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Microsoft Windows Live OneCare Released

Microsoft Windows Live OneCare is an online service that provides managed maintenance and security for consumers and small businesses. It offers protection from viruses, spyware, and phishing, helps with firewall settings, and coordinates system tune-ups and data backup.

The service’s main new feature is the OneCare Circle, which links PCs together over a wireless connection to make them manageable from a single place. OneCare Circle allows, for example, a parent to see that a child has disabled the firewall on his or her PC and to turn it back on. It also helps centralize data backup by allowing a hard drive connected to any linked machine to serve the whole home network.

The discreet service also includes the new Start Time Optimizer, which helps users load only the scheduled programs they require at startup, thus accelerating the startup process. Furthermore, it includes a “Proactive Fixes and Recommendations” the feature to help optimize PC performance, and it helps maintain wireless networking security.

Simplicity and ease of use, however, don’t necessarily make for maximum security. According to an August 2007 particular test published on AV-Comparatives.org, Microsoft Live OneCare version 1.6 ranked 14th out of 17 products tested, with a virus catch-rate of 90.37%. The top performing product in the test, AEC’s TrustPort Antivirus, caught 99.64% of the virus samples.

OneCare version 2.0 will perform better. For example, Microsoft recently opened new research centers in Europe and Australia, and to staff labs they built a world-class anti-malware team that’s composed of established industry experts.

Windows Live OneCare requires a Microsoft Live ID. It’s available through retail outlets in 17 countries and as a downloadable file.