In addition to the beta release of its free consumer anti-malware software, Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft has, in the past week, unleashed five service packs for its enterprise class security software.
These service packs include the beta 2 of its identity management framework "Geneva," the SP3 of Forefront Security for SharePoint, the SP2 of Forefront Security for Exchange Server and trial versions of Antigen Spam Manager for Exchange and Antigen for SMTP Gateways.
Additionally, during the past week, Microsoft released seven technical documentation papers offering advice on everything from how to configure the AppLocker feature in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to a master blueprint for rolling out enterprise security.
Could the frenzy of activity be in preparation for Microsoft's appearance at the annual Black Hat security conference, to be held in Las Vegas July 25-30?
Of this large group of new software releases, one of the more interesting downloads is the Beta 2 of "Geneva". This release aims to improve the deployment of the Geneva platform for the enterprise with new features like Group Policy-driven provisioning of Information Cards or the administrative policy of card usage. It has also improved support for X.509 certificate credentials in Information Cards.
Also of interest is the new declaration Microsoft made this week that its Forefront security wares will standardise on a set of five anti-malware engines moving forward. Forefront had been using 10 anti-malware engines, but as of December 1, it will retire five and stick with antivirus engines made by Authentium, Kaspersky, Microsoft, Norman and VirusBuster. It will yank out engines made by CA, Sophos, AhnLab, Cloudmark and MailFilters.
According to the Microsoft Forefront blog: "Tests performed quarterly by the independent AV-Test.org group have shown that the multi-engine set for Forefront security products rates highest in response times for 'in the wild' viruses and variants.
"We have found that having multiple engines consistently provides the highest detection rates against the competition with average response time of 3-6 hours for new viruses versus competitive single-engine solutions average response times are more than 2-9 days (as noted in recent AV-Test.org data.)"
To that end Microsoft released Forefront Security for SharePoint SP3. As of SP2, new features include support for Windows Server 2008 and installable key word lists for automatically blocking documents containing profanity and discriminatory content in 11 languages. SP3 includes amendments to the anti-malware engine and several software fixes.
Redmond also launched Forefront Security for Exchange Server with SP2. New features include visibility of all actively published engines, alerts and notifications of new engine availability, and a rollup of other software fixes.
Plus Microsoft released a trial version of Antigen for Exchange with Antigen Spam Manager. This is akin to the predecessor of the Forefront Security family in that it is a spam manager for older environments, Exchange 2003, Exchange 2000. It includes the changes in the anti-malware engines and other features. Likewise, a new trial version of Antigen for SMTP Gateways with Antigen Spam Manager with SP2 is available with updated anti-malware engines.