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Microsoft's Extreme Security Makeover

4:25 PM --Is it possible the problem can become the solution? Microsoft's banking on it.

Microsoft is spending big bucks on its extreme security makeover. It's engineered some key acquisitions recently (think VPL SSN company Whale Communications and ID management company Alacris) to fill holes in its technology expertise. (See Microsoft in Whale of a Deal.) The software giant has recently rolled out its first major security products: The Antigen email security package, and the new Internet Security & Acceleration Server (ISA) 2006, for starters, as well as spilling details on its upcoming client security product and christening its security family as (paradoxically) Forefront. (See Microsoft Moves Security to 'Forefront'.)

Of course all this comes amidst the backdrop of its latest (and one of its largest) round of security patches for Windows, Office, Exchange, and Internet Explorer. (See Microsoft Prepares to Patch Things Up.) But I wonder if Microsoft customers really think Redmond can remake itself into a viable security vendor.

Microsoft IT shops are conflicted. Sure, they're relieved to see the software giant get serious about security, but they're also understandably wary of trusting Microsoft with securing their systems and data.

Gabe Selmi, network administrator for Advanced Behavioral Health, says he certainly won't jump at Microsoft's new client security tools right off the bat. "I'll probably rely on third-party vendors," he says. "I'd have to take a really hard look" at any Microsoft offerings.

He'll have plenty of time to mull this, since Forefront Client Security won't be available for another year.

If there's one thing everyone agrees on it's that Microsoft is likely to use pricing as a big lure for winning security customers. "Microsoft is well known for competing on price, so that will at least give them a shot" in security, Yankee Group analyst John Singer says.

But in the meantime, Patch Tuesdays aren't going anywhere. We'll see if Microsoft can leverage its experience with security problems into real security solutions customers will feel confident in buying.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Companies mentioned in this article:

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Whale Communications Ltd.
  • Yankee Group Research Inc.