As promised, Microsoft will soon introduce a beta version of its antispyware and antivirus tools for managed corporate networks, giving enterprises the tools they need to remove malware on client PCs and file servers. The technology, dubbed Microsoft Client Protection, is based on the same core antimalware engines used in its upcoming consumer services, Windows One Care Live.
"In Germany Thursday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will announce a new product offering for businesses that will help them get control over current and emerging malware threats," Paul Bryan, the director of product management for the Enterprise Access and Security Products Division at Microsoft told me during a briefing yesterday. "Today, enterprises are lacking solutions for effective centrally managed malware protection."
Microsoft's upcoming product, which will be made available in beta form to selected customers by the end of the year and will ship in 2006, is built on the proven antispyware and antivirus software that Microsoft purchased in two separate acquisitions over the past 2 years (GIANT Company Software and GECAD Group, respectively). In addition to its corporate offering, Microsoft is also working to incorporate these technologies into a client service, Windows One Care Live. "The underlying capabilities of the \[antimalware\] engine will be in both products," Bryan told me, "but they are fundamentally different \[products\]."
Microsoft Client Protection is designed for managed IT environments in which Microsoft's Active Directory (AD) is used on the server. The product uses Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) but can be distributed to clients with any software distribution system. It can protect Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4) and Windows XP SP2 clients, as well as Windows Server 2003 SP1-based file servers, Bryan said. On the server side, you'll need Windows Server 2003 SP1 or Windows 2000 Server SP4. Windows Vista and Longhorn Server will be supported as well when those products ship.
Licensing, pricing, and availability are still up in the air, and Microsoft will provide more information about these concerns in the near future. "After we get feedback from the beta, we'll know more about timing and licensing," Bryan said.