Would You Trust <i>Your</i> PC To The Cable Guy?

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Word from a good source has it that Microsoft has signed at least one cable company to offer its patches/updates/anti-spyware/what-have-you to home PC users for an incremental $10 per month.

The source ain't specifying, but good money says this cable provider is Comcast. Microsoft does, after all, own a chunk of that company. Nothing wrong with that.

Microsoft, as is usually the case with unannounced deals, would not comment.

But here's the problem. Home users, even those one might presume to be tech savvy, are bewildered by the deluge of Windows updates, patches and flowing down the pipe from Microsoft and others. There are the stories of how a PC is fine until a patch is applied and is then prone to attack.

Now, is there anyone or anything you would trust LESS than a cable company to secure and maintain that precious PC? A Boston-area writer was dumbfounded when asked if she would consider such a deal. "My cable company can't even do what they're supposed to be doing right, why would I trust them to do more?"

Some would much rather pay a local VAR, to make sure the home PC is safe and sound. After an initial visit to check it out, he or she could easily use an array of existing technology to remotely and automatically perform updates and patches. The problem is finding him or her.

To its credit Microsoft's channel group is trying to fashion a way for the company's army of registered and certified solution providers to get a piece of this home PC service business.

The question is how much would you pay and how much would it take to make this a viable business for the VAR? One friend, the father of four, who is besieged with spyware, viruses at every turn, would gladly pay someone $100 a month to maintain, scrub, and update multiple PCs, perhaps organize the family's digital photo and music collection. Maybe a single-PC- household with fewer users would cough up $30 or $40 a month. Isn't there a model whereby your neighborhood VAR could profit here?

I don't know. What do you think? Write me at bdarrow@cmp.com.

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