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Microsoft buys security software upstart

The company agrees to acquire security specialist XDegrees, in a move to further the software giant's goals of improving Windows security.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced it is acquiring XDegrees, a maker of security software, in a move to further the software giant's goal of improving Windows security.

XDegrees, a small company based in Mountain View, Calif., makes products to secure information access across computer systems installed in large companies. The company plans to relocate to Redmond, Wash. Financial terms and the number of employees involved in the deal were not disclosed.

"It's a way of making a shared file system more accessible and more useful," said Laura Koetzle, an analyst at Forrester. "You are also potentially improving security since you are making everyone use the same access point for the shared files as opposed to all accessing it from different doors. It's a good move."

The company's technology will likely find a home as part of Microsoft's ongoing projects to secure its Windows operating system and related applications. As Microsoft devises new designs for Web services and data storage systems, the company finds itself still trying to convince technology buyers that it can build secure systems in the face of a long list of security flaws affecting Windows, Internet Explorer, Internet Information Server and other products.

XDegrees may help bolster that effort. "As we continue our drive toward making Windows the best platform for advanced data storage, having the XDegrees team and know-how on board will be extremely valuable," said Ben Fathi, director of Windows files services technologies, in a statement.

Microsoft has several storage projects in the works. The company is devising new data storage systems in a group headed by senior executive Bob Muglia. That division this week announced a technology called Multipath I/O, which works to improve the connection between servers and storage devices. Multipath I/O will be supported in third-party storage systems and will be included in Windows 2000 Server and the forthcoming Windows .Net Server 2003 operating systems, Microsoft said.

Making its software more secure has been a recurring theme this year for Microsoft. In a January e-mail to Microsoft employees, Chairman Bill Gates termed security the company's top priority. More recently, the company announced Palladium, a new security initiative blending Windows software with hardware designs from various chipmakers. Microsoft is also developing new security software, code-named TrustBridge, which will allow businesses to authenticate user identities between companies and applications using Web services standards.

XDegrees was founded in 2000 and backed by venture firms Redpoint Ventures and Cambrian Ventures.