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Most security tools not quite ready for Vista

Microsoft's Windows update for businesses is out, but only one of the major security providers has protection available for it.

Microsoft released Windows Vista for businesses on Thursday, but most security companies look like they need more time to deliver tools to protect the new operating system.

Symantec, Trend Micro and CA are still working on products for Vista, representatives for the each of the companies said Thursday. McAfee is the only major security software maker that has products available now for the long-awaited Microsoft operating system.

"The absence of security software from the major vendors will be another reason why business will not migrate to Vista right away," said Natalie Lambert, an analyst at Forrester Research. That's in addition to the lack of support for Vista in general applications, which are the tools businesses need to run their operations, she noted.

Microsoft celebrated the launch of Vista in New York on Thursday. It is the company's first major Windows client release since Windows XP shipped in 2001. On the back of Microsoft's announcement, Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro and CA all put out news releases promoting software for Vista PCs. Yet none announced actual product availability, except McAfee.

"McAfee is the only major security vendor with products available today that support Vista right out of the gate," said Rees Johnson, McAfee's vice president of product management. McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.5 and McAfee AntiSpyware Enterprise 8.5 support Vista and are available now, the company said.

The other large security vendors plan to release their corporate products for Vista over the next months. Symantec plans to release an update to AntiVirus Corporate Edition by December 31; Trend Micro expects to have a new version of OfficeScan ready in the first half of 2007; and CA's new antivirus and antispyware is due out by early February.

"I really expect all vendors to have shipping solutions before the end of the first quarter," Lambert said. "But even then, Vista rollouts will be time-consuming." Forrester doesn't expect mass deployment of the new operating system until 2008, she said.

So, while lack of security tools for Vista could mean some people will hold off from upgrading right away, it is not a major issue for the majority of business users, Lambert said. "This is not a big deal, as we will not see enterprises switching to Vista immediately," she said.

Microsoft is more optimistic. The Redmond, Wash., company predicts that Vista will be adopted by companies at twice the speed as its predecessor, Windows XP. Twelve months after the release of Vista, Microsoft expects that usage share of the oft-delayed operating system in businesses will be double that of XP a year after it shipped, the company has said.

Microsoft has promoted Vista as the most secure version of Windows yet, but has also emphasized that users will still need to run security software to protect their PCs. For example, 3 of the top 10 types of malicious software that hit PC users today can bypass Vista's security defences, security company Sophos said on its Web site Thursday.

"Microsoft continues to encourage customers to follow all of the steps of the 'Protect Your PC' guidance of enabling a firewall, applying all software updates and installing antivirus software," a Microsoft representative said.