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Microsoft moves to the security Forefront

In the last couple of years, vendors like Symantec and McAfee have been increasingly spooked by Microsoft’s foray into the IT security business. The Forefront product line is perhaps one of the best examples of where the software giant is headed on this front, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicts the final release will be out sometime in the next few weeks.

Microsoft first unveiled plans for Forefront Client Security in the fall of 2005, and it made a trial version available a few months ago. The software is designed to protect desktop computers and servers from a variety of insidious code, including worms and viruses, rootkits and spyware.

During a presentation in the Netherlands Monday, Ballmer predicted the final release would be ready “in the next month or so.”

“We are introducing our Forefront line of products,” he said during the presentation, the text of which is available on the Microsoft Web site. “Some of these products we’ve had in market for a while. Some were developed at Microsoft, some came to us through acquisition, but it really is for business customers a comprehensive line of products to help you protect information and secure access to your networks. It really does do hygiene, security [and] antivirus all the way down to the client level.”

Despite the misgivings some security vendors have expressed in recent months over Microsoft’s activity on the Forefront and Vista fronts (anyone remember the PatchGuard debate?) Ballmer insists his company is working with them, not against them.

“Despite our entry into the security business and the management business, we continue to work very well with companies like Symantec, McAfee, HP, Computer Associates and IBM, [which] have their own line of security and management products,” he said. “We’re going to be the best, but we’re going to earn it, and many of you are also going to, for a variety of reasons, want to have a more heterogeneous environment, and we’re going to work very well with those other vendors.”

How well remains to be seen.

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