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Giant step for Microsoft spyware killer

Software maker's first antispyware application is nearly ready for action. It could be released this week.

Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on its spyware killer, which is based on technology from a recently acquired company, Giant Software. The beta version is expected to debut in a few days.

Microsoft's December purchase of Giant, a small U.S. publisher of spyware detection software, put Microsoft in a position to offer an antispyware application of its own. Spyware is software that can, among other things, inundate users with unwanted pop-ups and surreptitiously monitor a computer's activity.

The technology enthusiast Web site has just published the first screenshots of the beta version, putting a release date of Thursday on the beta.

Nicolas Mirail, technical head of security at Microsoft France, told ZDNet France: "We are already in the process of internal testing of the beta version of the antispyware (program), which will be released to the public in January," he said. "No precise release date has been set yet."

Microsoft is also keeping quiet about whether the application, which will be compatible with Windows 2000 and later versions of the operating system, is designed to be an integrated part of Windows, like a security patch, or if it will be distributed or sold separately.

The Redmond, Wash., company is also working on antivirus software, which is likely to be a standalone offering. The antivirus tool is expected to be released this year.

Christophe Guillemin of ZDNet France reported from Paris.