With the Windows 8 release just around the corner, attention is being drawn to matters beyond cosmetic changes, and news that Microsoft has improved its security features has now emerged.
According to Aryeh Goretsky, a researcher at antivirus company ESET, Microsoft is taking a far better approach with Windows 8 than with the previous versions of its operating system in terms of anti-malware protection.
Microsoft has developed and integrated ELAM (Early Launch Anti-Malware) into its new system. This means that the first software driver to load into Windows 8 will be the driver of the user's anti-malware software.
The move represents a big step in a secure direction, as in earlier systems loading driver software was a random process, meaning that malware could potentially launch first and disable a machine's security.
"While the effectiveness of ELAM is as yet unproven, the concept behind it is fundamentally sound and it should prove to be a major deterrence to boot-time malware," stated Goretsky. "The technology, however, may need to be periodically updated to overcome existing limitations and provide additional functionality."
He further warned, "It has no ability to remove malware. ELAM is strictly a detection technology at this point." It must run alongside additional security products, such as an updated edition of Microsoft's own Windows Defender, which will come pre-installed on Windows 8.
One of the advantages of the refreshed Windows Defender is that it can be straightforwardly uninstalled, which is not the case for many anti-malware packages. This is excellent news for the many computer suppliers that make money through alliances with large anti-malware companies such as McAfee and Symantec.
Additionally, the Windows 8 operating system will come with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), which requires digitally signed firmware to be used during boot-up, in order to deter rootkits.
All of this could indeed make Windows 8 the most secure operating system we have seen.