Microsoft on Wednesday launched a beta version of its upcoming Windows Live OneCare 2.0 desktop security and maintenance subscription suite. The new version sports a number of tweaks over its predecessor, including centralized multi-PC support, printer sharing, and enhanced wireless and backup features. But the best news, perhaps, is that anyone can test it: The OneCare 2.0 beta is publicly available.

In a recent briefing, OneCare Lead Product Manager Gina Narkunas explained how the service has been improved. "We've evolved the service in several key areas," said Narkunas. "OneCare 2.0 includes enhanced protection against electronic threats, improved data protection features, and tools to help keep your PC performing at the highest possible level."

More specifically, OneCare 2.0 builds upon the capabilities of its predecessor, which featured real-time antivirus and antispyware protection, an enhanced two-way firewall, automatic disk defragmentation and hard drive cleanup, and document backup to various media types. The new version adds Wi-Fi connection security, proactive system fixes and recommendations, a boot-time optimizer, centralized backup for multiple PCs on a home network, online photo backups, multi-PC management and monitoring via a new "circle" paradigm, automatic printer sharing, and monthly reports. Like its predecessor, OneCare 2.0 can be installed on up to three PCs.

I've published screenshots of the beta on the SuperSite for Windows and will write a preview article that details all the new features and functionality.

http://www.winsupersite.com/article/showcase/windows-live-onecare-20-beta-screenshot-gallery.aspx

If you'd like to try out the OneCare 2.0 public beta, please visit the Microsoft Web site.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=74137