Microsoft releases Windows Live OneCare 2.0

Microsoft on Thursday officially released Windows Live OneCare 2.0, which has been in beta testing since July.

Windows Live OneCare is an online service that provides managed maintenance and security for consumers and small businesses. It offers protection from viruses, spyware, and phishing, helps with firewall settings, and coordinates system tune-ups and data backup.

"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, in a statement. "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 service's main new feature is the OneCare Circle, which links PCs together over a wireless connection to make them manageable from a single place. OneCare Circle allows, for example, a parent to see that a child has disabled the firewall on his or her PC and to turn it back on. It also helps centralize data backup by allowing a hard drive connected to any linked machine to serve the whole home network.

The service also includes the new Start Time Optimizer, which helps users load only the programs they require at startup, thus accelerating the startup process. In addition, it includes a "Proactive Fixes and Recommendations" feature to help optimize PC performance, and it helps maintain wireless networking security.

Simplicity and ease of use, however, don't necessarily make for maximum security. According to an August 2007 test published on, Microsoft Live OneCare version 1.6 ranked 14th out of 17 products tested, with a virus catch-rate of 90.37%. The top performing product in the test, AEC's TrustPort Antivirus, caught 99.64% of the virus samples.

Presumably, OneCare version 2.0 will perform better. "We're deeply committed to investing in our ongoing anti-malware efforts," said Barzdukas in an interview conducted by Microsoft's public relations department and posted on the company's site. "For example, we recently opened new research centers in Europe and Australia, and to staff our labs we've built a world-class anti-malware team that's composed of established industry experts."

Windows Live OneCare requires a Microsoft Live ID. It's available through retail outlets in 17 countries and as a downloadable file.

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