Microsoft has announced the availability of Windows Live OneCare, its PC care service, in 16 countries. The service offers unified virus and spyware scanning, more flexible file backup options and support for the Windows Vista operating system.

The service will be available to consumers on Jan. 30, along with the release of Microsoft’s much anticipated Windows Vista. All active OneCare subscribers will be automatically upgraded to this latest release with new features and enhancements while they’re online. Moreover, Microsoft will also offer its Windows Live OneCare beta customers, a special discount the annual subscription fee (60 percent off), when they sign up at http://onecare.live.com/. The offer is valid from January 23 through February 12, for Windows Live OneCare beta users.

Ryan Hamlin, general manager of the Technology Care and Safety Group at Microsoft said, “This new release marks our continued commitment to evolving and expanding our all-in-one PC care service around the world, both for Windows XP and now Windows Vista customers. In addition to helping guard against viruses, spyware, phishing scams and other security threats, OneCare also handles a variety of essential PC care practices behind the scenes so our customers can have peace of mind that their PC is being taken care of and will be able to spend their valuable time on other things.”

Windows Live OneCare offers automated protection, maintenance, performance tuning and support for PCs running either Windows XP Service Pack 2 or the Windows Vista operating system. Windows Live OneCare claims to complete the security picture for Windows Vista adopters by providing real-time anti-virus protection and managing firewall policies to address new and evolving threats. Representatives say the service goes beyond security to help simplify important maintenance tasks such as backing up photos, music and other files to a variety of storage devices and defragmenting the hard drive to help increase the performance of consumers’ PCs.

Windows Live OneCare is priced at an annual subscription rate of $49.95 in the US, for up to three PCs. Starting from January 30, the service will also be available at similar pricing and licensing structures in Australia, Austria, Belgium (Dutch and French), Canada (English and French), France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland (French and German), and United Kingdom can download the Windows Live OneCare subscription service at http://onecare.live.com/.

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