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OneCare Was Not a Failure, Microsoft Exec Says

Critics asserting that Windows Live OneCare didn't succeed on its own have got it wrong, according to Microsoft's chief security advisor for the EMEA region. Roger Halbheer, in a blog posting on Monday, said it was "nonsense" for anyone to suggest that Microsoft's consumer antimalware security solution had somehow "failed."

Last month, Microsoft announced that it planned to discontinue OneCare while simultaneously saying it would offer a free antimalware solution code-named "Morro." OneCare is priced at $49.95 per year, but Halbheer noted that many people just cannot afford the extra amount, especially in newer and arguably poorer markets.

The problem is that "the less mature a market is, the higher is the infection rate," he explained. Consequently, Microsoft moved to provide the free Morro solution "to increase the trust in the Internet," Halbheer said.

While not calling OneCare a failure, one Symantec exec described the demise of OneCare as "a capitulation" on Microsoft's part.

He wasn't alone. Tyler Reguly, security research engineer at nCircle, speculated that OneCare was going away "due to stigma surrounding the Windows Live OneCare brand, which had numerous bad reviews and negative ratings in AV comparisons."

Early reviews of OneCare did in fact use the word "failure." At one point, AV Comparatives found that OneCare had a low rate of spotting viruses (82.4 percent), trailing other solutions. OneCare is now a solid contender in AV Comparative's more recent tests. Halbheer cited other positive test results.

"OneCare is a great product and the AV engine in there is world-class, getting different certifications like VB100 and West Coast Labs since quite a while," he said in his blog. He added that the free Morro solution will be based on Microsoft's Forefront enterprise security solutions.

Retail sales of OneCare will end on June 30, 2009, but Microsoft will support OneCare customers "for the life of their subscription," according to the Windows Live OneCare Team blog. The free Morro security solution likely will appear in June just as OneCare exits the stage.

"When OneCare is killed off next June, will consumers pay for an equivalent Norton or McAfee product?" wrote Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at rival security solution firm Sophos. We'll have to wait and see.

In the mean time, Halbheer recommended three simple steps to help protect your PC: activate your firewall; keep your software updated; and run antimalware that's up to date.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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