Interview With BillP, Creator of WinPatrol

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Interview With BillP, Creator of WinPatrol

Postby TeMerc » Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:04 pm

As part of an ongoing series, called One-on-One, over at COU, I sat down with BillPStudios, as he goes by in our very own forums, and his own for long chat and Q&A.

Hope you enjoy it.

**********************************************

On a recent trip back to New York, for a high school reunion, and to visit some family and friends, I had the pleasant opportunity to sit down and chat wilth Bill Pytlovany, the man behind Scotty the Watchdog, of WinPatrol fame.

We spent a couple of hours chatting away as we spoke about WinPatrol, his time at AOL and some other things we had in common, namely, spyware, or, mysteryware as Bill likes to call it.

Truth be told, I could have spent my entire time in upstate NY with Bill, an extremly friendly, and interesting man.

I met his lovely wife, and one of his grandkids too.

Bill resides in a lovely little town that goes by the name of Scotia.

Following is a series of questions I posed to Bill, and he was more than happy to answer and discuss them with me.

TeMerc wrote:How and when did you decide to get involved in the world of ad\spy\mal\mystery\grey-wares(insert your own word already) detections?

  • BillP:
    My initial entry into this segment of the industry was security related. The term Spyware was special clothing worn by Man from U.N.CL.E. WinPatrol was initially created in response to a program created for “script kiddies” to steal other people’s AOL passwords. A “Script Kiddie” is young hacker wannabe with no real life, no real technical knowledge but gets online to trade warez and tools created by others.

    The first version of WinPatrol released in 1997 was free and able to catch anything that was added to your traditional startup locations. The free version was something I called Birthdayware. Every year on my birthday a message would pop up inviting users to send a birthday Email to me if they liked WinPatrol.

    Through the years BillP Studios has been in high demand by companies such as Gateway, America Online, Microsoft, Epson and Capital Cities ABC(Now Disney). We specialized in unique utilities and programs that focused on convergent technologies between TV’s, PC’s and the Internet. WinPatrol was just something I did on the side for online friends and family. Thanks to the encouragement of our users and support from our PLUS members I’m now devoting full time to fighting spyware.
TeMerc wrote:What is your experience with windows\MS products, and how do they help with the development of WinPatrol?

  • BillP:
    I started to program Windows immediately after Windows 3.0 was released and I had a hunch it might catch on. At the time the challenge was always to get your program to provide some kind of functionality that Windows wasn’t originally designed to do. Everyone shared their tricks freely and published their source code. I spent many years learning about the internal workings of the Windows OS. The key to WinPatrol’s advantage is the understanding how other programs communicate with Windows and detecting what programs aren’t playing by the rules. Any program can monitor the registry but the secret to WinPatrol’s efficiency is evaluating what changes really matter.
TeMerc wrote:How long did it take to develop WinPatrol and what were your primary goals with it?

  • BillP:
    WinPatrol has been a labor of love for the last eight years although it has only been a full time project for the last year. Aside from safety my primary goal has always been education. I wanted a small, single program that allowed me to know what was running on my computer and why. While new versions of Windows encouraged the use of long descriptive file name, Microsoft continued to use filenames like cftmon.exe, lsass.exe or Dumprep.exe. WinPatrol sheds a little light on the mystery of what your computer is doing.
TeMerc wrote:What do you see as the biggest challenge facing conventional 'scanners' and how do you think WinPatrol differs? And what more does it offer, especially in the 'Plus' version?

  • BillP:
    Scanners don’t really provide complete protection but they’re useful in helping to cleanup a system. Scanners are typically slow and require previous knowledge of a malicious program. Scanners use definition or reference files that need to be updated daily if not more often. WinPatrol offers protection from any new threats. It’s not necessary to update the WinPatrol software regularly. Instead, we can update the information in our PLUS database without making changes on anyone’s computer.
TeMerc wrote:What plans are in the future for Scotty\WinPatrol?

  • BillP:
    While WinPatrol is popular and has a large following he still requires users to stop and read what the screen says. I’d like to take the innovation of WinPatrol together with what we’ve learned and create solutions for any computer user regardless of their interest in how their computer works.

    Scotty has a new feline friend capable of catching sneaky little varmints that might want to live in your computer. I hope to announce Scotty’s new friend by the end of the year.
TeMerc wrote:Where do you see the next 'big trend' in malware writers turning their, um 'talents' to, its been said RSS is the next step.

  • BillP:
    I hate to give anyone any ideas but I think malware writers will continue to stay busy for many years to come. I’m afraid we’re going to start seeing unwanted programming sneak into all kinds of non-PC devices. Cell phones, MP3 Players, cable boxes and DVR’s are all ripe for abuse as they start connecting to a global network.
TeMerc wrote:How did a dog come to be your icon , and how did Scotty gets his\her name, and how long have you been a dog fancier?

