MS shows its PC caring side

Microsoft has made its move into the security software market, with the announcement of plans to provide an antivirus subscription service by the end of this year. The OneCare service is currently being tried by the company’s staff, with a public beta due to be made broadly available later this year.

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By  Peter Branton Published  May 22, 2005

Microsoft has made its move into the security software market, with the announcement of plans to provide an antivirus subscription service by the end of this year. The OneCare service is currently being tried by the company’s staff, with a public beta due to be made broadly available later this year. Although the software giant is positioning OneCare as a solution to all sorts of PC “health issues” it’s the security features that have attracted the most attention. OneCare will provide protection against “core safety concerns such as worms, viruses and spyware,” the company said, as well as broader issues, such as guarding against performance degradation and system clutter. “Windows OneCare is the next major advance in our ongoing efforts to help keep consumers Windows-based PCs ‘healthy’ in a way that’s simple and as worry-free as possible for them,” said Ryan Hamlin, general manager of the Technology Care and Safety Group at Microsoft, in a statement announcing the new offering. “We’re designing the service so it will continually update and evolve over time, helping to ensure that our customers will have the most complete and effective protection and safety services in place every time they turn on their PC.” OneCare will be made available as a consumer subscription service, which will provide automated protection, maintenance and performance tuning, According to Microsoft, the protection element will see Windows OneCare providing automatically updated antivirus, anti-spyware and two-way firewall protection to subscribers. This is likely to see the vendor go head-to-head with the security companies, firms it has previously partnered with. The move is hardly unexpected: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced at the RSA Security conference in the US in February that his company would be launching an AV product this year (see IT Weekly 26 February - 4 March 2005). Unsurprisingly, the security firms have not been enamoured of these plans. Symantec CEO John Thompson said at the same conference that his company would be ready for the challenge: “I don’t plan to go to the Justice Department and whine about Microsoft’s monopoly,” he said. “I’d rather fight Microsoft in the market place because I’m sure we’ll whip them.” OneCare isn’t just about security, with the service also including performance and reliability tools, allowing PC owners to automatically carry out periodic maintenance tasks such as disk cleanup, hard-drive defragmentation and file repair. For backup capabilities, it allows for automated backup of files, either to back up all files on the system or only those that have changed since the last backup.

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