Microsoft Takes On Security Vendors With OneCare Service

In what looks to become a fiery security service brawl, Microsoft and Symantec are launching competing products.

While Symantec plans to debut its Norton 360 later this summer, Microsoft beat the security firm to the punch with its Wednesday release of Windows Live OneCare.

OneCare is the software giant’s all-in-one, automatic and self-updating service designed to help consumers more easily protect and maintain their PCs. Norton 360, previously codenamed Genesis, is Symantec’s version of a consumer PC security service that will include online identity theft protection, backup and PC tuneup capabilities.

“This market has always seen one-upmanship,” Basex CEO and Chief Analyst Jonathan Spira noted. “There is room for improvement on the Microsoft front, as OneCare approaches traditional security issues — like antivirus, anti-spyware, backup — very well but doesn’t address identity theft, just to name one issue.”

Racing to Market

Windows Live OneCare is designed for consumers trying to protect their computers from viruses, spyware and other threats. It also offers functions that back up data and regularly run performance maintenance tasks.

“Windows Live OneCare delivers what millions of consumers have been asking for: one source for top-to-bottom maintenance, support and performance optimization tools plus increased protection that takes the worry out of PC care,” said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft. “This ‘just take care of it’ experience enables customers to focus on what they really care about, which is to be able to sit down at their PCs and enjoy their digital lifestyles.”

Hyping OneCare

Microsoft is penetrating retail stores, like Best Buy and other chains, with an annual subscription offer of US$49.95 for up to three personal computers. Best Buy will display the OneCare product logo prominently on the Best Buy-sponsored No. 66 stock car that Jeff Green will drive in the Neighborhood Excellence 400 event this Sunday, June 4, at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.

“What the hype around Microsoft’s announcement does is heighten user awareness of the need for security, which may be the most important outcome,” Spira told TechNewsWorld. “If I were Symantec or McAfee, I would see the new rival as being good for business.”

Symantec’s Play

In a move to steal some of Microsoft’s speed, Symantec on Wednesday released details of its coming Norton 360, part of its broader vision for the next generation of online security, coined “Security 2.0.” Security 2.0 entails delivering end-to-end security for consumers, establishing trust and building confidence online.

“Online threats are sophisticated and rapidly changing. We’re committed to staying ahead of those threats and keeping consumers safe,” said Enrique Salem, senior vice president, consumer products and solutions, Symantec. “Today’s consumers want a simple solution that keeps them safe online, without having to decipher technical jargon or keep track of backups. They just want assurance that their information and activities are safe. That’s what Norton 360 will do.”

Norton 360 will integrate Symantec’s PC security and tune-up technologies with newly acquired and newly developed technology. Norton 360 will be delivered as an all-in-one service, with automatically installed updates. The service will provide data protection through automated online backup and online transaction security, where new tools will help protect consumers from phishing scams and crimeware.

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