Microsoft: Network Security Coming in Longhorn Client

Microsoft officials say out-of-the-box Network Access Protection capabilities will be fitted into the Longhorn client due out in 2006.

Microsoft Corp. plans to fit out-of-the-box NAP capabilities into the Longhorn client due out in 2006.

Thats the word from Jawad Khaki, corporate vice president of Microsofts networking and devices technologies division.

During an hourlong Web chat to share details on Longhorn Networking, Khaki disclosed that the Longhorn client will ship with capabilities to enforce security policy compliance powered by Network Access Protection.

The initial release of NAP was originally planned for the server variant of Longhorn scheduled for 2007, but Khaki said some features will find its way into the client version.

"Additionally, we are working with 40-plus partners who are industry leaders in anti-virus, intrusion detection [and] prevention, network access devices and much more to support the NAP architecture," Khaki said.

Network Access Protection is a policy enforcement platform that lets IT administrators set policies to "quarantine" and restricts clients from accessing a network until the clients can prove policy compliance.

"The idea behind NAP is that we create a framework that allows IT administrators to ensure policy compliance of their systems. In essence, a computer has to prove that it is healthy [compliant with policy] before it is allowed to connect to the network," Khaki said.

Khaki said NAP support will take advantage of the new stack in Longhorn, but he declined to discuss whether it will be integrated into third-party technologies from companies such as Cisco Systems Inc. or Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussing how Cisco and Microsoft are working together on NAP compatibility.

About 40 third-party vendors have announced support for Microsoft NAP, including Cisco, Trend Micro Inc., eEye Digital Security, F-Secure Corp., Juniper Networks Inc., McAfee Inc., Nortel Networks Corp. and Symantec Corp.

During the chat session, Microsoft executives said Longhorn will feature improved usability and manageability for network security.

The plan is to have NAP serve as the framework to provide a "holistic" solution to protect networks as well as the devices and endpoints connected to the network, the executives said.

Joe Davies, technical writer for the Windows Networking and Devices group, said the current plan is to include client and server support for NAP in Longhorn to allow system health checks prior to allowing various levels of access to a managed network.

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.