Microsoft is to deliver an all-in-one PC health check service targeted at consumers. Windows OneCare will offer performance tuning, PC maintenance, backup and security functions via a consumer subscription service.
Key capabilities and features of Windows OneCare will include: providing automatically updated anti-virus, anti-spyware and two-way firewall protection. Windows OneCare can also automatically carry out periodic maintenance tasks such as disk cleanup, hard-drive defragmentation and file repair, options that already come as standard with Windows.
More useful is OneCare's facility to automated backup files by category onto CD and DVD, along with the option to back up all files on the system or only those that have changed since the last backup. If files are accidentally deleted or corrupted, the service is designed to restore saved versions or map them onto a new PC.
"Keeping a PC 'healthy' today can be daunting and time-consuming for the average user," Microsoft notes. Windows OneCare is initially being distributed to Microsoft workers, who'll act as guinea-pigs for the service. A public beta in the US is scheduled for some unspecified time later this year. Pricing also remains up in the air, though analysts guess it might cost around $80 per year.
In due course, One Care wiil pitch Microsoft squarely against consumer security software firms such as Symantec and McAfee. Microsoft dipped its toes into the consumer security software market with the acquisitions of Romanian anti-virus developer GeCAD Software in 2003 and anti-spyware firm Giant software in December 2004. Until now it has focused on incorporating security technologies into Windows without additional charges. So OneCare represents a significant shift of strategy.
Expect Symantec and McAfee to emphasise their pedigree in security, rather than calling in the lawyers. The bigger question is whether consumers will swallow the idea of paying for a service to deal with problems Microsoft is arguably instrumental in creating in the first place? ®
Has anyone pointed out to Microsoft, how OneCare sounds, when spoken with a comedy French accent, Inspector Clouseau-style?