Windows Defender Beta 2 released

New version of free spyware-removal tool has a simpler interface

Microsoft has posted a second beta version of Windows Defender, its free spyware-removal tool.

The program is in a name-change transition: Windows Defender initially was called Windows AntiSpyware. The new version can be downloaded at http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx.

Microsoft said the new version has been redesigned with a simpler interface. Other features include a warning system that rates the severity of threats so the program is less intrusive for the user, Microsoft said.

The program's scanning engine has also been tweaked to detect and remove more spyware, and the program receives automatic updates, the company said.

The Real-Time Protection feature now better monitors "key points" in the OS for changes, Microsoft said. Windows Defender Beta 2 will continue to run regardless of whether the user has administrative privileges, a change that ensures it continues to monitor the computer.

Beta 2 supports the Windows XP Professional x64 edition. The German and Japanese versions will be available soon, Microsoft said.

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