After my last post about being accepted to the Microsoft OneCare Beta program, I actually installed the software. After a quick reboot, I was happily testing away. It would appear that the program is indeed blog worthy, so here goes nothing…

After rebooting, you can start up OneCare by double clicking its system tray icon (which we’ll introduce in various stages later on) or by selecting Microsoft OneCare Live from the start menu. Either way, you’re presented with the OneCare Live window.

OneCare Live Window

OneCare - Main - Good Status

The main feature of the OneCare Live screen is the current status, indicated with a colored bar and shield (not unlike the shields used in Service Pack 2 in the Security Center… in fact identical to those shields). Also featured are the results of your last scans, much like those featured upon startup in every other anti-virus / -spyware program known to man. Nothing particularly earth shattering here, just “Protection Plus” (Antivirus), “Performance Plus” (Defragmentation and File Cleanup), and “Backup and Restore” (Obvious, duh…).

The first obvious course of action is to run a tune-up scan. As the scan runs, you’re presented with a progress dialogue, outlining briefly what’s going on.

Tune-up in Progress

onecare_tune-up_in-progress

At this point in the tune-up scan, OneCare is still performing a virus scan of my main desktop. The file currently under scrutiny appears to be a temporary internet file in my local settings directory (C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\).

Once tune-up has completed its scan, you’re presented with a completed progress bar.

Tune-up is Complete

onecare_tune-up_complete

Since I didn’t actually sit and watch the wizard scan away (hey, I just got home from vacation, I had to unpack!), I’m simply assuming that the progress bar actually progresses. I also am not sure at which point the scan completed, but it was definitely less than an hour…

You’ll see the “View Report…” button at the bottom of the scan window, which will take you to the brief summary below.

Tune-up Report

OneCare - Tune-up - Report

The tune-up report displays a color-coded list of scan points. I’d have expected a green / yellow / red color scheme here, since that seems to be the standard in the rest of the program, but Microsoft decided to mix things up by greying out anything that passed successfully.

In my example, there were no viruses detected, but there were errors on every other area of examination.

OneCare found 3803 files that needed to be backed up, which only makes sense. I have never backed up this machine using their backup program. I much prefer to copy everything I need to my network server or an external USB drive manually, so OneCare no doubt that just about everything still needed to be backed up.

The default option in OneCare is set to not “Clean up your hard disk”. I guess Microsoft assumed people would get quite angry if OneCare were set to randomly delete anything it thought was old enough to go, so they left it off by default. However, remember that this functionality does exist (and we’ll get to where you set it up in a few minutes).

If there’s more information to be conveyed, you’ll get a “Details” option with the typical Microsoft-fashion down arrows next to the entry in the report.

Virus Scan Details

OneCare - Tune-up Report - Antivirus

The virus scan details simply show you how many files were scanned, which drives were scanned, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary for any virus scanning application in use today.

Defragmentation Details

OneCare - Tune-up Report - Defragmentation

For some odd reason, OneCare was unable to defragment my G: or J: drives, both of which are external USB drives. It was able to defrag my main C: drive, which is actually more surprising, since it was in use running Windows at the time. Go figure…

Back on the main OneCare Live screen, you’ll also see a “View or change settings” option, which launches the options window, containing the tabs below.

OneCare Options Tabs

OnceCare - Options - Tune-up OneCare - Options - Backup OneCare - Options - Antivirus OneCare - Options - Firewall OneCare - Options - Logging

All options displayed are the default installation options. I have not changed a thing. Not really much to say here.

On the Tune-up tab, you’ll find the check box used to enable “Clean up your hard disk” in tune-up (the automatic deleting of files).

Backup reminders can be enabled or disabled using another simple checkbox on the Backup tab. Somewhat oddly missing is an automatic backup option. At the very least, I’d expect Microsoft to keep the same visual display on the backup tab, just like the next two tabs (Antivirus and Firewall). There’s no On / Off option, featuring the Service Pack 2 shields, which would have fit perfectly here as well, giving a more unified appearance.

Antivirus and Firewall features can be enabled / disabled using the same display featured in the Service Pack 2 Security Center. On the antivirus tab, you are also able to view the quarantine and any exclusions set.

The Logging tab appears to be used only for technical support purposes. I’d have expected more options here, which is a big disappointment. One thing Microsoft does not do well is unifying logging. In every service they offer, logging is handled entirely differently. Sometimes it’s on a tab, sometimes it’s in options, sometimes (like now) it’s non-existant. Everything should log to the Event Viewer guys, and it should all be configurable in the same place in every application. Unification is key here just like it is everywhere else!

Now that we’re done with the main program itself, let’s look at some of the notifications and indicators you’ll see in your system tray once OneCare is installed. Thus far, everything has been low-key and reasonable. No alerts have popped up multiple times or aggrivated me to update or change anything. This is the way it should be. Tell me once and then leave me alone when I tell you to shut up!

System Tray Icons

OneCare - System Tray - Icons

This is a view of all my displayed system tray icons. On the far left, we’ve got the icon indicating that OneCare is currently working (this was a Tune-up scan in progress). The little clock-like indicator in front of the computer swirls around, so it’s also somewhat entertaining to watch (what can I say, I’m easily amused…). Between the “ATI” and the magnifying glass (Windows Desktop Search) is the main icon, which changes colors to indicate the current status of your computer system (Green, Yellow or Red). The status displayed here is “Good” (Green).

System Tray Status Fair

onecare_systray_yellow

Just as above, between the “ATI” and the magnifying glass, you’ll see the main OneCare icon, indicating (through its Yellow color) that the current computer status is “Fair”. Very unobtrusive, but easy to recognize at a glance. Very nice.

Action Required Pop-up

OneCare - System Tray - Action Required

Here you see an Action Required notification in the system tray. My tune-up scan had just completed (showing the results we’ve already looked at), and OneCare was letting me know that there were outstanding issues. Once I closed this, it never came back (At least not yet. A reboot will tell the true side of things.).

Firewall has Allowed a Program

OneCare - Firewall - Recognized - iTunes

Here, we’ve got a system tray notification popup letting us know that the OneCare (erm, Windows) Firewall has encountered a program it’s already familiar with and let it access the internet without interruption. Many of my programs were not previously known and blocked by default (such as my VPN software for work, as well as the World Community Grid application for crunching cancer numbers). I don’t know exactly which programs are allowed by Microsoft by default, but it seems to be pretty standard. This example is for iTunes (no, they don’t block Apple!).

Firewall has Allowed Another Program

OneCare - Firewall - Recognized - Firefox

The same as above, this notification is about the Firewall allowing Firefox to access the internet. This is the obligatory extra screenshot proving that Microsoft isn’t a Firefox-hating playa’. That’s right, it’s free to roam, so shut up and take that tin foil hat off your head! And yes, you get the same notification about Internet Explorer being allowed. It’s not quietly let through the cracks.

That’s about it. I hope I’ve done a pretty good job reviewing OneCare. Please let me know if you have any questions. You can drop me a comment here and I’ll be sure to respond, or if you’d rather email your questions / rants / legal threats to me, it’s chris@doesnthaveone.com.

For anyone curious, this is the first time I’ve used Flickr to host any of my images. If you’d like to view the entire set (which includes a few images not shown here, totalling 23 screenshots), feel free.

I’m anxiously awaiting more Microsoft! If you’d like more design criticism, please let me know. I’d be more than happy to give you guys a few pointers for unifying your look and feel!

Originally published and updated .
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