Microsoft sheds light on anti-malware plans

Microsoft revealed plans for new enterprise security products that fight malware and spam, but gave few details about what they look like and when they will appear.

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Microsoft this week reminded its customers that when it comes to developing antivirus and anti-malware products, the company is still grinding at the grindstone.

And that's about as much as Microsoft was prepared to reveal about two key security products for the enterprise that are likely to come next year. For IT and security administrators, there will indeed be an enterprise product to fight malware, but the company offered no details about how the product would be packaged or priced.

Microsoft executives said Microsoft Client Protection will go into beta for select customers by the end of the year. The company also said there will be an integrated management console for viewing reports.

In addition, the company also unveiled plans for Microsoft Altigen antivirus and antispam software for messaging and collaboration servers. The software, which is based on technology acquired from Sybari Software Inc. earlier this year, will begin testing in the first half of next year.

Microsoft also said it was creating a coalition with some of its partners to form the SecureIT alliance, which is aimed at helping Microsoft partners integrate their security products with the Windows platform.

Microsoft executives Steve Ballmer, CEO, and Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's security and technology business unit, discussed the company's security strategy at an event in Munich, Germany, on Thursday.

At least one analyst doesn't expect the advent of a Microsoft enterprise antispyware tool to have a significant impact on large business customers. Rather, on its own it will probably have more appeal in the small and medium business market segments, said Neil Macehiter, a principal at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, a Cambridge, U.K., consulting firm.

The main reason is that the largest enterprise customers have more servers than just those that run Windows, so they look for tools that will work across multiple platforms.

For other customers, the impact of a Microsoft antispyware product will initially be small because most security software works on a subscription model, Macehiter said. "When they come up for renewal, that's when it's likely to hit."

So what does all of this mean to customers today?

Not too much, perhaps. Dan Meyer, who is a network administrator at DH Pace, a North Kansas City, Mo., security and construction company, said he isn't in too much of a hurry to give the Microsoft antispyware software a second look. "We're using the Barracuda product now and we're very happy with it," Meyer said.

Macehiter said that without pricing information, and the fact that it won't be out of beta until maybe next year, there isn't much to go on. So this is largely abut saying to the customer, we said we would do this and we are," Macehiter said.

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