Microsoft is to roll out a test version of a subscription service which will provide protection from viruses and spyware, it has been claimed. Dubbed "Windows OneCare", Microsoft has been developing the service for around three years now, with a great deal of testing still to do. The service is only compatible with Windows XP with Service Pack 2.

Meanwhile, the company has also added support for a new standard of commercial wireless security to Windows XP with Service Pack 2. Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) will be available as a free download, and will offer advanced data encryption. The technology may help to convince many government agencies, healthcare providers and security-related industries to use wireless technology rather than regard it as a security risk. It should also bring more confidence to ordinary consumers like you and me, who often fear becoming the victim of war driving or something similar.

Microsoft is also working on a new project to bring an up to date, secure version of Windows to older machines. Currently dubbed "Eiger", the OS will turn aging kit into a kind of thin client, but one that can also run some software such as Internet Explorer and Media Player locally.

"If they wanted to run Windows XP, it really doesn't run very well; it might take 20 minutes to boot," said Barry Goffe, a group product manager in Microsoft's Windows client unit. "Eiger is a solution we are building, designed specifically for these customers."