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3/13/2006
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Analyst, End Users Mad About Windows Live OneCare Updates

Not everyone is happy with updates Microsoft issued for its OneCare security service. In fact, some are cautioning others to steer clear.

An update late last week for Microsoft's OneCare security service has apparently given some users fits, including an industry analyst who called the glitches "unacceptable."

Last week, Microsoft rolled out an update to the beta users of its OneCare Live security subscription service, which it now calls "Windows Live OneCare" to better sync the moniker with the company's other online offerings. The update added anti-spyware functionality, courtesy Microsoft Defender, an enhancement Microsoft had long promised.

But Live OneCare, which is to go final in June at an annual price of $50 for a three-PC license, has proven an iffy update for some.

Joe Wilcox, an analyst with JupiterResearch, detailed his experiences updating three PCs this weekend in an entry posted to his Microsoft Monitor blog Monday.

One machine, he estimated, was unprotected for at least 48 hours because the automatic update had failed part-way through the process. Another required an hour and a half of install-uninstall-install tinkering before everything worked properly.

Other users posted similar complaints to a Microsoft message forum. A writer identified only as "Jaffo" wrote on Saturday "I turned on my system and after it booted the one care system tray icon turned red." (OneCare uses a red-colored icon to signify when the system is unprotected.)

Numerous messages on various OneCare threads spoke of a known problem with the security service updating when .NET Framework 2.0 Beta also is on the PC -- including this admission by a member of the OneCare development team in early February -- but the suggested fix didn't work for either Wilcox or Jaffo.

"I followed OneCare troubleshooting instructions that recommended removing .NET Framework 2.0 Beta," wrote Wilcox. "Fine, except the computer had .NET Framework 2.0, apparently not beta. But I removed it anyway. After the computer restarted, I tried to start Windows OneCare Live. It wouldn't run because .NET Framework 2.0 wasn't available."

Microsoft didn't elaborate on the cause nor confirm that it involved .NET Framework. "A small portion of the Windows Live OneCare managed beta customers are experiencing problems with their service," a spokesperson said. "We have identified the issue and are actively working to resolve it." The spokesperson claimed that only three percent of the managed beta users encountered the snafu.

But Wilcox, for one, was ready to give up on the service because of the botched updates.

"Microsoft is trying to win people's trust about security," he said. "That means a product like Windows Live OneCare has to work all the time, even in beta, particularly when the beta is widespread. No exceptions, no excuses.

"With security software, there are no second chances."

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