Windows OneCare Beta Goes Live

Microsoft is waving goodbye to Symantec and McAfee it seems. On Tuesday, the company opened the doors to its Windows OneCare Live beta, a PC protection and maintenance service that offers an antivirus and firewall, along with tune-up and backup functionality.

Any Windows XP SP2 user can now register to download the latest beta release.

Explaining the service to private beta testers earlier this year, Microsoft said, "Windows OneCare is built on the goal that protecting your PC should be easy and intuitive. The interface and workflow have been designed around one simple concept: get green and stay green. Your Windows OneCare status can be green, yellow, or red."

"Green means your status is good and Windows OneCare has not detected anything you should do to improve the overall health of your computer. Yellow means that there is an action you should take to better protect or maintain your PC's health. Red means that your computer or its contents are at risk."

Recent updates to the service, which has been given the "Live" branding to fit into Microsoft's new Windows Live lineup, added the ability to backup to an external drive, scan incoming files from MSN Messenger and perform on-demand virus detection.

The public beta release could be an ominous sign for security vendors such as Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro. Windows OneCare Live is not compatible with other antivirus software and requires it be removed. In addition, OneCare will not work with Windows Vista, raising questions about what security features the OS will natively include.

"With Microsoft's big emphasis on security in Windows Vista, OneCare incompatibility is tough to rationalize. One plausible explanation: That Microsoft will bundle similar capabilities with Windows Vista," remarked Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox.

"I wouldn't be shocked to see same kind of features found in Windows OneCare, including antivirus, as part of Vista."

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