December 2

First Impressions: Microsoft OneCare

Today Microsoft announced the public Beta of its OneCare Live service for consumers. OneCare features an advanced firewall, antivirus, and PC health tools (i.e. backup). Microsoft intends to charge for this service starting next year. Also over the next few months a limited Beta of the enterprise version of OneCare, called Microsoft Client Protection is expected to be released. A target ship date for this product has yet to be released, but could be expected late in 2006 to 2007. Pricing on either product hasn’t been disclosed, but the consumer version will likely be priced below offerings from competitors Symantec, McAfee, and Trend.

From a trusted friend,
My take: I have been using OneCare for a few months now on two different machines and have followed reviews by other testers. The product was a bit unstable when it first shipped, but overall I’ve been fairly impressed. The interface is fairly straightforward, being intended for the most basic of users and it doesn’t seem to be a resource hog. Microsoft hasn’t been very open regarding its plans for either the consumer or enterprise markets. On the consumer side, I believe Microsoft could break even charging $10/month for the client and the residual impact to its image (slowing security related migration to Apple/Linux) would far outweigh the possible benefits of competing directly with established players. On the enterprise side, I’m not as sure what the initial benefit is to Microsoft. The desktop security market is around 95% penetrated, so moving into this market for its own sake doesn’t seem to make much sense. My guess is that the company is looking down the road in hooking the security client into larger plans for enterprise management. While initial feedback on deploying the Microsoft client inside the enterprise was fairly negative, we’ve heard more positive feedback lately. It seems like if Microsoft discounts the product when bundled with other sales (making it significantly less expensive then competitors), CIO’s may go for it and I don’t think Microsoft faces the same reputability challenge in the SMB market (which may be it’s first target). For Windows environments this may make updating the security client easier as it would be accomplished as part of the Windows Update Service.

I think the real value for enterprise users in the looking at what Microsoft is doing is in thinking about what the enterprise architecture will look like a few years down the road. Policy enforcement and role/identity based management are quickly getting more attention as a result of compliance and this could accelerate architectural changes that have a disruptive effect on the security industry and move us away from the firewall methodology of the past few years.

What do you think?


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