5 Star Support Security Specialist
OneCare is a free (for now) Internet service that includes
antivirus, firewall, backup and recovery, and PC-maintenance software in
a single package offering. Officially, the new program is called Windows
OneCare Live. When you read what all this program can do, I’ll bet you
agree with me when I say that I think Symantec and McAfee are a bit
nervous to say the least, especially Symantec who I’m sure is struggling
to swallow the $10.3 billion dollar pill called Veritas that it acquired
(their stock has fallen from $27.38 to $17.90 since the acquisition).
This Microsoft service consists of two components:
The entire software beta package is
available now at:
Live Safety Center web site is also up and running at this time.
The potential benefits of this package for the average computer user are
quite extensive. I will try to hit all the high points for you as we go
along. Basically, Microsoft’s new package is designed to be a
“comprehensive, integrated, automatic computer health service” according
to the OneCare web site. The software offers four major areas of
1. Computer Health Service:
There is a new icon (we’ll get to that later) installed on your Windows
taskbar as part of the package that acts as a visual “health meter” for
There is both Antivirus and a Firewall included in the package that
claims to protect from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, hackers, and other
You can directly scan files, folders and MSN Messenger attachments for
viruses or worms.
2. Backup and Restore
OneCare backup allows copying files and settings to CD, DVD or an
external hard disk.
If an external hard disk is used, OneCare backup can perform automatic
backups as part of a regular scheduled “tune-up”.
3. Automated Tune-up
Tune-up is designed to automatically take care of routine maintenance
for improved performance
Automatic scans for viruses
Defragment hard disk
Remove unnecessary files
Ensures important security updates from Microsoft are installed on time
Checks for changes in files and sends a reminder when it is time to run
4. Continual updates
OneCare updates itself automatically for viruses and also works with
Automatic updates of firewall policy
Continuous feature updates as the software evolves.
Single click check for virus or other threat updates
As you can see from the list above, this is quite a software package
from both security and functionality standpoints, not to mention ease of
use and automation. It looks like Microsoft is finally getting serious
about security for the home user. If it can do all Microsoft says it can
do, and do it well, this program could be a serious contender if priced
right. It remains to be seen how well it actually deals with current
threats as well as newly emerging malware code.
Now let’s talk about what you need for a system to run OneCare. System
requirements are fairly straightforward:
XP with service pack 2 (Home, Professional, Media Center, or Tablet
300 MHz or faster CPU clock speed
available hard disk space (on system partition)
or faster internet connection (broadband is recommended)
Readable/writable CD or DVD drive, or external hard drive (needed
for Backup and Restore functionality)
the software package, you need to be logged on as a user with
administrator privilege. Before installing, you need to be aware that
OneCare does not necessarily play well with other security software you
may have already installed on your computer. There will most certainly
be competition for system resources, and the potential for system
lock-up if you do not remove other security system software products
before installation of OneCare. During setup, OneCare will search for
known software program conflicts and warn you to uninstall them before
proceeding. The current list of known software conflicts is:
Symantec Norton Internet Security 2005
Symantec Norton Antivirus 2005
Symantec Norton System Works 2005
Macafee Internet Security Suite 2005
McAfee VirusScan 8.0/2004
Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2005
OneCare is, however, compatible with Windows XP firewall. OneCare will
augment the Windows XP firewall and make it a whole lot better.
After OneCare is installed, the instructions for use are fairly simple
and very user friendly. There is a new icon installed on the Windows
taskbar that looks like a circle with a 1 inside. The color of the icon
will change to indicate the overall status of things in your computer.
Green means all is well. Yellow means status is fair, but you usually
have one or two things to do that are not deemed critical. Red indicates
your system is at risk. This can indicate OneCare was unable to get the
latest updates, your Internet connection has been lost, or the firewall
has been turned off. In any case, immediate action on your part is
Double-clicking on the OneCare icon opens the main window from which you
can take care of most tasks with a simple mouse click or two. You can
also set your preferences, access the Help Center, find out current
features and status, and access common tasks. You can also check the
overall PC health status, and any recommended actions you may need to
take. The common tasks area also contains links for easy antivirus
updates and program updates.
Default settings for tune-up and backup are already set in the program.
The first tune-up is set for 1:00 AM as the process can take a while.
You must remember to leave the computer running for this task to be run.
After the tune-up, OneCare will check for files that may need to be
backed up, and remind you of the fact with an on-screen message display.
The default settings for tune-up and backup can be re-set by the user if
the default times do not fit into your schedule. Also, if you have no
writeable CD or DVD or external hard drive, the backup reminder feature
can be turned off. All in all, the program is very easy to use, and the
information simple to understand.
Although a beta software program at this time, it should rapidly develop
into a finished product well worth considering. If you are not running
any security software at this time (shame on you) you might want to give
this a try.
Please be advised that at this time OneCare will only run on machines
running Windows XP service pack 2. What operating systems the final
release version will be compatible with, or what the program will cost
is not known at this time. It should be interesting to watch this
program develop, and also interesting to see if the competition has
anything to say about it. A program designed to do as much as OneCare
does is quite an undertaking, especially from a programming standpoint.
Let’s hope the software giant in Redmond is up to the task, and the
firewall and antivirus programming is first rate, and updated at least
twice a week with the latest signatures. They have a lot of programmers,
but remember that antivirus and firewall software are highly specialized
areas of expertise, and require constant study on a daily basis. I am
really hopeful that Microsoft can get it all done. If they can pull this
all off, it will do a lot to help their image from a security standpoint
- an image that currently gets a black eye all to often.
Here are some links that may help you check out OneCare further for