Vista May Overshadow Microsoft’s Live OneCare Release

If Microsoft really wanted to make a splash with the upcoming international rollout of its Live OneCare antivirus, anti-spyware, firewall and PC tune-up product, it might have picked a bad day to do it.

The new version of Live OneCare will ship on Jan. 30, which happens to be the same day Microsoft starts selling Windows Vista, its heavily-hyped new operating system. That means Live OneCare’s international debut might end up a footnote, or not mentioned at all, in most coverage.

‘Major Release’

Nevertheless, in announcing its plans for the Live OneCare (version 1.5) update, Microsoft insisted it was a “major release.”

Microsoft’s late-in-the-game attempt to compete with other established computer security software makers, including McAfee, Trend Micro and Symantec, has been available in the United States since May 2006. On Jan. 30, consumers in 16 more countries will join the fold.

“We’ve been talking about our next major release for a long time, and now we are finally making it official,” a post on Microsoft’s Live OneCare Team Blog said.

“Today we announced that Windows Live OneCare v1.5 will be rolling out to customers in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States on Jan. 30,” it continued.

Microsoft’s timing might be an attempt to have Live OneCare benefit from the coattail effect of the Vista release, suggested Jon Oltsik, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group.

“Right now those in the PC channels are not really selling boxes,” Oltsik told TechNewsWorld. “Everybody is waiting for Vista. When Vista ships, there will be an opening of the floodgates and Microsoft will announce this along with Vista.”

Live OneCare might then bask in “the halo effect from Vista,” he added.

Making a Dent

Will Live OneCare have wheels, so to speak? The service now captures about 4 percent of the PC security market, not bad for being less than a year old, Oltsik noted.

“I think it will be successful,” he said. “It will be everywhere because of Microsoft’s marketing dollars and channel muscle, and I think most consumers don’t distinguish between one security product and another. If they see a big display and it has “Microsoft” on it they’re … likely to grab it.”

The Live OneCare update supports Vista and includes a single scanning engine that will find viruses and spyware, according to Microsoft. This will boost the effectiveness of the program while other tweaks, including “more flexible file backup options” will simplify computer maintenance and security, the company said.

Subscription Offers

Live OneCare has a subscription list price of US$49.99 per year for up to three PCs, but it is often discounted by retailers. Microsoft also offers a free online system scanner that checks for security problems in PCs but offers no permanent protection.

Current OneCare subscribers will be automatically upgraded to this new version while they’re online, and, in an effort “to thank the consumers worldwide who participated in the Windows Live OneCare beta program” for the new release, Microsoft will give those folks a subscription discount.

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