After nearly two years in beta testing, Microsoft has at long last released the final version of Windows Defender, its free anti-spyware software. The tool is available now for Windows XP, and will ship as part of Windows Vista.
Originally named Windows AntiSpyware, Defender came from Microsoft’s acquisition of GIANT Software. The company bulked up the detection engine and added protection for pop-ups and other malware that affects PC performance. By offering Windows Defender without cost, however, Microsoft has irked some security vendors.
Microsoft has also added support for 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. But support for Windows 2000 has been dropped, as the operating system is now out of mainstream support. The Redmond company is offering customers two free support incidents for the software.