Microsoft is working on a souped-up version of the Windows OneCare desktop security bundle for enterprise customers, an ambitious bet that theres value in the software-as-a-service business.
When Windows OneCare ships later this year, the immediate plan is to hawk it to nontechnical consumers, but according to a senior Microsoft executive, the long-term plan is to add centralized management capabilities for use in big businesses.Windows OneCare, code-named A1, is styled as an easy-to-use subscription service for anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall protection and PC backup and cleanup tools.
It is currently being tested internally by Microsofts 60,000 employees before a limited beta rollout later this summer. A full-scale rollout isnt expected until the end of the year.
"Well have an enterprise version," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president at Microsoft Corp.s Security Business and Technology Unit, who used his monthly Security360 Webcast to discuss the upcoming OneCare launch.
A Microsoft spokesperson on Thursday sought to clarify Nashs statement on the companys plans. She said the anti-virus component of Windows OneCare is being delivered by the SBTU and once that is completed, Microsoft will turn its attention to an enterprise virus protection offering.
On the anti-spyware front, the spokesperson said a business-grade service will be launched for environments where centralized management and control is required.
Nash did not provide details on how an enterprise-grade version will be marketed or what kinds of management features would be added.
In a note to clients issued late Wednesday, research firm Gartner Inc. said it expects Microsoft to announce an enterprise-capable OneCare service by the end of 2005 for shipment in 2006.
It is not yet clear how the enterprise-grade Windows OneCare service will be different from Microsofts previously announced plans for an anti-virus product powered by the technology that came with the acquisition of Sybari Software Inc.
Analysts reacted to Nashs announcement with raised eyebrows.
"A lot of the interesting features in OneCare make no sense for large enterprise departments. Businesses arent interested in file backup or parental controls, so I cant know where this market is," said John Pescatore, research director for Internet security at Gartner Inc.
"Microsoft has no track record in managed services. Even the trusted names in security have tried with this without much success," Pescatore said in an interview with Ziff Davis Internet News.