Microsoft Launches Forefront Client Security and System Center Essentials 2007

At a customer meeting attended by more than 1,000 IT professionals today in Los Angeles, Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia launched two new products to help secure systems and simplify management tasks.

Forefront Client Security is designed for desktops, laptops, and servers and helps defend against viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, and other types of threats. System Center Essentials 2007 lets administrators manage servers, clients, hardware, software, services from one console. The two products are integrated to promote better security management.

Microsoft's entry into the security market over the past couple of years hasn't come without concern and criticism from both end users and competing vendors who worry about Microsoft's tendency to dominate markets and commoditize products. In an effort to address some of those concerns, Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer said late last month, "Despite our entry into the security business and the management business, we continue to work very well with companies like Symantec, and McAfee, and HP, and Computer Associates, and IBM that have their own line of security and management products.... \[Many customers\] want to have a more heterogeneous environment, and we're going to work very well with those other vendors."

Microsoft will license Forefront Client Security on a per-user and per-device basis, with prices starting at $12.72 per user or device per year for the security agent and $2,468 per year for the management console. System Center Essentials pricing starts at $2,000 for a management server and support to manage 50 clients and 10 servers. Both products will be available in July.

The company has a special Web site for the two products, at which potential customers can learn more and sign up to download a virtual machine (VM)-based demo. Muglia's keynote speech is also available for online viewing.

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