A public beta version of Windows OneCare Live, Microsoft's upcoming consumer security service, will be made available today, the company tells me. Microsoft had been testing the service through its MSN division since mid-2005, but this public beta test marks the first time it will be distributed to a wide range of users.

"The consumer beta of Windows OneCare Live will be available this week as part of an extensive testing and development process before its final release to the public," a Microsoft representative told me yesterday. "Windows OneCare Live will ... offer real-time anti-virus and managed firewall security, back-up and restore capabilities and PC maintenance tools. Other features will be added over the course of beta testing, including anti-spyware protection."

Microsoft describes OneCare Live as an automatically self-updating PC health service that runs quietly in the background, giving you persistent protection against viruses, hackers, and other threats, helping keep your PC tuned up and your important documents backed up. You can find out more about the Windows OneCare Live beta at the Live.com Web site: http://ideas.live.com

In related news, Microsoft is also privately testing a new version of its upcoming Windows Live Mail service, codenamed Kahuna. The updated Windows Live Mail beta includes more advanced features to help protect customers from phishing scams and spam, as well as gives customers more control of their Windows Live Mail beta experience, according to Microsoft.