PC Satisfaction Brings Progress, Concern

The bell has sounded for round two of Microsoft's PC Satisfaction beta. Testers who bitterly complained of serious performance issues will find significant headway has been made toward resolve slumping system performance.

The Redmond development team has liberally applied spit and polish to each facet of this build, as it trudges along towards a final release - one that is not without a touch of controversy.

PC Satisfaction includes a variety of services that dwell beyond the boundaries of Microsoft's usual product offerings. These include: anti-virus scanning, a self updating firewall, programmatic backups and the latest updates from Windows Update.

BetaNews has learned that PC Satisfaction's firewall is Redmond homebrew, an internally developed service that goes well beyond Windows XP's rudimentary Internet Connection Firewall (ICF). This week's beta release covers a growing list of common applications that would necessitate interaction with a firewall.

Following news of the MSBlast worm spreading across the Internet over the past few days, Microsoft has decided to alter its default security settings for XP. ICF will now be enabled by default out of the box.

Another issue often plaguing Windows customers is the all too common run-in with computer viruses. Again, PC Satisfaction yields a remedy.

Contrary to initial assumptions, the antivirus code in the PC Satisfaction beta is not from GeCad, the software vendor Microsoft intends to purchase. Instead, published sources say the technology is licensed from Command Software.

Adding to the confusion, McAfee has told BetaNews the core is actually built by F-Secure.

Although innocuous on its face, the PC Satisfaction beta program has irked Microsoft partners traditionally aligned with Redmond to provide security services and utilities for its operating systems.

As Microsoft nurtures its own secure business unit under the umbrella of the Windows division, a quiet apprehension lingers.

"Interesting thing; They were asking us a bunch of questions months back about AV (i.e. DAT file update method, how frequently should an AV company update DATs, etc.) and we thought it was due to our partnership," one vendor who asked to remain anonymous told BetaNews. "Then, lo and behold, out pops PC Satisfaction. Coincidence?"

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