Microsoft in talks to buy Claria/Gator? UPDATE

For the last two weeks, Microsoft has been in talks to buy a private Silicon Valley company, a move that underscores just how eager Microsoft is to catch up with Google, the search and advertising giant.

The company that Microsoft has pursued is controversial: Claria, an adware marketer formerly called Gator, and best known for its pop-up ads and software that tracks people visiting Web sites. The Gator adware has frequently been denounced by privacy advocates for its intrusiveness.

The offer price on the table as recently as Wednesday was $500 million, according to people who have been briefed on the talks.

But a person close to Microsoft said last night that the negotiations were on the verge of breaking off.

One person briefed on the deal said there was opposition within Microsoft to the acquisition.

The anti-deal group, the person said, fears the move could bring an outcry as critics portray Microsoft as a corporate Big Brother, trying to track every mouse click on the Web and profit from it.

I would respect them even less. Didn’t think it was possible…

UPDATE: MS Downgrades Claria Detections,13793423

Several sources have now confirmed that Microsoft downgraded its detections of Claria’s adware products in the latest update (#5731) to Microsoft AntiSpyware released today. Where Microsoft AntiSpyware used to detect Claria’s products and present users with a “Recommended Action” of “Quarantine,” following today’s update Microsoft AntiSpyware now presents users with a “Recommended Action” of “Ignore” (see attached screenshot). Users can still change the action to “Quarantine” or “Remove.”

While Claria’s products have not been removed from the Microsoft AntiSpyware definitions, this change is troubling, coming so close on the heels of the revelation that Microsoft has been in talks with Claria to acquire the company:

Just a coincidence…

Sigh. Sleazy but not really surprising. But part of me kind of thinks that anyone who actually uses MS’s anti-spyware tool has it coming.

By changing their name from Gator, they’e magically wiped away all past memory of the vileness. These are the spywares you are looking for. Move along.

An interesting note about Microsoft’s antispyware thing. A friend could just never clean up all the spyware on her daughter’s computer with Adaware and Spybot. No matter what, stuff came back. The Microsoft thing killed it all dead and she finally had a clean box.

That said, this new revelation is bullshit.