New Microsoft Antigen email scanners due July 1

Microsoft has released a trial version of its Antigen e-mail security software, and next month it will begin shipping the first major update to the product line since purchasing Antigen's creator, Sybari Software, in June 2005.

Microsoft has added a number of features to Antigen, including a new Web-based management console, new clustering capabilities, and a new malware detection engine, based on technology that Microsoft uses in the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.

"This is an engine that we've been working on for several years," said Joe Licari, director of product management for Antigen, adding that Antigen is the "first business product that has the Microsoft [malware detection] engine in it."

The Antigen line also includes scan engines from CA, Sophos, Kaspersky Lab, and five other security vendors.

On the clustering side, Antigen has been changed so that the software's signature files are automatically up to date in the event of a server failure. "This ensures that customers who are running Exchange on Windows Cluster servers get the same protection and availability when Exchange fails over from one server to another," Licari said.

Microsoft has been quietly testing Antigen products with a select group of beta customers since February, and all those products will be available for a 90-day free trial effective Tuesday. The products set to ship July 1 are Antigen for Exchange, Antigen for SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) Gateways, Antigen Spam Manager, a management product called Antigen Enterprise Manager, and finally Antigen Messaging Security Suite, which combines the Exchange, SMTP, and Spam Manager products.

These five products, as well as a new management pack for users of the Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 management platform, will be available for purchase on July 1.

When licensed annually by 250 users or fewer, Antigen for Exchange will cost US$10.50 per user; Antigen Messaging Security Suite will cost US$14.50 per user; and the Enterprise Manager will sell for US$98 per server.

Trial versions of the products can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/antigen/downloads/trial-software.mspx.

Microsoft plans to update its Antigen software for SharePoint and instant messaging users in the first half of 2007.

Microsoft has been slowly moving into the security software market. Last week, it began shipping the retail version of its Windows Live OneCare antivirus software, and the company is also testing a corporate antivirus product called Microsoft Client Protection.

Client Protection is built upon the GeCAD antivirus software that Microsoft acquired in 2003, as well as the Giant antispyware product it purchased in late 2004.

As security becomes married to IT infrastructure, Microsoft will only accelerate its move into this area, said Paul Stamp, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. "Whatever you can do to integrate your daily life with ... security is a good thing," he said.

But the challenge will be for Microsoft's security products to work with other vendors' software. Shortly after purchasing Sybari, for example, Microsoft halted development of the company's Unix and Linux products.

"They've got so many products that integrating security into a non-Microsoft product becomes a secondary priority," Stamp said.

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