Microsoft Unveils Unified A-V, Anti-Spyware Product for Corporations

Microsoft on Thursday formally unveiled its much-anticipated corporate client protection software that combines the anti-virus and spyware technologies the company has been developing since purchasing GeCAD Software in mid-2003 and Giant Company Software in late 2004.

For now, Microsoft calls the integrated offering Microsoft Client Protection, although the name is not final. The product is designed to protect desktops, laptops and file servers in enterprise environments.

"We have heard from business customers that they want protection from viruses, spyware and other malware threats with a single solution. Backed by a global research system, Microsoft Client Protection will address this need with one solution that combines proven protection technology with integrated management and reporting capabilities,” Mike Nash, corporate vice president for the Microsoft Security Business, said in a statement.

Microsoft plans an early beta later this year. The company is not committing to a schedule for a public beta or general availability.

Paul Bryan, director of product management for the Microsoft enterprise access and security products division, said an important aspect of Microsoft Client Protection is the ability to go beyond viruses and malware. "This product is designed to address both current and emerging threats. We want to make sure that people understand that we plan to evolve this over time," Bryan said.

That said, Microsoft Client Protection will not cover patch management, a client protection technology that Microsoft offers through other avenues, such as Windows Server Update Services and Systems Management Server 2003.

The infrastructure of Microsoft Client Protection will consist of a management console which would provide IT with a centralized place to control distribution of agents and updated signatures to desktops, laptops and file servers. Alerts and reports would show up in the central console as well. The product will leverage existing Microsoft technologies such as Active Directory, Group Policy and Windows Server Update Services.

Pricing is not set, although Bryan said Microsoft does plans to sell Microsoft Client Protection as a product.

Microsoft's move into the space has been anticipated by the industry since the GeCAD anti-virus acquisition in June 2003. It has been a major concern that has affected stock prices of anti-virus vendors. While those vendors are established, they also sell primarily into environments where Windows is the dominant client OS.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.