Microsoft Corp.'s push into the enterprise security market is gaining momentum with today's announcement that it is launching a new antivirus and antispyware product and plans to have the software available in a beta version for businesses by year's end.
Microsoft also announced that it will be integrating the same technology into a server-level antivirus product from its acquisition of Sybari Software Inc. last February.
Beta versions of the server product are expected to be available in early 2006 and are designed to protect Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes messaging servers and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server technology from e-mail-borne attacks.
The announcements were made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and security chief Mike Nash in Munich today as part of a strategic security update by Microsoft. The company also formally launched the Secure IT Alliance, a Microsoft-led group of more than 30 security vendors that will work on better integration between their products and those from Microsoft.
Microsoft's new Client Protection tool integrates an antivirus product from its 2003 purchase of Romanian antivirus software maker GeCAD Software with an antispyware technology from its purchase of Giant Company Software Inc.
Though both tools have been available as free downloads for users since the beginning of the year, Microsoft will be charging for the integrated product going forward, according to Scott Stanzel, a senior product manager with Microsoft's Security Technology Unit. Stanzel said pricing details will become available closer to the actual launch.
He described the product as a demonstration of Microsoft's commitment to deliver new security technologies under its Trustworthy Computing initiative, which was launched in January 2002.
As part of that effort, Microsoft is also working to deliver digital rights management tools as well as identity management technologies for user access control, he said. Microsoft's acquisition of ID management firm Alacris Inc. in September gives the company a range of tools designed to help businesses better manage their smart-card and public-key infrastructures.
"Our strategy has been focused on three areas: making the right technology investments, providing customers with clear guidance for helping them maintain a better security status; and partnering closely with the security industry" and others on security issues, Stanzel said.
Microsoft's move builds on the company's efforts to integrate or ship more security tools with its products and takes it closer to directly competing with antivirus vendors such as Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc. So far, most of its efforts have been targeted at the consumer market, though that could begin to change with the latest announcements.