Entering the security software market for the first time, Microsoft is releasing Windows Live OneCare in the US market.

OneCare includes firewall, antivirus, antispyware, and backup software, and integrates seamless with the Windows system, handling routine tasks like defragmentation and cleaning up unused files.

A Microsoft spokesperson says, "We know that PC Care is an issue for customers worldwide and international rollout is of the utmost priority for the product team. Our goal is to begin rolling out the service in beta in additional markets within the next 12 months".

"However, we have no additional details to share at this time but will keep you posted as we get closer to availability."

Available for just $49.95 in the US, Microsoft's software is a competitively-priced product that most likely has security software manufacturers like Symantec and McAfee quaking in their boots.

Both manufacturers have responded to the threat on their territory by announcing new releases of their own. McAfee is releasing a full version of "Falcon" this summer, and is hoping to release a beta version in the near future, whereas Symantec has Genesis in the pipeline.

Some industry experts worry that Microsoft may decide to bundle its own security package, rather than one from a third-party manufacturer, into the software package on many new PCs, and that this will have an adverse affect on the security software market and customer choice.

Microsoft's Live OneCare is likely to be attractive to customers not least because virus protection could be updated along with the security patches that Microsoft currently provides.