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Microsoft puts in Stirling work for unified security Nirvana

Also: Visual Studio and SQL Server updates

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Microsoft is prepping a security software suite that will take it deep into Symantec and McAfee heartland. They won't be quaking in their boots just yet: the suite, called Stirling, hits the streets in 2009, at the earliest.

Stirling integrates Microsoft's anti-virus, anti-spam and content filtering software, Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server, Forefront Client Security and network access control tools while working with the Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP) policy, Microsoft said today.

Integration will let the various, Microsoft-developed and acquired software products share data and simplify creation and enforcement of security policy, it said. Announcing Stirling today, Microsoft launched a second Forefront Server Security Management Console beta, featuring web-based management.

Stirling is due to preview this year with a beta coming in 2008. So there's plenty of time for delays in this merged-products roadmap. Previous efforts to unite MS-Dynamics applications on a single code base and interface under Project Green saw delays and reversals, while plans to merge Systems Management Server (SMS) with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) were cancelled with SMS now due as System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and currently in a second beta.

Meanwhile...

Microsoft today also set out the latest phase in its plan to secure Windows while trotting out final names for new versions of its next Visual Studio and SQL Server products.

Microsoft's Windows roadmap will see an eighth so-called Core Installation added to the upcoming Windows Server 2008, recently renamed from Longhorn Server. The Core Installation effectively reverse engineers Windows for deployment as an appliance, to winkle out open source and Linux offerings based on architecture and cost, while also locking down security.

This latest Core Installation will see Internet Security Systems (ISS) stripped of its GUI, many libraries and primed for remote administration via the command line, taking IIS closer to Apache's web server in terms of ease of provisioning and deployment.

The move, announced at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Orlando, Florida, potentially boosts security of Windows-based server installations. Web-serving IIS servers can be now run on dedicated machines, separating them from business-critical Windows servers, thereby reducing the potential for damaging attacks through standard routes such as buffer overflow or holes in Internet Explorer.

It was business as usual, meanwhile, on names for the up-coming editions of Visual Studio, codenamed Orcas, and the Katmai edition of SLQ Server. Orcas will now be Visual Studio 2008, with a second beta due this summer, while Katmai becomes SQL Server 2008. The first taste of SQL Server 2008 code was also made available this week under a Community Technology Preview (CTP)

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