Microsoft revealed a beta version of its free on-line security scanning tool Windows Live Safety Center. The scanner, which currently requires the use of Internet Explorer, uses an ActiveX control to scan the visitor’s system for malicious software, open ports, as well as for non-security performance issues.
Windows Live Safety Center is reminiscent of Microsoft’s free Windows Defender tool, formerly known as Windows AntiSpyware. I’ve been beta-testing Windows Defender for some time, and I find it quite good at detecting and blocking spyware threats, especially because of its behavioral blocking functionality that automatically blocks suspicious actions on the local system. The on-line scanner doesn’t provide such continuously-monitoring features; however, its performance tuning and anti-virus functionality is very similar to the Windows OneCare service.
Windows OneCare, which is still in beta, “runs continuously in the background, offering persistent, always-on security protection and PC maintenance that generally does not require any action on your part,” according to the recent Windows OneCare newsletter. Windows Live Safety Center offers similar functionality, but rather than offering continuous protection, it is an on-demand service.