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December 01, 2005

Microsoft jumps into FireWall market

Microsoft is offer the beta version of a new Firewall/AntiVirus package, called Windows OneCare. I've been using Norton for the past two years, and have been getting popups from it for several days reminding me to renew. I remember getting really mad last year when I renewed because of something it did, actually several things, most of which have vanished into a haze of year-old trivialities. I do remember getting mad that it insisted on placing a link in the main Programs section for my start menu. While my desk may be cluttered, I like to keep a very orderly computer and sort thing into nice neat categories. The only thing in the main section of my Start Menu are the three categories of software...Accessories, Multimedia and Networking. (I had to use Accessories since many programs have an annoying habit of creating that category if it doesn't already exist.) Norton insisted on putting a link in the main section, and wouldn't work unless I left it there. It did allow me to change the attribute to "hidden" which meant I couldn't see it, but darn it all, it's my Start Menu!! Who do they think they are telling me what I can and can't put anywhere on it?!?

Well, their arrogance has prompted me to try Microsoft's product to see if it works for me. Installing it was no problem, and given that I'm not a real big fan of Microsoft, and that I have a reputation for being a grouch, that's saying something. I noticed that it automatically allowed Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and MSN Messenger while prompting me for NetScape, FireFox and Opera. But it also prompted me for FrontPage, so they aren't automatically allowing all Microsoft products, just the more commonly used ones. Still I wouldn't have been annoyed had it prompted me on each of the four I mentioned above. I would have admired their fairness.

One annoyance I found was that it popped up a balloon every time it allowed something to communicated to the internet. I found where to shut it off, but it was one switch for whatever it allowed or blocked. I'd like to know when it blocks something, but not when it allows something. Maybe something to work out in the final version.

Another test was to see if it would allow access to my online library at http://BytheFireplace.com. When I first started this library I had all the books online, zipped, and had the script unzip them when needed. But that took up a lot of disk space. So I moved them to my hard drive, unzipped; and had the online script access the individual chapters via the FTP server I have running. (Cox Cable doesn't allow HTTP, even though they said they did when I was deciding whether to use them). So far it seems the library's working. The access would be from the IP of my server, so the FireWall is allowing it smoothly. Then again I did okay my FTP server when the firewall prompted me. It also allowed the messaging software we use between the computers we have networked together, without prompting, apparently being more lenient to computers within the network than to those from the internet.

I'm not sure what other test I would do other than see if I notice it there as I go through my daily stuff on the internet. I'll keep you posted about it.

Oh, and if you want to be one of the Beta Testers, go to http://www.windowsonecare.com/.

More discussion here.

Posted by Danny Carlton at December 1, 2005 06:57 AM

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