Microsoft has begun beta testing of its Windows OneCare Live service. Windows OneCare combines antivirus protection with an adware/spyware monitor, scheduled PC maintenance, an enhanced firewall, and other tools. It will be sold as a subscription service for an annual fee. (If you’re feeling brave, you can submit an application to be a beta tester.)

My loyalty to Symantec and Norton Antivirus is fading fast. Although I still recommend Norton Antivirus 2005, it’s not out of love for the program as much as habit and familiarity. Competing products continue to have cluttered interfaces, confusing control panels, and way too many screens appearing unnecessarily.

If Microsoft can deliver virus and adware protection with a simple interface, making people safe without drawing undue attention to itself, the OneCare Live service will be our new best friend.

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