Microsofts Windows defender anti-spyware tool has hit the Beta 2 milestone with a major user interface facelift and integration with Windows Vista.
The revamped Windows Defender Beta 2, which has been expanded to scan for rootkits, keystroke loggers and other forms of malware, has shed the former Giant AntiSpyware look and feel in favor of a cleaner UI and a new scanning engine that promises better performance.
During a keynote presentation at the RSA Conference here, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., provided a brief demo of Windows Defender and showed how Web-borne malware attacks can be quarantined and blocked in real time. Combined with the security-focused changes coming in Internet Explorer 7 and the no-admin defaults in Windows Vista, Microsoft officials are touting a secure-by-default operating system featuring "multiple layers of protection."
Windows Defender, which is a free product for licensed Windows customers, now features a streamlined UI to handle alerts and a new Software Explorer feature that promises improved control over programs on a users computer.
Officials said the application now supports x64 operating systems and protection technologies for all users, whether or not they have administrator rights on the computer.
The always-visible target icon associated with the previous Windows AntiSpyware application has been removed. Users will only notice Windows Defender running when theres an alert sent from the application, according to early tests done by this reporter.
Alerts will no longer come in the form of pop-up windows. Instead, notifications will mimic the yellow balloon used in Windows. Visible alerts and notifications have been turned off by default.
Microsoft officials said Windows Defender also features automatic cleaning; multiple language support with globalization and localization features; and support for assistive technology for individuals who have physical or cognitive difficulties, impairments or disabilities.
Beta 2 will ship as an automatic update for current users.