Windows Live Safety Center

Windows Live Safety Center.

Yesterday on the Microsoft Security Response Center blog, Stephen Toulouse announced in passing that the Windows Live Safety Center could now clean up against issues in regards to Microsoft Security Advisory 911302.

Now the link in the blog post is busted, but I was able to ferret around and find what he was talking about last night.

I'm not a fan of Microsoft's Live site, as so much stuff was borked
when I tried it. Besides the fact it did pretty much nothing on
FireFox, I had my fill of customized “portals” in the late 90's with
Yahoo. But then I fell on Stephen's post…

It seems that Microsoft has moved some of its latest security
features to the Live system AS A SERVICE. I originally thought this
might be the OneCare Live beta,
but after digging a bit deeper it is apparent this is a different
project. The Windows Live Safety Center is a free scanning and PC
health service, to help delete viruses and other threats, and a support
community to help keep you informed of the latest security issues. That
is unlike Windows OneCare which is an automatically self-updating PC
health service that runs quietly in the background of your PC. Where
OneCare helps give you persistent protection against viruses, hackers,
and other threats, and helps keep your PC tuned up and your important
documents backed up, Safety Center is useful to check on and fix issues
that may need immediate remediation. I can see this service being
critical as new exploits bombard Microsoft's support center during an

So why is this so interesting? Well, now when your grandma calls you
and tells you her computer is acting funny, you can tell her to go to It will install a small ActiveX component on the fly, and then:

  • Scan the computer for viruses using the latest signatures
  • Complete a disk cleaning scan
  • Complete a disk fragmentation scan
  • Do an open port scan
  • Output Computer Information

All the stuff you would normally have to try to get her to do over
the phone or via Remote Assistance anyways. What I like about this
process is that when I tested it last night, besides the ActiveX
control, I didn't have to install or configure ANYTHING. No antivirus.
No signature updates. It just worked. When I first hit the site, it was
smart enough to know I wasn't running with Administrator privileges and
gave me a very easy step-by-step guide on how to switch users and rerun
the service.

Software as a service isn't something new. But are applications like Windows Live Safety Center a glimpse as to whats to come?

On related news, Windows OneCare is now available for consumer beta. You can get some more information on this and other related betas over at Windows Live Ideas.

And finally for the RSS fans out there. The Windows Live Safety Center team have a blog feed over on MSN Spaces, although its not very active yet. And guess what? Windows OneCare team has a blog feed too!  
[Dana Epp's ramblings at the Sanctuary]

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