Third-party security firms got another reminder this week of the growing threat of Microsoft as a direct competitor.
The word from Steve Ballmer is that May will see the official announcement of the full Forefront suite of security products, which we've been anticipating for quite some time (it's been in development since 2003, according to a piece in InfoWorld yesterday).
The watchword for Microsoft on this business-oriented security software suite is integration -- even though it's always careful to warn that the best-protected enterprises incorporate third-party solutions, as well. But the simplified implementation and management derived from Microsoft-designed tools built specifically for say, Exchange or SharePoint, is hard for MS shops to ignore.
Smaller security vendors -- and probably the likes of McAfee and Symantec, as well -- have probably been hoping that Microsoft wouldn't get around to completing the Forefront suite (not unreasonable, given its dev cycle), especially as they watch venture capital interest in their discrete offerings dwindle.
I have to wonder, though, if the marketing campaign for Forefront, with its over-the-top video-game-style presentation of IT as the heroic battler of aliens, ninjas, secret agents and zombies (the dead kind, not the digital kind) will turn off IT pros who are just trying to make purchasing decisions without being called out as geeks.