SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. is offering the public a free test version of its new service for protecting consumers from viruses and other Internet threats.
The company plans to eventually charge for Windows OneCare Live, though it has yet to announce subscription fees.
In the test version, OneCare will update itself automatically on Internet-linked computers to deal with the most recent threats, while performing other PC tuneups to keep computers running smoothly.
Microsoft's foray into consumer security puts the Redmond software maker in competition with companies such as Symantec Corp. that have built businesses out of providing security for people who use Microsoft's Windows operating system and other products.
The OneCare service is also an early test of Microsoft's new effort to offer more Internet-based software and services, so it can better compete against the likes of Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.
The OneCare system, available for download at http://ideas.live.com, will be part of Windows Live, a set of online offerings that the company hopes will complement Windows and keep people loyal to Microsoft products.