Microsoft Buys DesktopStandard

Microsoft gains group policy technology for Active Directory, but not DesktopStandard's new application security product

Microsoft yesterday acquired group policy software developer DesktopStandard, but the independent software vendor's application security tool was not part of the deal.

By purchasing the privately-held ISV, Microsoft obtains DesktopStandard's GPOVault, ProfileMaker, Dragnet, PolicyMaker Standard Edition, Registry Extension, Share Manager, and Software Update. These applications already integrate with Microsoft’s existing Active Directory Group Policy management tools. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

But DesktopStandard's PolicyMaker Application Security tool is now the flagship product of BeyondTrust, formerly a subsidiary of DesktopStandard that has spun off into a separate company. BeyondTrust is now selling the renamed Privilege Manager application security product, which helps prevent desktop security breaches by ensuring that users get only the privileges they need.

Why didn't Microsoft get DesktopStandard's application security tool as part of the deal? "We didn't really want to sell it [to another vendor]," says John Moyer, former CEO of DesktopStandard and now CEO of BeyondTrust. "It was our fastest-growing product, and it's still growing."

Privilege Manager manages the "least-privilege" user environment, says Marco Peretti, CTO of BeyondTrust. "It lets them define rules on specific applications and keep users running with minimum privileges, so they are less vulnerable to spyware and viruses." And it lets them safely add plug-and-play printers and ActiveX controls to desktops, too, he adds.

Meanwhile, many enterprises use Active Directory Group Policy for managing network access and security policies, including patch management. So the DesktopStandard group policy tools are a natural fit for Microsoft.

"These tools are also used to ensure software policies are consistently applied, and most of those policies have security as their core reason for being these days," says Rob Enderle, president and founder of the Enderle Group. "For companies that move to use this tool, the result should be an increase in the effectiveness of both prevention and response efforts to security threats."

GPOVault, PolicyMaker Standard Edition and Share Manager will still be sold by DesktopStandard resellers as well as from Microsoft. ProfileMaker will be sold only resellers. Microsoft is discontinuing PolicyMaker Software Update -- it recommends users run its Windows Server Update Services product instead.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • BeyondTrust