It’s always a challenge to find the right anti-malware tool that you can proudly recommend. Besides anti-virus software, over the years I have used tons of anti-spyware tools. There were times when I used 4 different tools because no single tool was good enough to protect my PC from every spyware. At one point Windows Defender proved to be a very reliable tool but it only protected my PC from viruses, not spyware.
Microsoft then came out with Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), which is a free tool. It includes protection from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. You can download MSE at no cost here.
Mandatory Joining of SpyNet Removed (Great! Right? Not really)
When Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) came out, a lot of experts were really impressed by the product. MSE protects your PC from antivirus as well as anti-spyware. However, the thing I didn’t like about MSE was that Microsoft decided to make it mandatory for people to send their personal information to them if they chose to install MSE. Microsoft legal department must have taken the day off when Microsoft released MSE, or else they would have something to say. Believe it or not, Microsoft forced everyone to join SpyNet and gave us only the following two choices.
Choice #1: You must agree to have information automatically collected and sent to Microsoft, including your personal information.
Choice #2: You must agree to have information automatically collected and sent to Microsoft, including your personal information.
That’s right. Those were the only two choices. You could either send “some” information to Microsoft or you could send “a lot” of information to Microsoft. The two choices included:
Basic Membership: You agree to send some information to Microsoft.
Advanced Membership: You agree to send a lot of information to Microsoft.
In either case Microsoft warned us that we might be risking our privacy because our personal information might be unintentionally sent to Microsoft, as I pointed out in this article. I also said at that time that “I believe if enough people complain then Microsoft will add the third option of opting out of Microsoft SpyNet.”
During that time I refused to recommend MSE to my clients and removed MSE from my PCs. Then finally someone at Microsoft realized that “force feeding” of personal information to Microsoft may not be a good idea. Or perhaps enough people complained that Microsoft decided to change their policy.
Below you will find the old and the new screenshots showing the option for joining SpyNet.
The Penalty for Not Joining SpyNet
If you think you are forgiven by Microsoft for not joining SpyNet, think again. Now if you decide to opt out Microsoft will penalize you by not alerting you if unclassified software is detected running on your computer. While giving us the option to opt-out is great but penalizing us for not joining SpyNet is not. I will say the same thing I said back in 2010 that if enough people complain then Microsoft might change its mind and remove the penalty imposed on the consumers. But for now, if you like the software, you have to agree to suffer the consequences. I guess there is no such thing as a free lunch.
A Good Overall Anti-Malware Solution
When Microsoft removed the forced joining of SpyNet, I started to recommend MSE to everyone and have installed it on all my clients. I know, I agree to the penalty because I didn’t join the SpyNet but I love this product. I prefer MSE over the competitors, such as AVG, Avira, and Avast. The MSE reviews have always been great. Check out Fred Langa’s recent review of MSE. He did a great job of running various tests on antivirus software packages and came up with the conclusion that MSE was once again one of the best overall anti-malware tool out there (see screenshot below). Okay, I won’t speak for him but that’s my own conclusion. I encourage you to read his complete Windows Secrets article here and decide what you think.
MSE is supported on Windows 7, Windows Vista (SP1 or SP2), and Windows XP (SP3).
Free Antivirus Tool Recommendation
Currently I prefer the following free antivirus tools. Keep in mind that MSE is more than an antivirus, it protects you from viruses, spyware and other malware, while ClamWin is strictly an antivirus solution.
Mary Jo Foley posted an article on ZDNet yesterday in which she mentioned that Microsoft is planning to release to manufacturing (RTM) its Office 15 products, Office servers which will include SharePoint Server 15, and Office 365 bundle hopefully in 2012. If the next version of Microsoft Office is released in 2012 then it is likely to be called “Office 2012″ but if the product slips into next year then it may be called “Office 2013.”
