Microsoft releases OneCare 2.0 security suite beta

First public beta of Windows Live OneCare 2.0

Microsoft Wednesday released the first public beta of Windows Live OneCare 2.0, a major upgrade of its consumer security suite.

The new version, said Gina Narkunas, OneCare's lead product manager, focuses on home networks. "In addition to securing and maintaining multiple PCs, consumers now need to do the extra work associated with connecting devices and securing networks," said Narkunas in a posting to the OneCare team's blog. "We added features such as multi-PC and home network management as well as printer sharing to help address the modern home environment."

For example, a new navigation bar lets users monitor multiple networked computers' security, while the suite's backup tool now centrally stores and monitors restore sets for all of the PCs covered by a OneCare subscription. The US$49.95 Windows Live OneCare annual fee lets users install the software on up to three computers.

Also debuting in 2.0, said Narkunas, are improved printer-sharing setup and support, monthly reports, a boot-time optimizer to trim the time it takes to start up PCs, and a photo backup service that will be tied to Windows Live Folders, Microsoft's online backup technology that is also in beta. However, the online photo backup won't be activated during the beta testing period. Fees, if any, for online storage space, haven't been set.

OneCare's beta requires Windows XP or Windows Vista. Users can sign up for the preview and download it at the Windows Live Betas site.

Microsoft officials were not immediately available to spell out the beta timetable or when OneCare 2.0 will go final. Current paying customers, however, will be updated to Version 2.0 when it is finished, Microsoft said in a short FAQ.

Windows Live OneCare was last updated in January, when it reached Version 1.5.

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