Recently, Microsoft released an update to their successful Consumer Security suite, Windows Live OneCare 1.5 for Windows Vista RC1 x86 (32-bit) or later. OneCare is Microsoft’s first foray into the desktop security market which includes Antivirus, Malware and Anti-Phishing Protection. The Company’s first product to be released into BETA was Windows Defender formerly Windows AntiSpyware purchased from GIANT in late 2004. In this review, I take a look at installing, configuring and maintaining Live OneCare 1.5 on the recent RC2 update for Vista, build 5744 x86. There are no plans at this time to make the suite available for Windows Vista x64, users of that platform will still have to depend on third party solutions such as Trend Micro Internet Security.
So what is new in this special release for Windows Vista. Not much except for compatibility, OneCare Live strengthens existing Security tools already included in the OS, such as Windows Defender, Internet Explorer 7 AntiPhising by adding a much needed Antivirus utility. Integration is also utilized through other features such as Windows Vista’s Backup Center Utility.
I have to say this is probably the most refreshing installation of software I have had in a while, it was just straight forward, quick and easy. To get OneCare Live 1.5 first you have to sign up by clicking the available link for the software at http://ideas.live.com which will take you to a page where you will enter your E-mail address and click a link to begin downloading the software. A small 1 Mb executable is downloaded, after which you run and the setup process begins. You cannot download the entire software to your local disk, the entire installation is done through the website. Its a sort distinct hint of Web 2.0 by delivering software this way which promises to deliver the most up to date releases of Windows Care. The installation time depends on the speed of your Internet connection, for me it was finish within 10 min’s, after which I was required to restart to complete the installation.
After restarting and logging back into my account, I was greeted by a Windows OneCare Live splash screen which then displayed a status window indicating the software was installed successfully and can be found in the notification area. The OneCare Live main window was also opened ready to configure and adjust any settings. The Anti-Phishing utility is not turned on by default, this I did, next I activated the software which gave me a 180 day trial period (cool). I don’t know if this is available to everyone, Paul Thurrott noted on his WinInfomant page a 90 day trial period.
Is simple and requires that you have a Windows Live ID, MSN or Hotmail account. During the activation process, the wizard checks if you already have an existing account, I believe this is how I got the 180 day trial, since I am already a perpetual beta tester for the OneCare software on Windows XP. The entire process was simple, no problems occurred.
Using Windows Live OneCare
When you first launch the software you are greeted by the status window which gives you a quick overview of what’s going one, indicators include Update to Date (Green), Needs Attention (Amber), You Are At Risk (Red). The three status listings on the main page are Protection Plus for Antivirus, Performance Plus which does things such as defragmenter and disk cleanup, check for updates and files that need backing up. Next is Backup and Restore which protects your files by backing them up to removal storage such as a USB external hard disk, CD/CD RW or DVD/DVD RW or even a Network Location if these options are available to you.
Windows Live OneCare Status windows and Vista Security Center integration.
(click image to enlarge)
What I find kind of ironic is the security technologies if Windows Vista and Live OneCare, when certain actions are executed, such as managing settings, starting a backup or tune up, the UAC dialog is launched before you can begin the process. I just find it strange, knowing its a Microsoft product also and it is not speared the notification. Live OneCare includes its own Firewall utility which replaces the Windows Vista Firewall as the default one which handles both incoming and out going request. Windows Defender which is already a part of WLO package for XP and included with Windows Vista provides better integration through centralized management along with the Antivirus. Upon completion of install, the Media Center Extender on the Xbox 360 would not launch. After further investigation, I found out one needs to open OneCare, then go to Change OneCare Settings > Firewall > Advanced Settings > Ports and Protocols and enable: Xbox 360 and Media Center Extenders and Xbox 360 and Windows Media Connect Devices once you do this, then your extender will connect. Thanks to Brian Kvalheim for the tip.
Windows OneCare Live 1.5 is a great addition to the security portfolio in Windows Vista. The performance is superior in comparison to the other security products such as Norton Antivirus and MacAfee AV. System performance has not depreciated also which is a common characteristic of the more popular AV’s out on the market, its easy to use and manage plus it provides a great out of box experience. The interface is also easy to understand and navigate, I wish there was better automated detection of hardware devices such as the XBOX and Media Center port blocking which are also Microsoft products. There should also be a trust relationship between UAC and WLO, I am sick of the security alerts, but I don’t want to turn them off simply because I like a clean, green security center. Overall, I like it and I think you will too.