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Microsoft Marches to Forefront

At LA launch, software giant pushes security, management, and all the cool integration possibilities

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- If fast-edit video and volume levels are any indication, Microsoft’s new security and management products are going to be really, really good.

In an event here this morning, Microsoft’s Bob Muglia walked customers and partners through its Forefront client security and System Center management products, highlighting their individual strengths -- but repeatedly emphasizing the power of deploying them together.

The event was timed with the official release of Forefront, Microsoft’s client software that guards against malware and spyware and has built-in hooks for vulnerability management for desktops, laptops, and some servers. (See Microsoft Moves Security to 'Forefront'.)

The products also represent more than four years’ worth of investment from Redmond, characterized by in-house development as well as acquisition. In that time, Muglia observed how the nature of security has changed. "Security problems are evolving from widespread viral attacks to attacks on individuals and organizational data," he said.

Interspersed between Muglia’s comments were video segments from customers like Carnival Cruise Lines, Del Monte Foods, and Hewlett-Packard, noting the additional capabilities and savings with Forefront and System Center.

In addition to taking a more holistic view to protect enterprises and individuals, Microsoft has made another interesting change. The software giant no longer relies on just the management group to handle all the oversight of its products and applications. By looping in the Exchange group directly, its developers could see there was a lot more application data that needed to be exposed to better secure and manage the application, he explained.

In parallel with Forefront’s release, Microsoft is also building multiple response centers around the world to gather as many malware signature files as possible. "Sometimes problems exist and sometimes issues are found, and our response centers keep in touch with hackers and those that discover or create vulnerabilities. We mobilize when a problem occurs to fix it as fast as possible," Muglia said.

He didn’t say whether this means Microsoft will step up its patching frequency, now famously limited to Patch Tuesdays. "I know it looks like [we issue] a lot of patches, but given the breadth of our product line, there aren’t that many as compared to products like Linux," he said.

— Terry Sweeney, Editor In Chief, Dark Reading

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

    Terry Sweeney is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered technology, networking, and security for more than 20 years. He was part of the team that started Dark Reading and has been a contributor to The Washington Post, Crain's New York Business, Red Herring, ... View Full Bio

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