Microsoft Betas OneCare Live Security

Microsoft is testing its new comprehensive security software and service, dubbed OneCare Live, promising a simpler solution to anti-virus, firewall and backup, but has not released pricing for the new product due out in final form next year.

The software giant said the comprehensive PC security service — rumored for months in the security community — goes along with its recently announced Windows Live service, and represents its first foray into consumer security, where antivirus players such as Symantec and McAfee dominate.

Anti-spyware company Webroot’s vice president of threat research, Richard Stiennon, praised the move toward simpler security for Windows users, but questioned whether Microsoft was looking to secure users as much as secure dollars from the lucrative security software market.

“Microsoft vulnerabilities and the entire virus eco-culture is a great business opportunity, but not for Microsoft,” Stiennon told TechNewsWorld, conceding his anti-spyware company and the bulk of the security community’s market comes from Microsoft products.

Test Under Fire

Microsoft indicated that thousands of users have been testing the one-stop-shop security service, which is tied to the company’s other “Live” offerings that are basically service-based software.

But even as Microsoft heralded its plans to protect more Windows users, a variant of the Sober virus was widely seeded and spreading among Windows and other users, many of whom fell for the bogus government warning or promise of pictures — another example of successful social engineering.

Stiennon said the outbreak indicates there are still a large number of unpatched, unprotected Windows systems being compromised.

For Free or Fee

Stiennon also indicated while Microsoft’s OneCare Live might be able to help curb the number of users at risk, it depends largely on how Microsoft makes the service available.

“I’m supportive of Microsoft trying to do something like this, it just needs to be introduced at the right price, which is free,” he said.

While Microsoft has not indicated whether or how much it will charge for OneCare Live, Stiennon doubted whether the company would provide the software and service for free and look for revenue in support.

“They’re doing the right thing for probably the wrong reason,” he said.

Market Impact

VeriSign iDefense senior engineer Ken Dunham told TechNewsWorld that while Microsoft has the resources to provide an effective, one-stop security service, the company’s solution remains unproven.

While Dunham was critical of Microsoft’s failed bid at antivirus protection a couple of years ago, he said Microsoft’s more recent acquisition strategy may prove to be more fruitful.

“Now, they’ve bought companies that were reasonably successful in their own right,” he said. “That’s a much better strategy.”

Nevertheless, stressing the possible impact of Microsoft’s OneCare Live on the overall security software market, Dunham warned the service may prevent other, smaller players from competing.

“It has the potential to be very significant,” he said. “It has the potential to whittle away at the innovators that succeed by being gap providers.”

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