Microsoft Corp.'s Windows OneCare PC security bundle is now available to the general public.
The consumer-facing tool, which features virus scanning, firewall protection, data backup and PC cleanup tools, has been released to the Windows Live portal as part of Microsoft's plan to extend the beta testing process to a wider audience.
As previously reported, Windows OneCare was recently refreshed to handle automatic scans of files received from the MSN Messenger IM client and the ability to back up computer data to external hard drives.
The application was also tweaked to perform on-demand virus scans during a limited, invite-only beta process.
Dennis Bonsall, group product manager of Windows OneCare, described the beta as a "home run" and said the public release will give Microsoft a chance to test its ability to scale the service for a large user base.
"For an early technical beta of a security product, it exceeded our expectations," Bonsall said in an interview with Ziff Davis Internet News.
"We had a goal of signing up about 15,000 early testers, and we were blown away by the interest. It was significantly in excess of 15,000."
He confirmed that the Windows Defender application, formerly known as Windows AntiSpyware, will be integrated into OneCare when the final version is shipped as a subscription-based product.
"The plan is to have spyware [and rootkit] protection in OneCare in time for the Version 1 release. When it's finally done and we start charging for it, it will have the Windows Defender product built in," Bonsall said.
"One of the main things we're trying to prove out and learn with this public beta is how to effectively deal with issues of scale. A lot of the work [in OneCare] is handled on the server side. Things like the processing of anti-virus signatures and firewall policy updates are all handled on the back-end and we'll be adding users in chunks to deal with this."
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