Windows

OneCare goes Live, but it doesn


Microsoft finally

ships its long awaited subscription security tool OneCare Live tomorrow.

OneCare Live is Microsoft’s entry into the security realm dominated by third

parties such as Symantec and McAfee. It combines a firewall, anti-spyware, and

anti-virus tools along with such things as backup and performance tuning. Not to be outdone, both Symantec and McAfee

are offering

their own new tools.

Jason Hiner has previously

mentioned in his blog that he’s excited about OneCare and plans to use it

at home once it ships. I’m still very skeptical about OneCare.

Oh, I’m sure that Microsoft has done a good job with the

product and that it does exactly what it’s designed to do. I’m also reasonably

sure that it will drive Symantec, McAfee, and others out of the market,

especially when the corporate version becomes available. I also don’t buy the

argument that just because Windows has a reputation for being buggy and full of

security holes that you can’t trust a security product from Microsoft.

So why be skeptical?

I guess it doesn’t have anything to do with OneCare itself.

Rather, releasing a security product for sale like this makes me trust

Microsoft as a whole less. The reason for this lessened trust comes from a parallel

argument made by those people who wouldn’t trust Microsoft with security because

they think Windows is so bad. My reason is based on the inherent conflict of interest that a vendor has

selling an operating system and then charging you to keep it secure.

In selling a subscription product that secures its systems,

what incentive does Microsoft have to truly build security into their

products to begin with? Sheer altruism? Ask Netscape, Lotus, IBM, Corel, Novell,

Ashton-Tate, Borland, and Computer Associates how altruistic Microsoft is. The answer is there is no incentive.

Microsoft gets to play lip-service to security with Vista and other products and

then offer to take more of your money via OneCare for you to be truly secure.

It makes much more sense to me to have security products like

antivirus bundled with an operating system. By including it for free, I’d be

more willing to trust the system as a whole because the company wouldn’t be

profiting from their own mistakes or the willful destruction of others.

Why is it more important to bundle something like a media

player which is completely irrelevant to an operating system, but not something

like security? And it’s not like

Microsoft doesn’t have a history of bundling anti-virus with its operating

systems. DOS 6.x came with anti-virus, but it mysteriously disappeared in Windows

95.

Of course the reason they don’t bundle it is because they can

make a lot of money from it. If there was a way to get a revenue stream

directly from a web browser or a media player, then you’d be paying for IE and

Windows Media Player as well.

Here’s another thing that confuses me. If Vista is supposed

to be so secure, to the point that as George Ou advocates in his

blog you don’t even need

anti-virus or other security products, then why is Microsoft now entering the

market? Could there be something about

Vista, Longhorn, and Office 2007 that Microsoft isn’t telling us? What are we

supposed to believe?

See? This is what I mean by the conflict of interest and the

questions that OneCare raises leading me to trust Microsoft a little

less. I want a system that I can trust to be secure or at least backed

by a company that won't profit from its own mistakes.

Editor's Picks