  • BillP:
    For most of my life I’ve lived in a quaint little village in upstate NY called Scotia. It has a long Scottish and Dutch heritage. Scotty was created as a tribute to my hometown of Scotia. Most people are surprised to find out I’ve never actually owned a Scottish terrier. At the current time I don’t actually have a dog but if I did, it would probably be a nice big collie.
TeMerc wrote:Finally, in the little spare time you have, what do you enjoy doing most?

  • BillP:
    To date I have four of the most wonderful grand kids anyone could ask for. I’ve done my share of programming with a small child on my lap and my spare time is usually spent coloring, playing with Thomas the Tank Engine, swimming in the pool, riding bikes and reading bedtime stories.


Well, that was my time with Bill, at least a small part. Below are a couple of pix I snapped. My bad, I did not get a pic of Bill and I. But you can be sure the next time I'm in NY, I'll be making time to visit again, if he deems me worthy of his precious time.

Bill @ his desk:
Image

Scotty Shrine:
Image
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Postby JeanInMontana » Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:43 am

[] [] Very nice article Tom. We here at TIC are so very lucky to have BillP as a member. I love WinPatrol and it is always in my list of prevention programs I recommend to those hapless souls we love to help. Scotty has been faster to alert than any AV more than once. ^^<
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Postby Champion_Munch » Tue Sep 06, 2005 11:38 pm

Wow, how awesome! :D

I also love WinPatrol, it has to be one of the best free apps available. :)

with regards

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Postby Phantom Bronco » Wed Sep 07, 2005 6:03 am

JeanInMontana wrote:[] [] Very nice article Tom. We here at TIC are so very lucky to have BillP as a member. I love WinPatrol and it is always in my list of prevention programs I recommend to those hapless souls we love to help. Scotty has been faster to alert than any AV more than once. ^^<


Wow! Too cool! :D
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Postby Last Son » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:14 am

Great read, and very interesting with it!
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Postby clif_notes » Sat Sep 10, 2005 11:58 am

Hi all,

Excellent interview Tom. Here's a sneak preview of a review of this (newsletter due out tomorrow). I don't say much, no need. The interview says it all.

http://freewarewiki.pbwiki.com/index.ph ... trolAuthor
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Thanks TeMerc

Postby BillPStudios » Thu Sep 15, 2005 7:23 am

Thank you for all your kind comments and support.
I was very pleased to meet and chat with TeMerc and I'm now convinced his true calling might be as a digital photographer.

My lovely wife Cindi gets full credit for how well the garden or the Scotty Shrine looks. I take responsibility for the messy office. The other end was much worse.

I've been so busy I had forgotten that the interview was posted until my news clipping service picked up a mention of WinPatrol in this weeks Clif Notes. 8)

I'll tag this thread so if anyone has any follow up questions regarding comments I made in the interview feel free to post them here.


Thanks again,
Bill

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Postby clif_notes » Thu Sep 15, 2005 10:06 am

Hi Bill,

What? I had no idea that any news service thought my rag was worth looking at. LOL

One quick question in two parts, do you have many corporate clients for the full version of WinPatrol, and have you ever considered making the full version free for home users?

Tell Cindi that she has one awesome garden there.

Best wishes to you, Cindi and the grandkids.
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Thanks Clif

Postby BillPStudios » Thu Sep 15, 2005 11:11 am

Hey Clif,

I'll pass your comments on to Cindi. She has become an expert on Day Lilies which grow well here in upstate NY. She has a number of varieties which add color even on the hottest days of summer.

I have very few corporate clients because there is no WinPatrol national sales team. We do have a few that have purchased site licenses for the PLUS version. A couple are well known organizations. We also have companies who request the free version in a corporate environment. We allow it as long as they promise to notify each user that they installed it, not us. We've also provided PLUS site licenses for some non-profits. The kids attending Hole in the Wall Camps have WinPatrol PLUS installed.

I doubt I'll ever be able to provide the full WinPatrol free to all home users. I do expect to continue making the free version full featured. You'll never see any time limits or nag screens. It will always have the functionality to remove threats and not try to scare people into upgrading. I don't check on membership status when I provide personal responses to Email questions. I like providing as much as possible for free.

I look at the differences in WinPatrol PLUS as bonus features. I've tried shareware in the past and it never worked well. PLUS memberships are for life so it's not going to make me a millionaire. Our PLUS supporters provide enough incentive for me to continue to make improvements to the software. They also pay our researcher to build our online database so it we can explain what programs are doing in human terms.


Thanks again,
Bill

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Postby clif_notes » Fri Sep 16, 2005 10:00 am

Thankyou for your answer Bill.

I am only surprised that more companies haven't been using WinPatrol. I understand your reasons for offering WinPatrol the way that you do. It all makes sense, and I'm sure I'm not alone in quietly saying thanks to the author of WinPatrol for helping to keep our PC's safe.

Ok, a little more loudly now, THANKS BILL!
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