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Beta out for next-generation McAfee tools

'Falcon'-based consumer security products promise integrated protection to rival lineups from Symantec and Microsoft.

McAfee released test versions of two consumer security products on Friday, promising integrated protection that people can install and then forget about.

The beta versions of the top-of-the-line McAfee Total Protection and the low-end McAfee VirusScan Plus are now available. The Santa Clara, Calif., company has said that both products will be delivered later this summer, alongside a new McAfee PC Protection Plus and an updated McAfee Internet Security Suite.

Testers of Total Protection can also participate in a separate beta program for an online backup service. McAfee may introduce the service as a rival to a similar feature Symantec has planned for its forthcoming Norton 360 suite, but it has not yet tied the service to any of its upcoming security products.

The next generation of McAfee products is based on new technology code-named Falcon. The company announced Falcon late last month, to compete with Norton 360 and other Symantec products, and with Microsoft's recently launched Windows Live OneCare bundle.

McAfee will let consumers choose how comprehensive a package they want by providing a varying lineup of security features in its four upcoming releases. But offering a range of editions will allow McAfee to tempt people to upgrade to a more expensive option. OneCare and Norton 360 are being pitched as "one size fits all."

Like Microsoft and Symantec, McAfee is promoting its Falcon-based software as an easy-to-use product that integrates a range of defense technologies into a single security tool. The product will be sold as a service, with the consumer paying a recurring subscription price. Microsoft sells OneCare on that basis, and so will Symantec for Norton 360.

VirusScan Plus will offer basic protection--antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall--plus SiteAdvisor, which adds ratings to Web search results, and PC health tools for tasks such as hard-drive defragmentation, McAfee has said.

Next in the lineup is PC Protection Plus, which adds features to let people back up data to a CD, DVD, external drive or networked drive. This product is being pitched as McAfee's response to OneCare.

Internet Security Suite adds phishing and spam shields, as well as parental controls. Furthermore, it includes an ID theft protection feature that warns people when personal data, such as a credit card number, is being transmitted to the Internet, McAfee has said.

At the top of the line is Total Protection, which has essentially all of McAfee's security technologies. Wireless network security is its only distinguishing feature over the Internet Security Suite.