Picture this: You're trying to figure out why your grandmother's computer is running so slow when she mentions that an error message told her to download a $US39.95 "fixer-upper," and you realise that some rat bastard out there tricked the poor old dame into installing spyware. Doesn't that make you angry? It's certainly pissed off Microsoft, who's filed a lawsuit with Washington state against "scareware" software makers.
The Redmond giant is able to get its lawsuit off the ground because of a recent law update called the Computer Spyware Act, which not only bans illegal spyware, but any other program that misleads people into believing that their computers need to be fixed. The fake error messages sent to Windows users, some of whom have received over 200 a day, fall under that category.
Microsoft's asking for a fine of up to $US2,000 per incident, plus restitution and attorney's fees. Considering half of the customer support calls it receives are related to spyware crashes, that's a lot of money. But whether the suit will deter "scareware" purveyors is still up in the air. In 2006, Microsoft filed a similar case against the same people and won... to little effect it seems. [Dailytech]