Microsoft's OneCare 2.0 due next week

Amazon.com taking orders for new security suite

Microsoft is about to release a major update to its Windows Live OneCare security suite, according to online retailers, who have already begun taking orders for the software.

The exact ship date of OneCare 2.0 is unclear, with one online retailer saying it will be offered early next week and others saying it will arrive earlier. Amazon has already begun accepting orders for the product, which it says will ship on Thursday.

Microsoft has been beta testing OneCare 2.0 since July, billing it as a better way for users to manage their home computing environments and as "a foundation to better address the needs of small businesses," according to a company blog posting.

The software, which can be run on up to three PCs, has new tools for backing up, monitoring and managing home networks. It also has new features to speed up the performance of systems that use the software. Its suggested retail price is US$49.95, but Amazon is offering it for US$42.99. OneCare is sold on a subscription basis, so these prices would cover a one-year subscription.

Since it was introduced last year, OneCare hasn't exactly been a runaway hit.

Just last week the software came under fire for changing users' automatic update settings without proper notification, and earlier this year the software ranked last in a test of 15 antivirus products by AV-Comparatives, an Austrian antivirus testing project.

But Microsoft has improved its malware detection rate, according to Vinny Gullotto, general manager of the company's Malware Protection Center.

Between September 2006 and September this year, Microsoft has bettered its malware detection rate by about 20 points, Gullotto said. Now, Microsoft's detection rate is usually between 91 percent to 95 percent, depending on the testing plan, he said.

Jeremy Kirk, in Barcelona, contributed to this story.

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