Microsoft Tests OneCare Beta for Vista
Microsoft has released a beta of Windows Live OneCare version 1.5, which most notably adds support for Windows Vista. The original iteration of the PC protection and maintenance suite was only compatible with Windows XP.
OneCare, available online and at retail outlets, includes antivirus, anti-spyware and PC tuning and backup tools, along with free support for $49.95 USD per year. The package falls under a new class of all-in-one utilities being offered by security vendors such as McAfee and Symantec, as well as AOL.
New features in the new beta include international language support and the ability to backup data to a networked PC or USB drive. Microsoft has also improved integration between the suite's antivirus and anti-spyware functionality and Windows, especially Vista. As a result, however, the Redmond company has drawn the ire of some partners.
Symantec and McAfee recently complained to the European Union that new security features in Windows Vista will give Microsoft an advantage over third party vendors. Because Microsoft develops the operating system, critics say, it can better integrate and promote its own security offerings such as OneCare and Windows Defender.
In particular, Symantec and McAfee are unhappy about a new feature called PatchGuard, which is designed to prevent malicious software such as rootkits from modifying critical system files in Windows Vista. The feature, however, also has the side effect of locking out security vendors that need such low-level kernel access to be able to detect and prevent security threats.
Microsoft disputed such claims, saying it provides the same details of Windows' internals to partners that it utilizes itself. Another security vendor, Sophos, said the complaints were overblown, noting that security software does not need low-level access to the Windows kernel in order to function properly.
In any case, Microsoft has shown no sign of backing off the decision to develop its own security solutions for Windows. Windows Live OneCare 1.5 is expected to be released early next year alongside the arrival of Vista. Beta testers can download a free copy that will function for 90 days, and current OneCare customers can upgrade to the 1.5 beta free of charge.