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Microsoft OneCares about you


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Microsoft OneCares about you

In a bold attempt to rid itself of the impaired security image that a string of Internet Explorer problems have caused, Microsoft has released a beta of its upcoming personal security system into the wild. Microsoft OneCare Live is freely available to anyone for a 30-day trial period, and even though the application sports a large "Purchase now" button, there is no way to actually buy a license yet. Pricing will be forthcoming, but I'd be surprised if it turns out to be expensive. The app is clearly targeted at Joe Sixpack, who knows he should protect his computer but doesn't quite know how.

The Live name may sound like a web service along the lines of Trend Micro House Call, and there is a matching Microsoft Live Safety Center web site that reinforces that idea. However, for the actual work of cleaning and protecting your computer, that site calls upon a rather large OneCare application that you must first install on your system. The installation will only work through IE because of a reliance on ActiveX, and of course there is a reboot involved. It just wouldn't be cricket otherwise.

So what does OneCare do for the intrepid beta user? First of all, it more or less forces you to enable Automatic Updates, as OneCare will show a scary red status light in the system tray if this is not on. Various other system deficiencies will set off alarms as well, but that was the only warning for me. There is also a built-in firewall, different from the good old Windows firewall that SP2 brought in. You also get a console from which you can launch various services and bask in the warm, green glow of your system status indicator.

The main application window lets you start a full tune-up or perform various individual maintenance tasks on their own. While providing easy access to backup and restore functions is commendable, the only function most users will ever use is the System Tune-up. With one click, you set off a hard drive cleanup and defrag, full virus scan, a backup check and a system update, with no messy configuration, detailed progress reports, or bothersome user input to deal with. Just one click, and you can go put on a pot of coffee while your computer is working

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. . .and now for something completely different

Microsoft holds weirdest press conference ever

IT'S ST ANDREW'S DAY yesterday so what does Microsoft do? It holds a wake at an Irish bar.

Nothing wrong with wakes, but this time Microsoft is celebrating the death of Exchange Server 5.5, an eight year old product which the executives described as a "she".

The event, for British journalists, also involved Microsoft doling out arm bands obviously intended to be the sort of armbands that people wear when someone dies. One of the problems is that they weren't plain black armbands but instead were emblazoned with Microsoft Exchange Server in white. People who wore these armbands didn't look like they were at a wake - they looked like they were at some kind of mass rally.

You'd think that any self respecting member of Her Majesty's Press would eschew wearing such armbands but we are compelled to report that a large percentage of the hacks that were there were not only wearing these things but toasting the faux death of an old Microsoft product.

There wasn't even a coffin or a casket. At 9PM, most of the hacks decamped to a Sony party round the corner. We made our excuses and left, trying to get our head around 21st Century Microsoft. All the Microsoft people and their spinners were very nice, but what was that all about?

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