Microsoft Flexes its Muscle by Offering First Security Firewall

Dennis Faas's picture

Three years after announcing its intent to enter the world of security software, Microsoft will be launching its new Windows OneCare Live on Thursday, June 1st, 2006.

OneCare provides users with Spyware and antivirus protection through firewall software that also offers comprehensive backup and maintenance tools for Windows PCs.

Although the functions offered by OneCare -- including all-in-one protection against undesired intruders and the regular backing-up of files to keep processing speed high -- are reason for its growing popularity, much of the hype surrounding OneCare Live comes from the software giant Microsoft's first foray into the security market. (Source:

Consumers will be able to purchase OneCare Live in stores and via an online download.

Microsoft's pricing of One Care is constructed to appeal to all levels of PC owners; for $49.95 U.S. the software can be installed on up to three computers in a home.

For users with more casual interests in security software, Microsoft has established a $19.95 U.S. discounted rate, based on annual subscription.

With the variety of pricing options, Microsoft provides stiff competition for established security vendors, such as McAfee. Further promotions from a variety of retailers selling One Care (including Amazon, Best Buy, and Circuit City) promise to bring down the price further in the coming weeks.

Thousands of testers have been pouring over the software since April, and with the popular interest, Microsoft has released a free version of OneCare Live to selected testers as part of a "perpetual beta". (Source:

Despite the hype over OneCare and months of beta tests, concerns over the effectiveness of Microsoft's security program linger. In January, CNET reported on holes in OneCare's firewall component, citing default settings that allow, applications using the Java Virtual Machine or have a digital signature to automatically connect to the web.

Quickly pointing out the issue was McAfee, perhaps the most recognized name in security software. McAfee alleged that the default settings, which allow for a bypass, "invites malicious hackers and other malware goons to exploit it."

Microsoft responded to the attacks against OneCare by assuring consumers that the firewall hole was planned to prevent Java applications from being unnecessarily blocked, and the issue itself would not present a security risk for those running OneCare. (Source:

Although other critics question why Microsoft would ask consumers to pay for software to protect the company's own operating system, retailers credit OneCare Live as an effective security measure from an established brand.

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