In her blog post Mary Jo Foley said that she was able to confirm that the following features will be included in SharePoint 15:
“1. SharePoint 15 will include a new SharePoint Apps Marketplace
2. SharePoint Apps will support multi-tenant installations so that hosting providers can make available the same set of applications to multiple customers
3. SharePoint 15 gets a new Education module/option making the product more of a head-to-head competitor with Moodle, which is an open-source course-management system“
In addition, she indicated that:
“SharePoint 15 and Exchange Server 15 are both also getting additional built-in information-rights-management (IRM) document-protection functionality as part of the base products.”
That is going to be awesome. I can’t wait for the next version of SharePoint.
I prefer to use PowerShell ISE over the standard Windows PowerShell console. Here are some keyboard shortcuts that you may find helpful. Just make sure that you use the 64-bit version of PowerShell ISE and not the 32-bit. If you use Windows PowerShell ISE in Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 then you are using the 64-bit version. If you use Windows PowerShell ISE (x86) then you are using the 32-bit version.
|PowerShell Command||Keyboard Shortcut|
|New Script (pane)||Ctrl + N|
|Open Script (or other file)||Ctrl + O|
|Save||Ctrl + S|
|Save As||Alt +F + A|
|New PowerShell Tab||Ctrl + T|
|Close PowerShell Tab||Ctrl + W|
|Close Script||Ctrl + F4|
|New Remote PowerShell Tab||Ctrl + Shift + R|
For more information on this topic check out this Microsoft TechNet article.
Microsoft Lync is a unified communications platform that users can use keep track of their contacts’ availability, send an IM; start or join an audio, video, or Web conference; or make a phone call—all through a consistent, familiar interface. Lync is built to fully integrate with Microsoft Office. The Microsoft Lync 2010 desktop client is available for Windows and for Mac and mobile versions are available for Windows Phone, iPhone/iPad, and Android devices.
There are some known issues with Lync Online that I thought might be helpful for you to know if you use the product. Sometimes it is good to know a product’s limitations so that you can either find workarounds or not waste time in fixing something that is a known limitation of the product. I have gathered the following information from various sources. I ran this by some of my Microsoft contacts and they were able to confirm almost all of these limitations, except for #4, #5 and #11 that they were unable to test.
You can read more about Microsoft Lync here.
A few years ago I wrote this article Deleting Old User Profiles in Windows 2000/XP/2003 about a User Profile Deletion utility called DelProf.exe. This tool is part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit. Because it was written for older operating systems it won’t work on Windows Vista or later operating systems.
Lucky for us, Microsoft MVP Helge Klein has written a successor utility called DelProf2 that works with newer operating systems, such as Windows 7. DelProf2 works with Windows XP/2003/Vista/Windows 7/Windows 2008/Windows 2008R2.
DelProf2 will even handle profiles that use long paths (i.e. MAX_PATH values of longer than 260). This tool is great if you want to get rid of old profiles that are taking disk space. It will delete all profiles except the current profile. It will leave the necessary system profiles (e.g. Default profile) alone. Default profile is used by the operating system to create a profile for a new user by making a copy of the Default profile. You also have the option to delete locally cached copies of roaming profiles or delete older profiles that have not been used for a certain period of time, such as older than 90 days.
Here is the syntax used by DelProf2.
Usage: delprof2 [/u] [/q] [/i] [/p] [/r] [/c:[\\]<computername>] [/d:<days>] /u Unattended (no confirmation) /q Quiet (no output and no confirmation) /i Ignore errors, continue deleting /p Prompt for confirmation before deleting each profile /r Delete local caches of roaming profiles only, not local profiles /c Delete on remote computer instead of local machine /d Delete only profiles not used in x days /l List only, do not delete (what-if mode)
Helge has some nice examples on his site. You can use DelProf2 to delete inactive profiles remotely (including Windows 7 computers) using their IP addresses.
DelProf2 is a free utility that can be downloaded from Helge’s Web site here. While you are at it, you might want to check out some additional tools that he has written.
Copyright © 2013 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.
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