Microsoft prices and dates OneCare service

Microsoft has revealed more details of its all-in-one PC care service dubbed OneCare Live.

Already in beta, the subscription-based package will be officially released in the US in June from retailers and via the Web. A year’s subscription will cost $49.95 and will cover up to three personal computers.

The suite will offer anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall components, as well as performance optimisation utilities and back up and restore tools. Technical support – in the form of e-mail, phone and chat – will be included as part of the package.

The automatic and self-updating service is intended to make it simpler for consumers to protect and maintain their PCs. With numerous security threats exploiting the slothfulness of consumers to patch their machines in a timely manner, Microsoft will be aiming squarely at users looking to offload responsibility for maintaining their own systems. Combined with a low price, the proposition could prove attractive to a large proportion of the Windows user base.

The Microsoft OneCare suite was first announced back in May 2005, and it went into public beta in the States in December.

The product has yet to appear in the UK, in any form, but a Microsoft speolespeeron said the company was aiming ‘to begin rolling out the service in beta for other countries beyond the US within the next year’.

‘Consumers have made it clear they need more assistance than what’s offered today, and we are excited to deliver the value of improved protection and maintenance in one comprehensive solution,’ said the general manager of Microsoft’s Technology Care and Safety Group, Ryan Hamlin. ‘Windows OneCare Live eases the frustration of protecting your PC and gives consumers greater peace of mind so they can spend less time worrying and more time doing the things they enjoy.’

Indeed, who better to protect the Windows platform than Microsoft? The existing third-party providers of anti-virus and security systems certainly have an answer. Additionally, the move will be seen as Microsoft further exploiting its hold on the Windows operating system as a means to control surrounding functionality, for example as with browser and media player technology.

With Symantec having already announced it is pulling its Sygate personal firewall products, we will await the full impact of Microsoft’s move into the desktop anti-virus and security market.

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