For those of you who have depended on Norton or McAfee to provide you with protection from viruses and other internet nasties you now have a new option. You probably will have heard of the company that has entered into competition with the market leaders in internet security - it's Microsoft.
Microsoft has just launched their Windows OneCare service which offers anti-virus, anti-spyware, two-way firewall, back-up and restore and system tune ups for $49.99 per year for up to 3 PCs. PC Medic signed up for their 90-day free trial earlier today and I can confirm that the sign-up, download and installation is a painless process that took about 15 minutes. Once installed the system will assign you a colour-coded status depending on what it finds on your PC.
A green icon means your status is Good. Protection Plus features like antivirus and firewall are up to date, your computer is not due for a tune-up or a backup, and there are no actions to take requiring your attention. Windows Live OneCare is running in the background, monitoring your system to prevent threats like viruses or spyware.
A yellow icon means your status is Fair. Usually this means you have an action to take, such as scheduling or running a tune-up or backup, or downloading a non-critical update. A yellow icon means there is no immediate threat to your system, but you should take care of the action as soon as you can to return your system to green.
A red icon means that your computer is At Risk. This can happen if, for example, Windows Live OneCare is unable to update Protection Plus with the latest virus definitions because of a lost Internet connection, or if the Windows Live OneCare Firewall is turned off.
The new firewall allows better control over outgoing traffic, as well as incoming traffic, and retains the simplicity and design of the firewall introduced in Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Full details from Microsoft's OneCare site.
Microsoft seems to have put a lot of effort into keeping the user interface as simple as possible, something other internet security vendors could learn from. Time will tell how effective the product is at keeping the nasties at bay. For now, its the only protection I have on my laptop and will report back in due course on my experiences with it. As the product has only just been released (though its been in public beta for some months) we can't recommend that you dump your Norton or McAfee products and install OneCare. However, PC Medic will report our experience with the product over the coming weeks and let you know what we think.