After Microsoft purchased GIANT Company Software, Inc. in 2004 (ahem, who’s giant now?), I decided I needed to test out* the Microsoft Antispyware program by giving it a chance to remove some junk, namely Bonzi Buddy.

Bonzi Buddy is actually a close relative to the infamous Clippy** and Rover in Windows XP. Built from the same Microsoft Agent cartoon-annoyance technology (and I believe the only other actual commercial use of the technology in history***), Bonzi Buddy was a digital assistant that would walk around your screen “helping” you accomplish common tasks (or singing to you). Unfortunately, this buddy was like a roommate (or not) that liked to read your mail. This software would track your activity and deliver targeted ads and push products on you based on your computer activities.

Promo image for Bonzi Buddy. Way worse than that annoying paperclip.
Promo image for Bonzi Buddy. Way worse than that annoying paperclip.

So with the new not-so-giant-anymore software installed and ready, I downloaded Bonzi Buddy’s installer and started it up. I went through the few wizards and just accepted the defaults (thereby agreeing to all the invasive default toolbars, browser adjustments, and startup setting). Finally, I clicked the last page of the wizard: Install.

Immediately, AntiSpyware prompted an alert. I chose to remove the offending software, even though that software was not yet fully installed.

For the next 7 minutes, I watched as these two tasks battled each other. As fast as Bonzi could copy files to the system, AntiSpyware removed them. At the end of the install process, I could not find a single Bonzi program files folder, registry key, or browser plugin. Apparently, Giant was on to something.

Bonzi went out of business a few months later. Microsoft’s newly acquired Antimalware application would spawn several others, including OneCare, Windows Defender, and Microsoft Security Essentials (although none of these used the original Giant engine). Starting with Windows 8, the built-in Defender app contains antimalware and antivirus, making it the first version of Windows with virus protection built-in.

 

* If you want to test your own security software without any risk, learn about the industry standard EICAR test file here.
** His real name was Clip-It, I swear.
*** In 2006, while working for a Convergys Corp. call center, I added some script to our internal intranet homepage so that the Merlin character would greet our agents with new news of the day. It was received as well as you might expect, and I have the scars to prove it.