Microsoft on Wednesday launched two new enterprise security solutions that Redmond executives say will deliver threat protection and simplified management.

Microsoft Forefront Client Security is built to protect all machines and server operating systems against viruses, spyware, trojans and other emerging malware.

System Center Essentials 2007, meanwhile, is a unified management console created to help mid-sized companies manage their IT infrastructure.

Combined, the two products answer a growing industry call for integration, simplicity and stronger workforce productivity.

"Customers are under increasing pressure to manage the complexity of today’s business environment while protecting information against an ever-evolving array of threats," Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia said in a statement announcing the products.

Competitor Symantec used the announcement as a chance to promote a similar offering on the horizon, which was scheduled to be released last quarter.

Its new enterprise product — code-named Hamlet and scheduled for beta release this summer —  includes signature- and behavior-based malware detection, in addition to network access control (NAC) and anti-rootkit capabilities.

In a statement, Symantec said it applauded Microsoft for raising awareness about the need for endpoint security. But Big Yellow questioned how effective the client security offering would be, considering it is based on some of the same technology as OneCare, which has performed poorly in early tests.

A March AV comparatives examination tested 17 anti-virus programs to learn which tackled viruses, macros, worms, trojans and other malware the best. Live OneCare only detected 82.4 percent of the 500,000 viruses, and received the worst score out of all the products, according to the study.

The month prior, the product failed a test conducted by security magazine Virus Bulletin, after unsuccessfully detecting any malicious programs.

Microsoft security product officials told they are sure the Forefront product protects users from existing threats.

"We feel confident that the protection we have in place is what is exactly needed by customers," said Paul Bryan, director of product management for Forefront Client Security.

He added that the product has received certification from West Coast Labs and is awaiting the checkmark from ICSA Labs, two industry leading certification bodies.

Click here to email reporter Dan Kaplan.