Microsoft Forms Security Coalition

Building upon its newly announced security software for businesses, Microsoft on Thursday officially established a new consortium called SecureIT Alliance alongside security industry heavyweights such as Symantec, Trend Micro, McAfee, and Panda among others.

Those in the Alliance will share information about new threats and best practices, along with gaining access to Microsoft betas, software development kits, early adopter programs and development labs. The online portal to facilitate this cooperation will launch later this year.

A public-facing side of the SecureIT Alliance Web site will provide customers with security-related case studies, videos, whitepapers and more, Microsoft says.

While over 30 companies have joined the SecureIT Alliance as founding members, the move could be seen as a way to appease partners who fear that Microsoft's entrance into the security space will render them obsolete.

The company has already released Windows Anti-Spyware free of charge to consumers and it is beta testing a complete protection solution called Windows OneCare. On Thursday, Microsoft unveiled Client Protection and Antigen antivirus products for corporate environments.

"Microsoft's creation of the SecureIT Alliance is really the company's way of simultaneously throwing a bone to existing security partners and elevating security to the level of a platform technology," explained Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox.

"Security development partners could be relegated to building on top of what Microsoft is integrating into its core platforms," added Wilcox. "In the case of Office, Microsoft would prefer that developers build vertical applications on top of the productivity suite, rather than create separate applications."

According to Wilcox, "That could lead to dramatic changes for the security companies not displaced by Microsoft's entrance into the security software market."

For its part, Microsoft feels it has made significant investments into the security space as of late, even releasing a whitepaper detailing those efforts. "Our industry partners will benefit, too, because they'll get better information in technical depth into integrating with our platform," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Security Business & Technology Unit.

In an interview with BetaNews Wednesday night, enterprise security product management director Paul Bryan acknowledged that Microsoft has "knowledge and an understanding of the capabilities of the operating system" that its partners may not have, but it would not hide this information from those companies.

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