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Windows Live OneCare 2.0 (beta) released

Home networking tools are added to the service.

Seven months after releasing the final version of Windows Live OneCare 1.5, Microsoft is today offering a Windows Live OneCare 2.0 beta for public testing. The existing Windows Live OnceCare 1.5 release includes sections for Protection Plus (which handles threats and malware), Performance Plus, and Backup and Restore. The new release adds home networking tools to the mix.

Realizing that most home networks have an average of 2.5 computers, a typical OneCare license allows installation on three separate PCs. OneCare 2.0 adds the ability to monitor the security of two additional PCs from one network hub. In addition, OneCare 2.0 helps set up printer sharing among the connected OneCare protected PCs. Also new is network layer protection in the Windows Firewall, sensing settings appropriate for the home environment and then changing those settings when you take your laptop out to a public network. OneCare 2.0 includes a network wizard to help you set up and maintain security on a wireless home network. If your router is one supported by OneCare, you can enable encryption on any of your connected PCs through OneCare.

Enhancements to PC performance include the ability for OneCare to clear a jammed print job from the print queue, repair a compromised IE host file from outside changes, or enable System Restore if that feature has been disabled. There's also a Start Time Optimizer which looks at applications in your Start folder and determines which applications, based on usage, you can safely remove.

Enhancements to OneCare's backup include centralized backup to one of the networked computers in your home. Microsoft is currently testing online backup via its service. First up will be the ability to store online digital photos. Unlike Norton 360, Microsoft's service will not be free, and the exact storage volume available has not been set. Other changes in OneCare 2.0 include a monthly report of all OneCare activity and 64-bit compatibility.

Anyone interested in trying the new version of Windows Live OneCare can sign up here.