Launched earlier this year, Microsoft’s OneCare was Microsoft’s first foray into PC security since a DOS based anti-virus program from Microsoft in the days before Windows 95.
OneCare met skepticism from consumers, competitors and even some journalists who asked consumers to say ‘Microsoft OneCare’ in a French accent. Microsoft even had to suffer the embarrassment of reviews showing Microsoft OneCare to be well down the list at protecting you from viruses and removing infections if required.
But with every software release comes an upgrade, and in the case of Microsoft OneCare, their original version 1.0 product has morphed into a 2.0 beta release, available for free download.
Version 2.0 beefs up wired and wireless (Wi-Fi) security, improves the firewall making it automatic, adds a backup and restore function, improves malware detection and removal and gives you software management functions, something that families and/or small businesses with multiple computers will find useful.
Other features include being able to share a network printer, ‘defragging’ the hard drive(s) more efficiently and even online storage space to maintain a separate, ‘online’ copy of everything should you ever need it thanks to some kind of catastrophe.
As with the previous version of Microsoft OneCare, the new version is good to legally install on three computers, and sells at US $49.95, a price which is around a third cheaper than similar products offered by Symantec, McAfee and the rest of the usual suspects.
In a bid to improve OneCare’s success rate and popularity with consumers, Microsoft is openly encouraging users of the new beta 2.0 product to give Microsoft as much feedback as possible, so as to make the ‘final’ 2.0 product as polished as possible, without actually specifying with the real 2.0 will hit store shelves.
Given OneCare 1.0’s dismal ratings compared with traditional competitors, OneCare 2.0 has a lot of work to do to convince us that it’s worth using. While it remains in beta mode, we humbly suggest you steer clear of it and continue using your existing up-to-date Internet security software.
But that said, it will certainly be interesting to see just how good the final version of OneCare 2.0 is upon and soon after its release. Microsoft’s competitors know that Microsoft historically gets things right by version 3.0.
Symantec, McAfee, ZoneAlarm and all the rest have at least a year’s breathing space up their sleeves before OneCare reaches the 3.0 milestone, and will have to work even harder to keep today’s fickle and tech-savvy customers loyal – which is just the way things should be!