Microsoft just released the second installment of their Windows Live OneCare antivirus software, and they have added some nifty new features to it. Interestingly enough some of the new features have little to nothing to do with an antivirus application, and in my opinion should actually be included with Windows.

So what kind of features would make me say such a thing? Well, here is a list of what’s new from the OneCare blog:

  • Multi-PC and home network management. Helps ease management of multiple-PC environments by providing a single navigation bar for monitoring the security and maintenance of networked computers. Also enables one-click actions to resolve issues among computers within a home PC network.
  • Printer sharing support. Makes it easy to connect printers to local networks so all users in the vicinity can use the same printer.
  • Start-time optimizer. Speeds PC boot time by removing rarely used applications from start-up menu. This helps to address one of the noticeable areas of frustration for PC users as time goes on.
  • Proactive fixes and recommendations. OneCare constantly monitors the specific configuration of the user’s system and makes proactive fixes and recommendations to improve the computing experience.
  • Monthly reports. Provides a summary in the Windows Live OneCare dialogue box of key activities and recommended actions for all PCs in a local network.
  • Centralized backup. Enables users to centrally configure and monitor backups for all PCs covered under the same OneCare subscription, with the data from all PCs backed up to a central location.
  • Online photo backup. Keeps precious photos safe from theft or accidental loss by backing them up to a secure, offsite location in Windows Live Folders (available at an extra cost once v2.0 is out of beta).

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So how much of that would you expect your antivirus & firewall software to do? Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of those features would indeed be nice to have, but I think they would be more appropriate if they were included with Windows.

For example, the printer sharing makes it easy to install a networked printer on all of your computers running OneCare. How does it do this? After you configure a printer on the network, OneCare 2.0 will take those same settings and apply them to the other computers. You no longer have to install the printer drivers on each computer individually because it will do all of that for you. This is especially convenient since you can install OneCare on up to 3 computers for each license you purchase.

In addition to the improved printer sharing support, OneCare also optimizes your computer’s startup time, can schedule backups of important information, and enables the use of the Live Folders service as an offsite storage solution. I would expect none of that from OneCare, but instead it is what Windows should be doing.

I give them credit for adding some unique features to the application, but this is sounding more like a software suite rather than a security suite. If you want to try out the OneCare 2.0 Beta it is available for download from here. You’ll get a 90-day trial with the normal version of OneCare and 224-days (about 7-months) with this Beta, which I found to be a generous amount of time. After that runs out though you’ll need to drop $49.95 on a 3-computer license that is good for a year.

Note: Don’t let the initial 1MB download deceive you. The real download starts after you download this "small" program.