Microsoft has fitted an anti-virus and PC clean-up utility into the new Windows Live initiative as part of a larger plan to shuttle customers to its Internet security offerings.
A beta version of the new Safety Center lets customers run free Web-based computer scans to detect and remove viruses and other known malware.
The Safety Center, which currently works only on Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer browser, uses an ActiveX Control to scan for and remove viruses. It is also capable of detecting vulnerabilities on Internet connections.
The service, which is geared towards consumers, also features two PC maintenance tools—Clean Up and Tune Up—to handle tasks like the deletion of "junk" from a machine or the defragmenting of a hard disk to improve PC performance.
The Safety Center also serves as a Web portal to distribute security-related information and to keep users updated about viruses and other malware attacks.
The addition of the free scanner, which is different from the regularly updated Malicious Software Removal Tool, comes ahead of Microsofts big push into the consumer and enterprise security markets.
The software maker is currently testing Windows OneCare, a bundled service for virus scanning, firewall protection, data backup and PC cleanup tools. The Windows OneCare service will be sold as a subscription service within the Windows Live environment.
Microsoft has also announced plans to ship an enterprise-class anti-spyware product featuring technology to thwart viruses, worms and kernel rootkits.
The offering, called Microsoft Client Protection, will go into limited beta testing before the end of this year with a full rollout expected in 2006.