Lookout OneCare!

, posted: 11-Mar-2007 12:23

OnecareWas this a close shave? I was about to install Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare security package on my Vista box here to see what it can do. Reading this post on BetaNews however, I'm going to wait. Since I still haven't been able to make Mozilla Thunderbird run on Vista, I'm stuck with Outlook 2007 for the time being as my email program, and can't risk OneCare making it unusable.

Not that I'm sure installing OneCare would help anyway. The Virus Bulletin found that Microsoft's security package failed to protect Vista, a dubious honour it shares with McAfee, G DATA and Norman's products. OneCare also scored poorly in the Austrian AV Comparatives test (PDF file); it was the worst of the lot in fact.

Microsoft has acknowledged the problem with OneCare deleting Outlook's Personal Storage (PST) files and there's a fix coming up next week. Really, though that issue should never have happened. People live in Outlook, so anything that screws with it is evil forever.

To some extent, the problem is related to Microsoft having painted itself into a corner with Outlook. Whereas other bits of Office are moving towards open standards and non-proprietary file formats, Outlook sticks to binary PSTs. There are no doubt some good reasons for this, but with the way people use email today, PSTs grow into huge files. Everything in Outlook goes into the PSTs, basically. If that PST becomes corrupt so that Outlook can't read it, that's your email, appointments and contacts gone.

There's no way to avoid the PSTs either, not even if you use Exchange and try to store as much as possible on a central mail server. For IMAP with maildir format storage that uses one file per message, the PSTs are redundant for messages and it looks like synching them against the server really stuff down, but you have to have them. And now, even OneCare trips up over them.

I was looking for the official word on the issue, and accidentally typed in the URL for the OneCare beta site. The ensuing page wasn't reassuring:
That is, it's a good thing IE7 picked up on the incorrectly set up certificate, but it's a bit embarrassing that Microsoft gets such a basic thing wrong, beta site notwithstanding.

Other related posts:
Fighting with Windows 8
The Windows Phone 7.5 bouncing tiles bug
Windows Live Essentials betas seem good, but oh so flaky

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