Microsoft Corp. announced yesterday that beginning in June it would start charging $49.95 a year for Windows Onecare Live, a (currently free) managed-security service designed to protect Windows PCs from viruses, spyware and other Internet attacks.
Leaving aside the question of whether consumers will move in droves to pay Microsoft to fix problems that it is at least partly responsible for, the real question seems to be whether the other anti-virus vendors will lower prices and/or change their licensing terms to allow their products to be used on more than one machine.
That’s because Microsoft has said it will allow customers to install the software on up to three different Windows machines, a practice virtually unheard of at that price point in the consumer PC security market.
Microsoft’s subscription rate comes in at the lower end of the pricing scale set by the other major vendors offering bundles of anti-spyware, anti-virus and firewall protection software, but none of the major players in the consumer market — including Symantec, McAfee or Trend Micro — currently allows customers to install a subscription on more than one PC for that price.
Trend is the only vendor that even comes close, marketing a 3-license copy of its PC-cillin suite for $89.99. Both Symantec and McAfee charge $119.99 for a three-license purchase of their Internet security suites.