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OneCare upgrade brings headaches

Recent changes to the security software for Windows Live has online forums buzzing with complaints from users--including onetime fans.

Since November, Microsoft has been slowly rolling out an update to its Windows Live OneCare security software. Although the update was designed to bring in new features, such as the ability to monitor the health of multiple PCs, some say the new version has brought only headaches.

Robert Webb of North Carolina said he started having problems from the moment his software was upgraded in early December.

"My main problem has been that OneCare does not always start when the computer is booted," Webb said in an e-mail interview. "It has to be manually started."

Microsoft's online forums are buzzing with a host of complaints about the new version, with many people unable to get the software to work.

Microsoft confirmed that it is working on that problem.

"We are aware that some users are experiencing an issue with Windows Live OneCare when they start up the service after installing (version) 2.0," Microsoft said in a statement to CNET "The issue is being worked on and currently affects a very limited number of customers (about 1 percent of the install base), each of whom we thank for their patience."

In an interview Thursday, Microsoft lead product manager Larry Brennan said that, in total, the problems aren't causing a significant disparity compared with users' experience with the older version.

"We do monitor the overall status of the service," he said. "We can see that the servicing statistics for 2.0 are comparable to the servicing statistics for (version) 1.6."

Brennan touted the new features, such as automated printer sharing and centralized backup, as key improvements and said that with any upgrade, there are bound too be some people who have problems. Brennan said Microsoft is about halfway through migrating OneCare users to version 2.0 and that the company is continuing to automatically upgrade customers, despite the complaints.

OneCare, which was introduced in May 2006, is Microsoft's first entry in the consumer antivirus software business and competes with consumer software from Symantec, McAfee, and others.

Stephen Boots, the Microsoft Most Valued Professional who moderates the OneCare forum, has been trying to address many of the issues online, but has been suggesting those with other issues contact Microsoft's customer care.

"There were too many problems with the v2 upgrade and too many remain now," Boots wrote in a post on Friday.

For Webb, the problems have shifted his OneCare experience from positive to negative.

"I liked OneCare before these problems appeared because it was hassle free and not a resource hog," said Webb, who has been using the program for a year and a half and renewed his paid subscription last July.

Update: A Microsoft representative said on Friday that the company is planning to push out an update to version 2.0 on January 31 that it hopes will fix many of the problems that users have been encountering.