RealTime IT News

Microsoft OneCare Bombs Out In Antivirus Test

There are times when being late to market gives a vendor a chance to learn from others and come out with a better product as a result.

This isn't one of them.

Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare antivirus software came in last in an evaluation of 17 antivirus programs in the AV Comparatives Web site's bi-annual software roundup. It runs its On-Demand tests every February and August to test how well antivirus software detects known threats.

In the On-Demand test, the independent AV Comparatives uses one million known viruses to test the antivirus software. The top scoring products were the little guys. G Data Security's AntiVirusKit (AVK) came out on top, detecting 99.5 percent of the malicious code.

After that was AEC's TrustPort AV WS at 99.4 percent, Avira's AntiVir PE Premium at 98.9 percent, MicroWorld's eScan antivirus at 97.9 percent and F-Secure's Antivirus Kit 2007 at 97.9 percent.

The big names, Symantec and McAfee, came in lower. Symantec Antivirus caught 96.8 percent of the viruses, while McAfee's VirusScan caught 91.6 percent, which put it in 14th place.

Bringing up the rear was Windows Live OneCare, which caught just 82.4 percent of the viruses, and these were known, identified viruses. At least Microsoft  has the excuse of being a new product. But the results are a ding to the well-known McAfee, one of the first commercial antivirus vendors.

In a statement emailed to internetnews.com, Microsoft said it's working on improving its results.

"We are looking closely at the methodology and results of the test to ensure that Windows Live OneCare performs better in future tests," said a Microsoft spokesman. "We will also determine whether any learnings from these tests can be used to improve our services as part of our ongoing work to continually enhance Windows Live OneCare to ensure the highest level of protection and service that we can provide our customers.

AV Comparatives also tested the 17 products against polymorphic viruses, which mutate to try and get past the virus detectors. Here, Symantec fared better. Symantec Antivirus and ESET's NOD32 were the only two products to catch every variant of the 12 polymorphic viruses used. Microsoft's OneCare came in 15th.

"The results of the polymorphic test are of importance because they show how flexible an antivirus scan engine is and how good the detection quality of complex viruses is," wrote Andreas Cleminti, who runs AV Comparatives, in his report. Some scanners would not be able to detect certain viruses without a heavy rewrite of their scanning engine, he added.

Cleminti also said users should look into other independent reports and evaluations than just his.

"There are also many other program features and important factors (e.g. compatibility, graphical user interface, language, price, update frequency, ease of management, etc.) to consider," he wrote in the report.