Microsoft Pulls Plug on Five Forefront Products

Five of Microsoft's Forefront enterprise security products will no longer be sold after Dec. 1, 2012, Microsoft announced on Wednesday.

According to a Microsoft blog post, the change mostly applies to Forefront products offered as hosted service offerings, though there is one server product -- Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 -- in the mix

Even though Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 won't be sold after Dec. 1, extended support for purchased editions of the product will continue until April 14, 2020. Microsoft will also stop selling the associated Forefront Threat Management Gateway Web Protection Service on Dec. 1.

The other Forefront hosted services that will no longer be sold after Dec. 1 are:

  • Forefront Security for Office Communications
  • Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server
  • Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint

Microsoft's blog post points to an updated support lifecycle statement for the online services that Microsoft plans to stop selling in December. This statement is currently different than what you'll find if you search for that information on Microsoft's product lifecycle index page. The statement reads as follows:

For current customers, Microsoft will continue to support the subscription through Dec. 31, 2015. If customer subscriptions expire before Dec. 31, 2015, and cannot be renewed because the product is no longer offered, these products will continue to be supported through that date in order to provide with [sic] customers sufficient time to move to alternative solutions.

Apparently, Microsoft is offering a leeway period for customers who may have newly subscribed to those services this year. However, they aren't obligated to do that. According to Microsoft's Online Services Support Lifecycle Policy, Microsoft just has to give a year's notice when it ends a service for its developer and business online service customers. The online lifecycle support policy is a little different from the one for server products. For instance, mainstream and extended support concepts don't apply to Microsoft's online services because they are dynamically updated, according to Microsoft's online services FAQ. Exactly how long Microsoft supports its online products that it plans to end isn't directly addressed in the FAQ, though.

Microsoft's blog also announced a forthcoming name change. Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, which is currently part of Office 365, will be called Exchange Online Protection upon its next service update release. That news is a little confusing, given all of the similar-sounding Forefront names, but no explanation was given in the blog as to why Microsoft decided on the name switch.

The blog also reiterated a change that will come with Exchange Server 2013. Microsoft is adding "basic antimalware protection" to the product. Exchange Server 2013 was released as a customer preview back in July, which is when Microsoft first announced the basic anti-malware protection. This basic protection is not the same as Exchange Online Protection. Instead, the basic protection can be "turned off, replaced, or paired with other services (like Exchange Online Protection) to provide a layered defense," according to Microsoft's blog.

The blog was quick to point out that some other Microsoft Forefront products are continuing to be sold, including Forefront Unified Access Gateway 2010 SP2 and Forefront Identity Manager 2010 R2.

The sprawling Forefront product line has seen a number of changes over the years. Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server was renamed Forefront Threat Management Gateway. Microsoft's Antigen 9.0 for Exchange, derived from Microsoft's acquisition of Sybari in 2005, is no longer available.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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