Microsoft announced the pricing for its OneCare security subscription service on Tuesday, saying that each consumer will be able to secure up to three computers for $49.95 a year.
The service, which combines an improved firewall with antivirus, system tune-up and backup software, will graduate from its current beta testing phase in June, the software giant said in a post to its OneCare Live blog on Tuesday. The service also gives the software giant insight into its customers' security, allowing the company, for example, to detect that many users were turning off their firewalls.
Microsoft's security service strategy will likely shake up the consumer antivirus industry. The industry's current leader Symantec--the owner of SecurityFocus--announced in its earning statement last month that its consumer business declined 10 percent. Shares of rival firm McAfee took a hit at the end of January after that company warned that it would not meet earning expectations.
However, charging for a service that allows paying consumers to be secured against Internet threats that exploit flaws in Windows will also likely raise sticky issues for Microsoft. Several critics have already questioned whether an operating system vendor should get paid to protect users against defects in its software. In January, while many consumers waited for the software giant to deliver a patch for a flaw in the Windows Meta File (WMF) format, the company declared that users of its OneCare Live service were already protected. Similar incidents in the future could spotlight Microsoft's security strategy.
Posted by: Robert Lemos