On September 10 we rolled out another planned refresh of the beta before we ship V2. We’re in the home stretch now, and we’ve managed to come this far with the help of all of you, our excellent beta testers. We’re not quite done yet though - we still have a little spit ‘n’ polish to apply, so keep sending us that feedback. In the meantime, we wanted to give you one last look at the new features we’re bringing out in V2.
Remember, if you’re thinking about introducing a friend or family member to Windows Live OneCare, tell them to visit http://onecare.live.com for the latest released version of the service.
Focus On V2: Printer Sharing
So far you’ve heard from Mona Akmal on Circles and Scott Hoogerwerf on WiFi Security. With this last installment of the beta newsletter, we wanted to present another new feature that takes advantage of the multiple PC environment that’s at the core of V2. Here’s Neeraj Garg, a Program Manager on the OneCare team, to talk about printer sharing.
Print from any PC in your home to any printer in your home. That’s the simple goal behind OneCare Printer Sharing. As soon as we decided that OneCare V2 would be about simplifying management of the whole home network rather than a single PC, we looked at lots of problems we could tackle and printer sharing rose to the top. We found that even among the technical folks here in the team (myself included), people either did not know to how to set up printer sharing or hadn’t taken the time to configure it. As we talked to more people, the value of simplifying this task became readily apparent.
To see printer sharing in action, all you need to do is:
- Have two (or more) PCs in the same OneCare Circle
- Make sure that both PCs are connected to the same router
- Attach a USB printer to one of the computers
(This should be all you need. For those people who want a list of more in-depth requirements, check out our wiki page.)
After you’ve done the above, just turn on the PCs at the same time and let the magic begin! You’ll see a confirmation dialog on the PC without the printer -- just accept this dialog and OneCare will take care of the rest. Now you can print as much as you want from both PCs.
Some of the challenges we encountered while building printer sharing were:
- Figuring out which printers to support: Early on we decided to support only USB printers for our first release, since they are the most prevalent and other types such as wireless and network are likely to be already shared.
- Learning how to share printers without impacting file shares: By default, Windows Vista® uses password protected file shares using a specific user account for remote access. When sharing a printer, we need to create a new user account (OCPrint) which of course we want to give only the minimum permissions required. But Windows Vista sharing only allows one account to be used for remote access, so creating OCPrint caused all the existing file shares to stop working. Our solution was to create an alternate name for the computer, so that Windows Vista can have one account for each computer name, and both the printer and existing file shares can work side by side in a secure fashion.
- Handling printer driver-related issues: Supporting the printer on the second PC requires installing the driver. Since installing drivers can be dangerous, we took multiple precautions: we don’t allow sharing printers between 32 bit and 64 bit machines; we monitor the computer for stability and provide an undo for the installation if needed; and we also create a system restore checkpoint before installing the driver.
- Providing for security: Printer sharing also required our firewall to become home network-aware. Our firewall now knows whether you are within a home/work network, and automatically allows printer sharing while you are at home or work while disabling it when you are on a public router.
Try out printer sharing today and let us know how it works for you!
Changes in the Refresh
We’ve been hard at work addressing any last minute issues in this refresh. Some of the fixes we’ve made recently include:
- The firewall can now directly identify network tunnel adapters and can allow you to change them
- Help content for OneCare has been significantly expanded, especially in areas such as multiple PC management
- OneCare will no longer erroneously report an error after a defragmentation times-out.
- OneCare will prompt users to classify their network in more cases then before, helping make sure firewall policies are set appropriately in more cases
- Files with the extension “.Ini” and “.cfg” are now backed up by default
- Files with the extensions “.ost” are now no longer automatically backed up
- The monthly report now shows the correct number of system scans
- The firewall policy section in the monthly report now correctly displays all of its content without the large red “X”
As we get closer to shipping we continue to address issues as they arise, making sure all of our i’s are dotted and our t’s are crossed. Your feedback helps make sure OneCare is one of the best all-in-one PC care products out there!
How to send us Feedback
As always, the success of the beta is directly related to how much feedback we get. Good and bad, we want to hear from you!
If you think you’ve found a bug or have a suggestion, tell us about it using our feedback submission form at https://connect.microsoft.com/feedback/default.aspx?SiteID=168. At this site you can also see what other people have already entered, and add an extra vote for the issues that matter most to you.
If you have a question about the beta or OneCare in general, there are lots of resources to consider. Our forums, located at http://forums.microsoft.com/windowsonecare/default.aspx?siteid=2, are great places to ask questions and discuss OneCare with other like-minded users. Our wiki, located at http://channel9.msdn.com/wiki/default.aspx/OneCare.HomePage is full of tips, tricks, and solutions for all sorts of issues. Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget about our beta help center at http://beta2.onecare.live.com/standard_beta/en-us/support/default.htm
Coming up Next
We’re getting closer and closer to finalizing V2, so look forward to the launch and general release of V2 coming up in fall. We appreciate the help, support, and feedback all of you have given during our beta, so look for some special offers coming just for our OneCare beta users to become full time subscribers after we release.
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