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Enterprises overly optimistic about Vista security

A recent study reveals enterprises have high hopes for Vista's security features. But Microsoft faces challenges convincing the security market of its leadership abilities.

A recent study of managers in large Windows shops found that these customers have high hopes for improved security features that will be coming in Windows Vista, Microsoft's next-generation operating system.

A study conducted by Current Analysis Inc., in Sterling, Va., looked at perceptions among IT security managers about the impending OS release. The research firm surveyed 306 enterprises in the United States. The intent of the research was to gauge Microsoft's impact on the enterprise security market.

The research found that 90% of respondents expect automatic patch updates and installation management functionality to be part of Vista. According to David Baltaxe, Current Analysis' director of customer intelligence, the more surprising finding is that more than two-thirds think that intrusion detection and protection features will be included.

"These are not features that Microsoft is even really talking about," Baltaxe said. "So, it's surprising that so many people are expecting it."

Baltaxe said that if indeed Microsoft bundles these capabilities into Vista, it will raise the competitive bar significantly in the market.

"We came away from this believing that Vista will be a watershed event for them in terms of their presence in the protection market," he said. "On the flip side, there are very significant concerns from the enterprise market as to the credibility of Microsoft in terms of their ability to deliver."

Despite prevailing confidence in Vista security, Baltaxe said Microsoft still faces hurdles with regard to its reputation as a reliable security provider. About 63% of respondents agreed with the statement that reports of vulnerabilities in Microsoft's operating systems raise concerns about Microsoft's security solutions.

"There is definitely a question about [Microsoft's] ability to absorb the broad array of activities that need to be there in order to deliver a robust set of security solutions," Baltaxe said.

Respondents also question how Microsoft stacks up against other security vendors. About 42% thought that products from vendors that only make security products are better than products from vendors that offer security as only part of their business, such as Microsoft.

"Microsoft is large and new to this market," he said. "They have to establish credibility. One way they are doing this is through acquisition of established vendors."

One-third of those surveyed said they consider Microsoft a leader in security. Baltaxe said they were surprised by the high number given the software company's newness to the security business. He also noted that the number of those who thought Microsoft would lead the security market in three years did not increase much.

"There is a core group of believers," Baltaxe said. "And those that are not believers are not likely to become believers."

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