REDMOND, Wash., July 12, 2007 – Security threats from viruses, malware and spyware continue to grow and show no sign of abating. Despite this fact, most consumers and small businesses today are using PCs without basic security protection technologies such as anti-virus and anti-spyware software. In some cases, they may have these protections in place, but are not keeping them up to date, or performing basic maintenance and performance-enhancing tasks, such as disk defragmentation, or backing up those important files.
To help consumers and small businesses stay better protected and manage their computers, Microsoft has introduced beta 1 of Windows Live OneCare 2.0. PressPass spoke with Gina Narkunas, lead product manager for Windows Live OneCare, to learn more about the features in this next version of OneCare, and how consumers and small businesses will benefit.
PressPass: What obstacles prevent consumers and small businesses from getting the protection they need, and how does Windows Live OneCare help overcome those obstacles?
Narkunas: Many factors contribute to the difficulties in staying protected, but perhaps the biggest challenge is the dynamic nature of technology – always having to monitor for new threats and implement whatever countermeasures are necessary to protect against those threats. What consumers and small business owners need is a simple yet comprehensive solution to help keep their PCs “healthy.”
To help meet this need, last year Microsoft Corp. introduced Windows Live OneCare. Windows Live OneCare provides a comprehensive, automatic and self-updating PC care service, so users can have greater peace of mind about protecting and maintaining their PCs.
Windows Live OneCare also helps to ease the security and management burden for consumers and small businesses by making it easy to manage multiple PCs, adding new options for data backup and providing enhanced security in a home or small office.
PressPass: What changes will customers see in version 2.0?
Narkunas: In Windows Live OneCare 2.0, Microsoft sought to help consumers better manage their home environment. Microsoft internal research has shown that most homes now have at least two computers. This means that in addition to managing PC security and maintaining sufficient performance levels, consumers most likely now need to do the extra work associated with connecting devices and securing networks. To further redefine and extend the concept of PC care, Microsoft added features to Windows Live OneCare such as multi-PC and home-network management, as well as printer sharing, to help address the modern home environment.
In addition, this new version establishes a foundation to better address the needs of small businesses that must protect and maintain a number of PCs, but may not have the resources for onsite IT support. To help solve this problem, Microsoft added centralized backup to Windows Live OneCare, so local backup on a small-business network is a simple step instead of a time-consuming hassle.
PressPass: Can you explain a bit more about the home environment features you mentioned?
Narkunas: Windows Live OneCare 2.0 will include features that are designed to simplify the management and use of multi-PC environments. For example, the new multi-PC and home network management feature will help ease the management of multiple-PC environments by providing a single navigation bar for monitoring the security and maintenance of networked computers. It will also enable one-click actions to resolve issues among computers within a home PC network. And Windows Live OneCare will support printer-sharing, so it’s easier to connect printers to local networks and allow all users in the vicinity to use the same printer.
PressPass: Will Windows Live OneCare 2.0 include any features to protect photos, music and other digital content?
Narkunas: Actually, security intrusions are not the only cause of data loss. Accidental deletion and disk failure also pose a threat to digital photos, music, financial data, software and other important electronic assets created as part of the digital lifestyle. In response, Windows Live OneCare will make it easy for consumers and small businesses to back up files to CD, DVD, locally networked computers, external hard drives and most USB-enabled storage devices.
For example, a new, centralized backup feature will enable users to configure and monitor backups for all PCs covered under the same Windows Live OneCare subscription, with the data from all PCs backed up to a central location. And along those same lines, customers will be able to keep precious photos safe from theft or accidental loss by backing them up to an off-site location in Windows Live Folders, which will be available at an extra cost.
PressPass: Are there any new features in Windows Live OneCare 2.0 to help manage computer performance?
Narkunas: Yes. Windows Live OneCare 2.0 will include several new features that deliver PC tune-ups to help maintain computer performance and reliability, and that ease management in a multiple-PC environment. For example, a new ‘proactive fixes and recommendations’ feature will look at the specific configuration of the user’s system and make proactive fixes and recommendations to improve the computing experience. This feature will operate much like the security advisories that Windows Live OneCare sends to users, informing them of significant new worms, viruses or other security concerns, and suggested steps to take in response.
Windows Live OneCare 2.0 will also include a new start-time optimizer, which removes rarely used applications from the start-up menu to speed up a computer’s boot time – one of the noticeable areas of frustration for PC users. Customers will also benefit from monthly reports in the Windows Live OneCare dialog box that summarize key activities and recommended actions for all PCs in a local network.
As with Windows Live OneCare 1.0, v. 2.0 will automate tedious but important janitorial tasks such as disk cleanup and disk defragmentation to help keep PCs running at peak performance. Virus scanning will also be included in Windows Live OneCare 2.0. Performance Plus features will run a complete virus and spyware scan to check the entire computer for malicious programs. If any infected files are found, Windows Live OneCare will automatically help prevent harm to consumers’ computers by blocking access to the file until they decide what to do with it.
And of course, Windows Live OneCare 2.0 will still include all the highly effective protection features to which customers have grown accustomed.