Spyware: antivirus or 3rd party?
It's no surprise with the advent of spyware into programs these days, and it seems more and more have it. Spyware, by definition, is embedded into the code to do profiling for various things, based on history, cache, installed programs, etc etc to report back to some company so that they can "modify to the customer's needs". That might be a bit off but nonetheless, it's not something you'll see at install time and you may find out about it through word of mouth or reading online about it, etc.
"What do I do about this and how can I check to see if I have spyware?", you say.
1: A product called Ad-Aware by Lavasoft does an *outstanding* job of detecting known spyware, displaying the location of it, and you can leave it, mark it, and/or clean it. It's highly recommended (I bought a copy) and won't let you down. Add in the fact that with the bought version, you get a monitor program that's tiny and runs in memory real-time that will detect installing spyware. I tried this and within about 1 second, it popped up with the file and the spyware. Great product and I recommend anyone to buy a copy as you won't regret it and it'll be on your short list of "Things I have to install for Windows". For those who want to know, there's a "RefUpdate" utility that you can also download for free (it's on 1.3 now) that will download the latest reference file and install it into AdAware so you'll have the latest list to check against.
2: Don't install just anything anyone gives you, regardless of what you can get for "free". A lot of p2p share programs have spyware, and there's a plethora of others out there. If you don't need it, or you would rather use a program that's a little more known, ignore these programs or at the very least, do your homework (research) on it. 5 minutes of education is priceless and might save you a lot of time.
Hope this helps a bit for those looking to get rid of spyware.