MS to Ship Malware Protection Utility

Microsoft introduced on Thursday a new program that will help to combat viruses, malware and spyware in the corporate environment, as well as provide stronger protection for current and emerging threats.

Called Microsoft Client Protection, the new service could be seen as new competition for McAfee and Symantec, who have otherwise worked closely with the company in recent years to combat the increasing tide of security threats.

Paul Bryan, product management director in the enterprise security division at Microsoft, said in an interview with BetaNews Wednesday night that Client Protection's aim is to "make sure people have fewer security products" to concern themselves with.

Bryan said the product would essentially be an enterprise version of Windows OneCare. That service is expected to include antivirus, anti-spyware and malware protection, as well as computer tune-up and backup functionality when it launches sometime next year.

"A lot of the underlying technologies are used across both services," Bryan explained. "You could consider it a foundation of sorts."

Although the announcement came on Thursday in Munich, Microsoft Client Protection will not immediately ship.

"We will be releasing an early beta shortly to selected customers," Bryan told BetaNews. He said the program focuses on three key areas: integration with current Microsoft applications such as Active Directory, unified protection, and information control.

By information control, Microsoft is building Client Protection so that an IT administrator would have a clearer picture of the threats or malware that could be present on a managed network. "A lot of companies provide reports but not a lot of information behind them," Bryan said.

Microsoft seems to be pushing aside any suggestion that such a program may upset its partners, and has formed a new alliance to collaborate on security products.

While Bryan would not comment directly on whether the company believed Client Protection would strain relations with others, he did say 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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