WINDOWS DEFENDER, the embedded Microsoft anti-malware software in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, is to add scareware utilities to its list of targets from March.
We've all been there - warnings of out of date drivers, thousands of registry errors, and usually with a message claiming "we'll fix 30 for free, then you pay". Most of it is utter twaddle and won't affect your computing experience at all. In fact, in a lot of cases, they do more harm than good.
Sometimes its deliberate malice, sometimes its misguided "help" but either way, it's a waste of money.
Enter Microsoft, which is finally doing something after decades of this problem, with a new evaluation criterion for apps that do this kind of nonsense.
Barak Shein of Windows Defender Security Research explains that under the new rules: "…programmes must not use alarming or coercive messaging that can put pressure on customers into making a purchase or performing other actions.
"We use the evaluation criteria to determine what programs are identified as malware and unwanted software. In the future, programs that display coercive messaging will be classified as unwanted software, detected, and removed."
This is an extension of 2016 rules requiring cleaner programs to explain explicitly what they're actually doing and why - some apps were apparently just stating that there was an "error" without expanding.
Also for the chop will be warnings that the problem has a specific timeframe for fixing. Because outside of Mission Impossible, that just doesn't happen. That's not to say computers don't fail, but putting a self-destruct time on them is just nonsense.
Equally, implying that the product is the only way to fix it and the only way to do so is by buying it has to stop - especially where money changes hands or something dumb like an email sign up, file download (instant alarm bells!) or completing a survey - all of which are likely to make money for the developer, are now going to be properly crushed as tactics.
There are genuine registry cleaners and junk file removers out there. But those are the ones that work with you, not by scaring you. Plus of course, many experts argue that any kind of third-party cleaning does more harm than good, but the jury remains out on that one. µ
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