Malwarebytes Pro provides symbiotic security

If your computer has ever been crippled by malicious software, there's a good chance you came to know Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. The free version has been downloaded from over 100 million times (and at least a dozen times by this writer.)

The software is so good at removing entrenched viruses, spyware, Trojans, keystroke loggers, password stealers and other threats that support technicians for other security products have been known to use or recommend Malwarebytes when confronted with severely-infected PCs. The software will usually succeed when attempts to use other removal tools prove futile.

"Malwarebytes is like a SWAT team," says executive VP and COO Marcus Chung. "We are very good at what we do, and our job is to go in, get the job done, and get out." More than one million new users every month will attest to that, along with the company's success, which has been fueled almost exclusively by word-of-mouth.

Goodwill is great, but the "freemium" business model relies on users' eventually opting for a full-featured, paid version of the freeware. To this end, the free edition of Malwarebytes includes a 14-day trial of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro. The latter offers real time protection, malicious website blocking, automatic updates, and scheduled scans.

Malwarebytes, however, does not want you to abandon your current security software for the Pro version. Instead, the software is designed to co-exist peacefully with offerings from Symantec, Kaspersky Labs, McAfee, Sophos, Avira, Panda, and others. "Working in tandem with existing AV software provides a layered approach," says Chung. "Our software positions itself to catch what other products miss."

The A-V software giants evidently regard co-existence with Malwarebytes as a good thing. Chung says cooperation from the major players is not uncommon. As a result, false positives, blue screens, or compatibility issues are extremely rare. The company also relies on a worldwide community of dedicated malware defenders to stay ahead of today's increasingly inventive attacks.

Founded in 2004, Malwarebytes is headquartered in San Jose, CA. Its flagship product began as a support tool, but in an era when signature-based AV products were the norm, the superiority of behavior-based, heuristic malware detection quickly led to the company's founder being flooded with requests for copies. The rest, as they say, is history.

A copy of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro for one PC sells for $24.95. The good news is it's a perpetual license. There are no renewal fees. You receive updates at no charge for as long as you own your computer.

For more information about both the freeware and Pro versions of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, visit

Should you buy or rent the latest version of Microsoft Office?

Since the home and business versions of Microsoft Office 365 have gone live, several viewers have emailed me asking whether they should buy this new, Web-based offering or conventional Microsoft Office 2013.

In a nutshell, the decision to buy Office 365 or Office 2013 is a question of rent vs. own. Office 365 is a consumer-oriented cloud service that can be a good deal for families or individuals with multiple PCs and devices. If you only have one PC, however, you might do better buying Office 2013.

For example, subscription-based Office 365 Home Premium costs $100 per household per year and lets you install the cloud-based software on up to 5 devices (Windows PCs, Macs, Windows phones, Surface tablets, etc.) The suite includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher, plus a streamed version of Office, called Office on Demand, 20GB of SkyDrive storage, 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month, and perpetual upgrades for the life of the subscription.

Office 365 Small Business Premium is a subscription plan for small business. Pricing is $150 per user per year and covers up to 5 users, affording each user so many devices. The suite includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher, Lync, and InfoPath. Also included are Office on Demand, shared calendars, a 25GB inbox in Exchange Online, 10GB plus 500 MB per user in SharePoint Online, public-facing and intranet web site capabilities with custom domains, and perpetual upgrades for the life of the subscription.

By way of contrast, Office Home & Student 2013 is not a subscription. Microsoft refers to this license type as "perpetual." For $140, you can install the software on only one PC. The suite includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. With previous Office versions, could install the software on up to 3 PCs. Those days are gone. Worse, if you upgrade to another PC, you cannot transfer your copy of Office 2013 to your new computer.

Office Home & Business 2013 is also a perpetual license, but one that costs $220 for a single PC. The suite includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook, but the same transfer restrictions apply.

If you go all the way and opt for Office Professional 2013, you will be looking at $400 for a single PC, and again, this license cannot be transferred. The suite includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher.

Office on Demand allows you to use Office on a PC where Office isn't installed. A virtualized instance of Office can be downloaded and run on almost any Windows PC. The host can be a friend's computer, a computer at a cyber cafe, or a PC in a hotel lobby. It sounds cool, but it's slo-o-w and should be regarded as something strictly for emergencies.

If you are an individual with multiple devices or a family that uses Office, Microsoft makes it hard not to go the subscription route. Beyond the cost savings, a subscription assures that you will always be using the latest version. With a perpetual license, you will stay with the Office version you buy until you spring for an upgrade.

Still, there are negatives with a subscription. Cloud-based services require Internet access and can sustain disruptions when cloud availability falters. The security of documents stored in the cloud also requires a leap of faith, regardless of what cloud providers claim.

Furthermore, the assertion that Office 365 better serves the needs of those with multiple devices is also questionable, because no support for iOS- or Android-powered devices currently exists. Keep this in mind unless you own a Windows phone and/or a Windows 8 tablet. Office 365 does support desktops and notebooks that run the Mac OS, however.

One thing is clear. Microsoft has responded to the challenge presented by Google Docs with a major paradigm shift. The days of buying Office off the shelf at the computer store are numbered, and I, for one, can't say that I'm too thrilled by this new direction.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2013, visit