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Microsoft's OneCare Security Service Sparks One Big Debate

The beta version of Microsoft's Windows OneCare Live is taking lumps from critics who say the PC security offering has a few boo-boos of its own.

Microsoft describes OneCare as a "comprehensive PC health service" offering an integrated, always-on approach to PC protection and maintenance. Among other functions, OneCare scans for viruses and spyware, provides regular system "tune-ups" and offers backup-and-restore capability. It also updates itself automatically. The company says there's plenty of need for such a product -- by its estimates, only about 30 percent of its customers are using up-to-date anti-virus tools and two-way firewalls.

However, the beta version has already drawn some criticism from testers disturbed that OneCare Live's firewall includes a default setting allowing Java Virtual Machine and any signed application to pass through without alerting users. Critics say those settings could encourage hacker exploitation.

In its public blog, Microsoft's OneCare Live team acknowledges the default setting, but says it shouldn't increase the risk of security breaches because malware creators rarely sign their applications. "If signed malware happens to pass through the Windows OneCare firewall, our real-time anti-virus/anti-spyware scanning engine should block that application from deploying," bloggers say.

In addition, the OneCare team -- which has promoted the service as a "no-hassle" security and maintenance solution -- says that blocking Java would disable many other applications, confusing and frustrating users.

Microsoft plans to release OneCare in June. Current plans call for charging $49.95 for a one-year subscription that can be used on up to three PCs. Here are some links for more information:

What's in a Name? Redmond Revamps Customer Service Units
Shakespeare's Juliet observed that "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But it remains to be seen whether that adage will hold true for Microsoft's newly revamped approach to customer service.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the creation of a new Customer Service and Support unit, created by the merger of its existing Customer Service and Product Support Services groups. The company says it undertook the overhaul to provide customers with more comprehensive and better-integrated service. Read our report here.

For more, check out Microsoft's PressPass Q&A with Todd Parsons, Microsoft's general manager for customer service.

EMC + SMB = New Partner Program
EMC Corp. has long been the 800-pound gorilla of the data-management industry. But at the moment, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company is thinking small on purpose.

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This column was originally published in our weekly Redmond Partner Update newsletter. To subscribe, click here.

This week, EMC unveiled a new global program for channel partners serving small and midsize businesses (SMBs). EMC says its Velocity SMB Partner Program "enables, supports and rewards" partners selling the new Insignia line of software and hardware, which is targeted to smaller organizations.

The two-tiered program's offerings include training, lead referrals, rebates and other assistance for qualified partners.

Posted by Anne Stuart on February 08, 2006