Microsoft takes OneCare security suite live

Redmond (WA) - Slightly ahead of schedule, Microsoft today released the final version of its first contender in the commercial security software segment: Windows Live OneCare includes a software bundle that promises to defend computers against common malware threats as well as free support for users that need advice in protecting their system or removing a virus.

Microsoft's security suite goes head to head with current leading security software packages such as Symantec's Norton Internet Security or McAfee's Internet Security Suite by offering similar functionality that tightly integrates with the Windows operating system.

In addition to an anti-virus package, a managed firewall and anti-spyware protection, Microsoft has added a few PC tuning and backup tools to OneCare. At first sight, Microsoft's offer does not stand out from the competition and may even look a bit thin, especially when compared to the comprehensive information Symantec provides on its website. However, it may be very well the simplicity and the fact that Microsoft has created a seamless connection between the operating system, the Internet and its new security suite that can attract customers.

OneCare also reshapes the pricing of existing security software models. Instead of charging $70 per year such as Symantec and McAfee, Microsoft charges only $50 for its package and throws in support via phone for free. McAfee offers a similar service, while Symantec charges $30 per support inquiry. In addition, OneCare can be used on up to three computers; most competitive products are limited to just one system.

Of course, the level of security provided by OneCare will have to be determined in the months to come. And it is not just the speed and quality of service of the competition Microsoft will have to match, it will be also the security of the OneCare package itself. Just like Windows and the Internet Explorer, OneCare is likely to become an attractive target for hackers in itself.