March 9, 2006 1:53 PM PST
Anti-spyware added to beta of Microsoft's OneCare
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OneCare marks Microsoft's long-anticipated entry into the consumer antivirus market. The product combines antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall software with backup features and several tune-up tools for Windows PCs. It will be sold online and in stores, starting in June, Microsoft has said.
As OneCare hits the homestretch, Microsoft is putting the final touches on the product. The "beta refresh" released Thursday adds anti-spyware functionality to the software, the one main feature that wasn't yet part of the beta product. The anti-spyware features come from Windows Defender, Microsoft's anti-spyware application that's also in beta.
The integration of anti-spyware in OneCare isn't completely done--the usability and ease of management could be better, Yoav Schwartz, OneCare's lead program manager, wrote on a Microsoft corporate blog Thursday. "As Windows Defender comes out of beta, you'll see the level of integration improve," he wrote.
Aside from the addition of spyware detection, Microsoft also made a host of smaller changes to improve the stability and speed of the security product, Schwartz wrote. Furthermore, the name of the product was changed from Windows OneCare Live to Windows Live OneCare, to better fit with Microsoft's other Live branded services.
Users might also notice that the refreshed beta no longer has a beta tag in the user interface. This doesn't mean, however, that the product is now out of the testing stages, Schwartz wrote. "Dropping the beta tag simply means we're getting closer to final availability," he wrote.
Microsoft announced its plans for OneCare in May 2005. Invited testers have been trying it out since last July, and a public beta was released late last year. About 170,000 people are testing OneCare. The final version is due in June and will cost $49.95 a year for use on up to three PCs. As a thank-you, testers can get a discounted rate of $19.95 per year for the product if they sign up in April, Microsoft has said.