Nearly a year after Microsoft introduced Windows Live OneCare, the company's first foray into the security market is still getting low marks from analysts and users.
A recent report comparing the antivirus products of various vendors ranked Microsoft's product at the bottom in terms of detecting potential security threats.
At the same time, users are complaining that OneCare, which includes firewall, antivirus, backup, and antispyware software, quarantines the entire mail store of their Outlook and Outlook Express programs, making it impossible for them to retrieve e-mail.
AV-Comparatives, a project in Austria overseen by security researcher Andreas Clementi, published the antivirus comparison report, which also looked at products from Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky Lab, BitDefender, Fortinet, F-Secure, and several other antivirus products from smaller vendors.
In detecting Windows viruses, worms, macros, scripts, and other OS threats, Microsoft ranked last out of the 15 vendors tested, detecting them 91 percent of the time. G Data Software AG's Anti-Virus Kit (AVK) ranked first with 99.6 percent detection, while products from three vendors -- Kaspersky Anti-Virus, MicroWorld Technologies eScan, and F-Secure Anti-Virus -- tied for second with 99 percent detection. TrustPort Antivirus Workstation from AED came in third with 98.9 percent detection.
In preventing intrusion through backdoors, Trojans and in other malware detection, Windows OneCare also ranked last out of 13 vendors, with 79.6 percent detection. TrustPort came in first at 99.5 percent detection; AVK came in second with 99.4 percent detection; and AVIRA GmbH's AntiVir Personal Edition Premium came in third with 98.9 percent detection.
If ranking low in its rates of malware and virus detection isn't enough to irk users, a recent update to the product has been quarantining the Outlook.PST file, which stores mail in Outlook and Outlook Express, users reported recently on a Microsoft Windows user form.
"This is the most unacceptable act Microsoft has ever committed," groused one user on the forum. "I run a small business, and I am screwed. I have no way to respond to e-mails because I made the mistake of trusting Microsoft ... and all of my e-mails and contacts are gone."
Microsoft confirmed the problem Friday and said it will update the Windows Live OneCare engine to fix the problem as part of its monthly patch release cycle.
The company also offered the following step-by-step fix to recover lost e-mail in the meantime:
* Close Outlook or Outlook Express
* Click change OneCare settings in the main OneCare user interface
* Click on the viruses and spyware tab
* Click on the quarantine button, and then select the pst or dbx file, and then click on restore.
To ensure that the problem does not continue until the next update, Microsoft said users should also do the following:
* Click change OneCare setting in the main user interface
* Click viruses and spyware tab
* Click on the exclusions button
* Click on the add folder button
* Navigate to the specific folder that contains the .dbx or .pst file to be excluded.
* Click OK.