Cool Tech Reviews

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June 28, 2006

Windows Live OneCare dinged again


We’ve mentioned previously that Microsoft’s new security suite, Windows Live OneCare, is not faring well in reviews. Add one more as the folks at agnitum (which does offer a competing firewall) put the OneCare firewall through its paces. Hit the link for the technical details, but here’s the punch line:

Although the program is very intuitive, nice to look at, and easy to use – which is good for the program’s target audience of inexperienced users – its functionality is a big let-down and does not serve that inexperienced user audience well. It reminds us of those a colorful and feature-rich Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) with nothing behind them that you sometimes see at exhibitions, because the vendors couldn’t finish the whole program in time. Microsoft OneCare needs a serious overhaul before it can be considered anything more than just a fancy interface with no real security under the hood.

Ouch! While I don’t necessarily buy in to all the issues raised, check this out:

After OneCare has worked for a couple of hours and created a reasonable-sized database of application access rules, we subjected the firewall to a slate of leaktests intended to verify how the program would protect users against imaginary malware attempts to upload data from the host computer. The results were very poor, with the OneCare firewall passing only the most basic and simple leaktests and failing the rest. Amusingly, it treated leaktests as if they were normal Windows Explorer (explore.exe), Internet Explorer and other credible applications widely used on a Windows-based computer, failing to detect the tests’ tendency to imitate, implant its code in, or hijack a credible application on which behalf it subsequently gained access credentials.

The implications of this poor performance are far-reaching: any competent piece of malware would have no problem stealing data from a PC ‘protected’ by OneCare, and the firewall uttered not a single peep to prevent this from happening.

Sounds like Microsoft has got some work to do.


Posted at 6:39 pm. Filed under Brands, Firewall, Microsoft, Security, Software, Utilities, Windows Live

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June 14, 2006

Windows Live OneCare reviewed


PC Magazine’s Neil Rubenking reviews the new Microsoft Windows Live OneCare security suite and finds it cheap, but lacking features:

At $49.95 direct for three computers, OneCare is cheaper than current security suites, but it also offers less. There’s no antispam protection, securing of private data, or parental control. Its firewall is functional but limited, and it doesn’t protect well against spyware. McAfee, Symantec, and possibly others will soon offer subscription-based protection as powerful as their existing suites and will add backup and “PC health” features—eliminating OneCare’s key differentiators. I can’t see how OneCare will survive without a major overhaul.

Hit the link for the full review.


Posted at 7:59 pm. Filed under Antivirus, Brands, Microsoft, Security, Software, Utilities, Windows Live

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December 8, 2005

Review: Windows Live Local beta launched


Yesterday’s rumor of an imminent live beta of Windows Live Local was slightly premature. The beta officially starts today at 9:01 AM Pacific Time (press release, FAQ, screenshots) although it is available right now at http://local.live.com/ and there have been a number of reports from Microsoft bloggers overnight who had been kicking the tires – see Adi Oltean, Mujtaba Syed, “Vik“, and “mayurk“.

My own tire kicking has been cursory, but the beta seems to me to have achieved full parity with Google Maps in terms of “Web 2.0″ interface and functionality with pushpins, driving directions, and business listings. In fact, doing a side by side comparison of the two stoplight town where I live, Windows Live Local turned up more business listings than Google Maps.

Of course, if you live in selected urban areas, you can also see the slick “bird’s eye” imagery based on photographs from low flying planes from Pictometry International Corp. The MapPoint B2B blog has a more complete list of available cities than what is in the online help as well as a brief tutorial on using the bird’s eye interface. This imagery covers about 25% of the US population and they plan to expand it:

Microsoft plans to expand the bird’s-eye view coverage with its exclusive partnership with Pictometry to cover as much as 90 percent of the U.S. population, which means the big cities but not all the “corn farms in Nebraska,” said Stephen Lawler, general manager for MapPoint and MSN Virtual Earth. The bird’s-eye images are also likely to be refreshed every year, with areas such as the tree-filled northeast updated during the winter when the leaves are not obscuring the view, he added.

All in all, it’s very slick, not to mention free.


Posted at 9:39 am. Filed under Brands, Companies, Internet, Mapping, Microsoft, Windows Live

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