Spyware is a general term used to describe software that performs certain actions—generally without appropriately obtaining your consent—such as:
- Collecting personal information
- Changing the configuration of your computer
If your computer is running Windows 8, you can use the built-in Windows Defender to help you detect and get rid of spyware and other malware. If your computer is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, Windows Defender removes spyware.
To get rid of viruses and other malware, including spyware, on Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.
For more information, see How to remove and avoid viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.