Microsoft has invited consumers to test the latest beta version of its Windows OneCare Live security service, the company announced late yesterday.
OneCare Live is intended to protect PCs running Windows XP from viruses and hackers, and to keep important documents backed up. The software client that runs the service will automatically download updates to deal with new internet threats, Microsoft said.
The company released previous beta versions of OneCare Live to a limited number of users, by personal invitation only. It is now inviting anyone running the US version of Windows XP to test the service by registering on its Windows Live website.
Microsoft warned that if demand for the service is too high, it may still restrict entry so as to maintain the quality of the service. Anyone refused access to the service in this way will be put on a waiting list, the company said in a posting to the OneCare Live development team's blog.
The beta version of the software is free, but Microsoft will charge for the finished service, including access to software updates, it said. The company gave no indication of when the finished version will be ready or when the transition to a paid service will take place.
Recent versions of the beta software added a number of features requested by early testers, the company said. Among them are the ability to back up data to external hard disk drives; automatic scanning of files received through the MSN Messenger instant messaging service, and integration with the usual delivery mechanism for security patches, Microsoft Update. Microsoft has also updated the OneCare help files and added assistance for removing other software that conflicts with OneCare.
The beta software can be downloaded from Microsoft's website for its Live services.