 Security Agents. Security Agents are proactive in that they help to stop threats before they are installed. From the integrated help: "When software is installed or a change is made to your protected computer, internet, or application settings, System Agents react to analyze the change, and either allow the change if it is known to be safe, block the change if it is known spyware, or prompt you for additional action." Nice.
There's also a SpyNet feature that allows your computer to share new threats with an AntiSpyware community. So, if your system and its Security Agents identify new spyware, the rest of the community can benefit as a result. The help file calls it a "neighborhood watch" for spyware, and that seems like a perfect mental image to me. This is similar to the way a lot of anti-spam software works, and it's been shown to be very effective.
Remember that this is a beta release, and normal beta rules apply (don't install it on a production system, don't use it on production data, don't run with scissors in your hands, don't eat red meat, etc.). I really like what GIANT has put into this product. It's very easy to use, yet configurable enough for geeks. Plus, it's proactive, so I don't have to worry about running system scans every few days. What I've seen so far makes me excited about the future possibilities of Microsoft AntiSpyware.
Update: Flexbeta compares Microsoft AntiSpyware with Ad-Aware and Spybot and concludes that "Microsoft AntiSpyware was able to detect more infected files than the current leading anti-spyware applications in the market today, Ad-Aware and SpyBot S&D."