Microsoft OneCare only cares about one...

Microsoft OneCare only cares about one...

Summary: Windows Vista will have a snazzy new firewall, but by default it will only block incoming traffic, unless...

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I found out last week that although Windows Vista will have a snazzy new firewall, by default it will be set to block only incoming traffic -- unless you decide to pay Microsoft an extra US$50 a year.

If you buy Vista but decide not to subscribe to Microsoft's anti-virus and anti-spyware service, which is called OneCare Live, then you can still get the same outbound firewall protection for free, but you will have to go to the security control panel and manually turn it on.

This is rather odd, is it not?

One of the biggest issues with Windows is the sheer volume of PCs that have been taken over by malware and used by cyber criminals to send spam, host phishing sites and spread viruses.

A decent firewall on every computer could make a significant improvement to the general Internet ecosystem.

Microsoft seemed to be on the right tracks when it launched Windows XP SP2 a few years ago because for the first time the operating system had a firewall that was turned on by default. It was such a big deal at the time.

So why the change in attitude?

Maybe after four years the Trustworthy Computing initiative is being phased out in favour of squeezing an extra US$50 a year from the company's least tech-savvy customers?

The general manager of ZoneLabs, Laura Yecies, last week told me how the company's latest firewall product -- of which there is a free version for home users -- is designed to install itself deep in the operating system and then monitor every application for signs of malicious intent.

"Imagine your PC was a building and you had a security guard outside... What we do is, whenever anyone comes into the building, we follow them around and look at exactly what they do. Even if they haven't robbed before, if they lift a wallet then we know they are malware,' said Yecies.

She added that if this were a signature based system then the security guard would "have a book of all the known robbers that have attacked buildings in the neighbourhood but no way of knowing anyone else".

But what would happen if this was a Microsoft-designed security guard?

My theory is that the guard would pretty much let anyone into and out of the building. However, if someone looked like they might be carrying a wallet, then the guard would follow them around and every few minutes ask them for some money.

Do you have an alternative theory?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Security

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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8 comments
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  • Windows Live OneCare Team Blog

    These entries on the Windows Live OneCare Team Blog (http://spaces.msn.com/windowsonecare/) address the strategy behind their Firewall:
    1. January 17 2006 -
    anonymous
  • Anti trust

    That's the only reason MS is not including a free in/out bound fire wall. If it was the money, they would have bundled one with vista ultimate and make us pay even higher for that as well. But vista is not out yet and you have companies running to whine to the EC
    anonymous
  • Anti trust

    That's the only reason MS is not including a free in/out bound fire wall. If it was the money, they would have bundled one with vista ultimate and make us pay even higher for that as well. But vista is not out yet and you have companies running to whine to the EC
    anonymous
  • Protection Racket?

    Let me get this straight...

    1. Microsoft sell an operating system for a fair sum of money.
    2. That operating system allows the installation of viruses/malware, etc.
    3. Microsoft sell another piece of software that claims to eliminate the problems outlined in point 2.

    Doesn't this sound a bit like the Mafia charging for protection from the Mafia? Or even worse... paying for the mafia to beat you up, then paying more for protection.
    anonymous
  • Business as usual

    I think MS are just doing what any big corporation does: making money.

    Most of their consumers do not know or care that there is free software out there that will do the job of OneCare Live already.

    People with the technical know-how don't tend to get viruses (virii?) or spy/ad-ware, or if they do, they know how to get rid of them.

    Many people will gladly hand over the extra cash for the added level of protection, because they don't know its true worth.
    anonymous
  • microsofts one care

    i does not matter what everyone says about one care it will not be available in australia anyway its for us consumption only, i was offered it being a microsoft tester and when microsoft actually bothered to check where i lived they withdrew it citing the us consumption only.
    anonymous
  • one caRE LIVE

    HAD IT ON DID NOTHING FOR ME AND I UNISTALLED IT . NOW I CANNOT PRINT VIA PRINTER OR COPY CD/DVD'S AS NOTHING WORKS EXTERNALLY. . THEY RECOGNISE THEM BUT WILL NOT READ OR COPY TO OR PRINT TO THEM. ..
    wHERE DO I TURN NOW TO GET THE PROBLEM FIXED???
    anonymous
  • OneCare Live Microsoft Rip-off

    How long are Australian consumers going to be treated as second class citizens when it comes to software pricing? And when is someone in IT journalism going to take the issue seriously enough. What possible reason (other that blatant profiteering) can Microsoft put forward for offering the OneCare software for $49.95 USD in the US and $99.95 AUD here? At least when Symantec engage in this despicable practice you can still purchase the US product on-line. This is attrocious and the biggest reason I will NOT be going past the 90 day trial with MS. I refuse to be ripped off like this.
    anonymous