This morning, Microsoft pleasantly surprised me by purchasing GIANT Company Software, which makes what I believe is the best antispyware solution on the market. The acquisition includes all of GIANT's products, technology, and staff. Microsoft will soon launch a beta of an upcoming version of Giant AntiSpyware, which will likely be branded a Microsoft product, and will present the solution as the ultimate security companion to Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).
  
"Spyware is a serious and growing problem for PC users, and customers have made it clear that they want Microsoft to deliver effective solutions to protect against the threat," Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit, said. "Through this acquisition we're excited to be able to provide near-term relief to Windows customers by offering new technology to help keep spyware and other deceptive software off their PCs."
  
I spoke with GIANT Cofounder Andrew Newman just the other day, before the Microsoft acquisition was finalized, and he told me that his company's spyware solution is unique for several reasons, including its community-driven approach to identifying malware. The company has created an online resource called Spynet that helps catalog and identify the types of executables people install on their PCs. "The Spynet technology helps users decide what is and is not spyware," Newman told me. "The biggest goal is to develop a system that is knowledgeable and intelligent about what applications are spyware. We have the users contribute to it as well. What's amazing is that the Spynet community is helping us determine the actual logic that goes into the system."
  
Although Microsoft has committed to shipping a public beta of the next version of Giant AntiSpyware sometime in the next 30 days, the company hasn't yet determined final product plans, pricing, and a delivery timeline. However, Newman told me that GIANT was working on an enterprise version of its product, which was to have hit the beta stage by the end of 2004. That means Microsoft could very well have sewn up spyware solutions for both its XP and Windows 2000 clients and its Windows Server 2003 and Win2K Server products.
  
As a matter of full disclosure, I investigated numerous antispyware solutions this year after a nasty series of Trojan horses hit my laptop, and I found Giant AntiSpyware to be the best solution by far, well ahead of more well-known applications such as Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy. I strongly recommend that all XP and Win2K users take a look at Microsoft's public beta of the next version of Giant AntiSpyware when it's released early next month. If we're lucky, Microsoft will simply roll the technology into future versions of Windows.