It’s clear that Microsoft is taking OS safety and security very seriously. Although the company has often been accused of paying lip service to problems with Windows, it has made an excellent effort to solve these problems with its current offering of security tools.

I covered the Windows AntiSpyware beta when it was first released in 2005. Now the program has moved into Beta 2 and been renamed Windows Defender. Microsoft appears to have made some significant improvements to the original tool it acquired along with Giant Software and on which its antispyware product is based. Windows Defender builds on the information gathered in the first beta and now offers improved detection and removal tools. The interface has been simplified for non-technical users, and even technically competent users will appreciate its improved organization. You'll find the Windows Defender Web site found at the following URL:It’s clear that Microsoft is taking OS safety and security very seriously. Although the company has often been accused of paying lip service to problems with Windows, it has made an excellent effort to solve these problems with its current offering of security tools.

I covered the Windows AntiSpyware beta when it was first released in 2005. Now the program has moved into Beta 2 and been renamed Windows Defender. Microsoft appears to have made some significant improvements to the original tool it acquired along with Giant Software and on which its antispyware product is based. Windows Defender builds on the information gathered in the first beta and now offers improved detection and removal tools. The interface has been simplified for non-technical users, and even technically competent users will appreciate its improved organization. You'll find the Windows Defender Web site found at the following URL: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx

Targeted at home and small office/home office (SOHO) users is the Windows Live Safety Center at http://safety.live.com/site/en-US/default.htm. This is a Web-based scanning service that automates many of the system cleanup tools that Windows XP includes. It also performs a virus scan and a port scan on the computer from which it's run. It’s not a precisely targeted computer repair tool because it supports only a full system scan or a limited scan targeted at a specific major area of the computer system.

Windows Live Safety Center, Windows Defender, and the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool make up a troika of free software tools that protects consumers' computers from attacks that result from careless use of the Internet. In addition, Windows OneCare Live will offer a fee-based service to provide additional security and maintenance to home and SOHO Windows users.

If you're a corporate IT pro, you're probably thinking, "What about the big corporate environments?" Microsoft Client Protection is a malware solution for protecting clients and servers in the enterprise environment. It provides a set of tools you can automate that integrate the capabilities in Windows Defender and the Malicious Software Removal Tool. The Client Protection beta isn't public, but Microsoft expects to have the open beta available by third quarter 2006. For more information, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/solutions/security/clientprotection/default.mspx

Tip – Many Web sites I use for business purposes launch small informational or activity browser windows for specific actions. On many of these sites, the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) windows that open are unusable with the screen resolutions I work in or because of the site's coding. I end up with windows that are difficult if not impossible to navigate because I don't see the scroll bars and can't resize the window.

I’ve discovered a little workaround that lets me get past these windows in most situations. You might find it useful, too.

1. In the pop-up window, right-click and select Create Shortcut from the context menu.
2. Close the pop-up window. Click the shortcut you just created. This will usually launch the same window in a full-sized browser so that you have access to data entry fields and scroll bars. http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx