Microsoft's Aim Is Antivirus

The Redmond, Wash., software giant confirmed that it has an enterprise antivirus service in development, but other sources said Microsoft is developing a broad managed services platform that will also consist of antispyware and possibly Domain Name Service hardening, Wi-Fi provider ID assurance and firewall services for e-mail filtering.

Sources said there may be two "flavors" of the enterprise security services offered, one for enterprise customers and one for Microsoft Business Solutions targeting the SMB market. They said the services will be bundled into licensing agreements and also offered on a subscription basis.

"Initially, it will be antivirus, but there are ambitions to move beyond this as new hardware rolls out," said one partner, who requested anonymity. "The long-term aim is to have a comprehensive manageability platform.

"Enterprises will need to interface the service to asset management and load set image management. They're not likely to agree to let Microsoft hit machines directly," the source added, noting that Microsoft's existing patch management services will be used to deploy managed services. He said the plan would likely be subject to review by antitrust officials in the United States and Europe and, if approved, would not debut until after the Longhorn version of Windows is released.

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Adam Lipson, CEO of Network and Security Technologies, Pearl River, N.Y., said Microsoft's plan to provide an enterprise antispyware managed service is important because it is a logical entry point for the vendor to offer additional enterprise managed services such as antivirus, firewall, intrusion detection and others. He sees it as a great opportunity for Microsoft.

"Today, enterprise clients are running separate processes and vendors for managed AV, IDS, content, antispyware and other services," Lipson said. "There is a unique market opportunity for Microsoft to fill a void in the market and become the consolidator of these managed services."

With the exception of the enterprise antivirus offering, Microsoft declined to comment on other possible services.