Microsoft to offer PC care package for $50 per year

Redmond (WA) - Microsoft announced that it will be rolling out the commercial version of its OneCare Live service in June of this year. Designed to compete with similar products typically offered by anti-virus companies, Microsoft hopes to gain traction with and extended service that is seamlessly integrated into Windows.

OneCare Live, which is currently offered as a free service via Microsoft's beta program, will be priced at $50 per year. Beta customers who sign up for the service between April 1 and April 30 will receive a first year discount of $30.

The package will include anti-virus and firewall protection and, similarly to common anti-virus offerings, will offer a built-in auomatic update feature. The current Anti-Spyware software will be added under the name "Windows Defender." Additionally, Microsoft's OneCare Live includes "Performance Plus" for PC tuneups, "Backup and Restore" to ensure a PC's functionality can be fully restored in the case of an emergency and "Help and Support," which will provide users with technical support through phone, email and chat with no additional charge.

The initial price of OneCare live is slighlty higher than what Symantec, Microsoft's main competitor in this field, offers. However, the fact that the plan covers not one, but three computers and that technical support is free, highlights the firm's aggressive pricing approach. Symantec, for example, charges between $40 and $70 per support inquiry - which can become a pricey adventure in the case of a serious virus attack.

According to Microsoft, "several hundred thousand" users have been involved in the beta program of OneCare Live.