New MS OneCare Aims to Bring Pro Management to Small Networks

To help combat increasingly complicated home PC and networking environments, Microsoft has released the second major version to its Windows Live OneCare, a subscription service that helps manage security updates and performance of home and small-business PCs.

Thirty-five percent of U.S. adults now own more than one home computer, according to Microsoft-sponsored research, and 50 percent of adults who have a home computer and wireless network are concerned about the system’s security. Perhaps even more troubling than security is the fact that only 24 percent of adults who have a home computer have backed up the digital photos stored on their computer within the past month.

Furthermore, the Redmond, Wash., software giant says consumers understand they need to take care of their PCs and home network, but they have limited awareness of the required tasks.

Enter Windows Live OneCare

“Customers have told us they want an all-in-one solution for PC care that is simple and easy to use across all the PCs in their home,” said Amy Barzdukas, senior director of Windows Live OneCare at Microsoft.

“Windows Live OneCare helps address this need by providing a comprehensive set of security and performance tools while adding new features, including multi-PC management, printer sharing support and centralized backup options.”

The idea is to provide a hassle-free method of managing home PCs and their networks, Microsoft said. In addition to centralized backups and printer sharing support, the solution provides antivirus protection and assistance setting up wireless configurations. It also optimizes PCs for better performance and uses automated updating to keep Windows and other Microsoft applications up to date by enabling the automatic update feature of Microsoft Update.

Easy to Understand

“I think that the biggest value that Windows Live One Care offers is the approach they take to security. Many consumer security products are very intrusive and complex. The have constant pop-ups and complex configuration menus that most consumers don’t understand,” Van Baker, a vice president of research for Gartner, told TechNewsWorld.

“Consumers are often asked to make choices that they do not understand, using terminology that is cryptic at best. Windows Live OneCare has a different approach. The product is quiet, does not surface a bunch of cryptic pop-ups, and it relies instead on a ‘green light, yellow light, red light’ metaphor that assures the consumer that they are good-to-go in most cases,” he explained.

In addition, Baker notes, the new and improved 2.0 version of OneCare lets a household or a small business designate its own IT person to manage the other PCs — up to three per license, which retails for US$49.

Fills the Gap

There’s a security and management gap in the two- to five-computer networking space, both in small businesses and home networks, Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. Windows Live OneCare aims to fill that gap.

“One of the things that survey respondents, when talking about Windows, have wanted is integrated anti-malware support and this is the closest thing to that,” Enderle said.

“In my use, it is currently the least disruptive of the [related] offerings. … For those wishing for some easy-to-use centralized control over the security in their home or very small office, this could very well be a must-have,” he added.

Windows Live OneCare is available at local computer stores and online in 17 countries and in seven languages. Users can download a free trial.

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