Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

Vista Launch: Most vendors come up empty at Windows release

As Microsoft trumpeted the business release of its Vista operating system today, security vendors scrambled to offer third-party anti-virus software for the new Windows ecosystem.

Information security vendors such as Symantec, CA, Trend Micro and Sophos all made announcements of progress toward Vista-compatible enterprise products, but McAfee was the only major vendor to release a packaged security offering today.

"McAfee is the only major security vendor with products available today that support Vista right out of the gate," said Rees Johnson, vice president of product management for McAfee.

Today McAfee released McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.5 and McAfee AntiSpyware Enterprise 9.5 support for Vista. Analysts expect other major manufacturers such as Symantec, Trend Micro, Sophos and CA to release their security products for Vista sometime in the first quarter of 2007—approximately at the time that Microsoft makes its final release of all of its Vista versions. These vendors are all currently in beta to refine their products before release.

"It really is a significant effort supporting industry-changing events like a new operating system like Vista," said David Luft, senior vice president of development for CA. "It takes a lot of close working relationships within the industry to make sure that you educate yourself and that you plan your products to take advantage of the functionality that will be available on the platform. A lot of it comes down to making sure that you allocate resources and that you plan your features of your product so that you make sure not only your product works but also that it provides additional value."

Though Vista is universally regarded by security experts to be the most hardened operating system that Microsoft has developed to date, it has already been shown to be far from perfect. On Wednesday the security team with Sophos announced that without added protection Vista runs three of the top 10 most common malware programs - Stratio, Netsky and MyDoom - two of which have been around since 2004.

"While Microsoft should be commended for the huge security improvements it has made in Vista, running separate security software is still essential to eliminate the risk of infection," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos.

Because of this, many experts at the major analyst firms are recommending to their clients to hold off on Vista deployment until the security market can respond with more product choices.

Security may not be the only thing to hold up deployment either, which could explain why most security firms have not immediately offered Vista-ready products to enterprises at launch time. Gartner recently said that it expects the average enterprise to take at least 18 months to test and prepare before deploying Vista.

Though Microsoft has projected brisk adoption rates - up to 20 percent by the beginning of next year, analysts are saying otherwise. Those with IDC predict that at the one-year mark, 11 percent of businesses running Windows will adopt Vista. Gartner analysts are even more conservative, expecting only a 10-percent adoption rate in a year-and-a-half's time.

 Click here to email Ericka Chickowski.

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