Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection RC on Track for Q4

Microsoft announced the availability of its Forefront Endpoint Protection client security software release candidate. The product is slated to launch by the end of 2010.

The release candidate build of Microsoft's Forefront Endpoint Protection client software is now available for download, the software giant said on Nov. 8.

Microsoft said the new client security product is on track to be released to manufacturing before the end of the year. Originally slated for the first half of 2010, Microsoft had pushed the date to the second half to swap out the underlying management technology to System Center Configuration Manager 2007.

With the change, customers can use their existing client management infrastructure to deploy and manage desktop security, Microsoft said.

Previously called Forefront Client Security, Microsoft renamed the software Forefront Endpoint Protection. Part of the Forefront Security Suite, the endpoint security product protects Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and all subsequent versions of Windows client and server.

The release includes new behavioral threat detection to provide better protection against "unknown" or "zero-day" attacks, according to the Forefront Endpoint Security blog. The software watches processes for patterns of malicious behavior, such as writing to the registry or modifying the kernel, and acts accordingly to shut them down when detected, said Microsoft. It also offers dynamic translation where the software emulates processes in a virtual environment to verify it is safe before executing it on the actual computer hardware.

The antivirus engine that powers Microsoft Security Essentials, the company's free software that detects and removes malware and the latest rootkits, is included in Forefront Endpoint Protection. The new version of Microsoft Security Essentials is also expected before the end of the year, said Microsoft.

It also includes Windows Firewall management to ensure it is active and working properly across the enterprise, according to the blog. On-demand signature updates from the cloud are also available.

Microsoft is positioning Forefront as a security offering that unifies management and security for desktops and servers for all business users, ranging from small business to large enterprises.

The Microsoft Forefront Security Suite also includes Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server, Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint, Microsoft Forefront Security for Office Communications Server and Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. Microsoft has been rolling out each product individually over 2009 and 2010.

Microsoft announced the RC availability at the TechEd Europe conference in Berlin. Also at the conference, it unveiled several cloud-computing related initiatives, including Hyper-V Cloud, a set of programs and initiatives to help deploy private clouds, and the availability of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0, a free application that assists customers in pooling, allocating and managing their computers, network and storage resources within a private cloud, said Microsoft.