Microsoft intros security wares

Microsoft recently unveiled its long-anticipated anti-virus, anti-spyware software designed for corporate networks. This marks its first direct and significant shot at partners such as McAfee and Symantec that develop similar software.

Microsoft Client Protection, which is set to ship next year, is designed to protect desktops, laptops and basic Windows file servers from viruses, spyware and other malware, including root kits. The software is expected to go into beta by year-end.

Experts say depending on pricing, which was not announced, the software could appeal to pure Microsoft shops but not larger users with heterogeneous environments.

Microsoft has promised this security software for two years, and the announcement shows how competitive the company is getting in the security market, analysts said.

“It’s nice to see this giant rock thrown into the anti-viral pond to make those guys innovate and move faster than they have been,” said John Pescatore, an analyst with Gartner. “But right now, Symantec is the only one showing that.”

In August, Symantec purchased Sygate, which provides technology to ensure devices comply with security policies before they access the network. Microsoft is adding similar technology to Windows called Network Access Protection, but it is not expected to ship until 2007.

Last month, Symantec purchased Whole Security, which provides anti-phishing technology. Microsoft plans to add anti-phishing technology to Internet Explorer 7, also due in 2007.

Microsoft has added anti-phishing features to its MSN online service. Microsoft’s Client Protection is a combination of software it acquired from anti-virus vendor GeCAD in June 2003 and from the purchase last December of Giant Company Software, which develops anti-spyware software.

Client Protection comprises agents that run on each client and a centralized server management console tied into Active Directory and its Group Policy technology.

Microsoft said it will build Antigen anti-virus and anti-spam security software for messaging and collaboration servers.

First up is Microsoft Antigen for Exchange, which is slated to go into beta in the first half of 2006.

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