Microsoft Launches All-in-One PC Care for Home and Small Business Networks

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 14, 2007 – Today’s families increasingly have more than one PC at home, and with Microsoft internal data suggesting the average U.S. household now owns approximately 2.5 PCs, households and small businesses have a strong need to simplify the way they provide security and care for all of their PCs. With increased mobility and the rise of the home computer network, ensuring a stable, secure computing experience has become more complex, yet important as ever before.

To address this complexity, Microsoft introduced Windows Live OneCare, one of the first software products to provide a comprehensive PC care solution. Today, Microsoft announced the next version of Windows Live OneCare, which provides even greater security for home or small offices, and delivers features that make it easy to back up data and manage multiple PCs.

PressPass spoke with Amy Barzdukas, senior director for Windows Live OneCare, about the launch of Windows Live OneCare and how it can provide customers with an easier way to manage their computers and protect their information.

PressPass: What is Windows Live OneCare?

Barzdukas: Windows Live OneCare is designed to be an all-in-one PC care solution for security and performance issues that can plague the home PC computing experience. Personal computing should be about being more productive, having fun, and having access to the information and tools that help us do what we want, without having to worry about security or performance issues.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. Ensuring that a family has a safe computing experience is becoming more complicated. It can be time consuming and cumbersome for families to configure their wireless networks and to back up important data like their digital photos—their digital memories. That’s the beauty of Windows Live OneCare. We offer one easy solution that is automatic, so maintaining and configuring PCs becomes quite simple.

In addition to using its own anti-virus and anti-phishing capabilities, Windows Live OneCare supports up to three computers on one subscription. At my house, that means one subscription covers the PC in the family room, the office, and the laptop the kids use for homework.

PressPass: Can you tell me more about this concept of PC care?

Barzdukas: The average household that owns a computer today actually has about two-and-a-half PCs and they’re using them in many different ways, both online and offline. Like in my house, one PC might be used primarily by the parents for managing family finances and storing family photos, another PC might be used by the kids for playing games and doing homework, and there could potentially be a third that’s used by the whole family, and which stores all of their music and entertainment. Any of these machines will certainly be used to access the Internet as well, and odds are that they’re also connected to each other by a wireless network.

The whole concept of PC care is designed to help these customers stay safe, keep their PCs well maintained, and protect their data automatically. Towards that end, Windows Live OneCare is designed for use by even the most non-technical user.

PressPass: How does Windows Live OneCare address the increased number of PCs?

Barzdukas: Making it easier to manage multiple PCs has been one of the primary areas of focus for us. With this launch, we are introducing the OneCare Circle, a feature that links all of the PCs together using a wireless network that’s already in place. Once linked, a person can monitor the status of all the computers on their circle through a simple “red, yellow, green” status indicator located on the system tray of the “hub” computer, which the customer can designate. From the hub computer they can also correct a lot of PC care issues throughout their entire circle with a single click. For example, suppose a child who’s playing a role-playing game thinks they can get better performance by turning off their computer’s firewall. That child’s parent can see that the firewall has been disabled and turn it back on with one click from the hub machine. I wish, of course, that this were a hypothetical situation and not something had happened in my house.

For those homes with more than one PC, the OneCare Circle also makes it easy to back up photos, financial data, music and home videos onto a single, centralized device. So moving from machine to machine with a stack of disks is no longer necessary. Nor do customers need to take a removable hard drive from machine to machine to do backup. Customers can simply plug in a hard drive to any one of their computers that is on the OneCare Circle and use that as a centralized storage device for all of their important data, whether it’s financial documents or photos.

PressPass: What are some of the other enhancements in Windows Live OneCare?

Barzdukas: In addition to simplifying the management of multiple PCs, Windows Live OneCare provides enhancements in two important areas — performance and wireless networking.

For example, Windows Live OneCare customers can use the new Start Time Optimizer to monitor what applications launch during a computer’s start-up process. Using the enhanced monthly reports they can then remove programs that are rarely used from the start-up process. For example, suppose a bookkeeper has a specific application that they only use during tax season, but which prolongs their computer’s start-up time. Start Time Optimizer allows them to remove that program from start up, and any others that they infrequently use, so their computer will start more quickly. Windows Live OneCare also has a new “Proactive Fixes and Recommendations” feature that monitors known performance issues and automatically helps resolve them before they become a problem for the consumer.

Those households and small businesses that have multiple computers frequently depend on their wireless network to access the Internet. What many people aren’t aware of is that that same wireless router also enables them to connect computers to each other and share peripheral devices. Windows Live OneCare makes it easy to connect a new printer to all the PCs on a network.

Windows Live OneCare also provides an easy way to maintain a wireless network with security. Ensuring that a network is as secure as possible from hackers or, for that matter, from your neighbors stealing bandwidth, usually requires that computers that are connected wirelessly using some sort of password or key. Windows Live OneCare makes it easy to enforce the highest level of security possible and add new computers without any hassle.

PressPass: Speaking of security, how is Microsoft working to improve the strength of Windows Live OneCare’s anti-virus features?

Barzdukas: We’re deeply committed to investing in our ongoing anti-malware efforts. 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.

It’s worth noting that Windows Live OneCare is certified by the International Computer Security Association and by West Coast Labs. And we’ve also received the VB 100 Award from Virus Bulletin. Certifications such as these demonstrate that Windows Live OneCare provides anti-malware protection that’s strong enough to protect our customers from known threats.

PressPass: How does Windows Live OneCare differ from the Microsoft enterprise security product? Is it primarily for consumers or is it appropriate for business use as well?

Barzdukas: Windows Live OneCare is designed for smaller networks and licenses up to three computers — so our primary audience is consumers and people with small businesses and home businesses. We think that all-in-one PC care, and features such as centralized backup and multi-PC management, will provide the security and ease-of-use from which both of these audiences will benefit greatly.

PressPass: What has been the industry’s response to Windows Live OneCare since it was first released?

Barzdukas: When we introduced Windows Live OneCare in 2006, we really pioneered the whole concept of PC care: covering up to three PCs with a single subscription, and combining PC protection, performance, and backup into a single service. Since that time, we continue to focus on meeting the demands of today’s consumers. We are extending our leadership in the industry by introducing multi-management features I talked about today, which builds upon the three-PC license.

And, since we’re a subscription service, all of our customers whose subscriptions are current will receive automatic upgrades. That will help them enjoy all of the new benefits that we’re introducing without having to lift a finger.