Microsoft axes many of its Forefront enterprise security products

Summary:Microsoft is ceasing development of many of its Forefront products, choosing, instead to integrate more security capabilities into a number of its other products and services.

It's been rumored for a while that Microsoft planned to drop its Forefront Threat Management Gateway product. But it turns out that's not the only member of the Forefront family that is on its way out.

Microsoft announced on September 12 via a post to the Server & Cloud blog that it is discontinuing quite a number of its Forefront products:

  • Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server (FPE)
  • Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint (FPSP)
  • Forefront Security for Office Communications Server (FSOCS)
  • Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010 (TMG)
  • Forefront Threat Management Gateway Web Protection Services (TMG WPS)

These products will no longer be available for purchase as of December 1, 2012.

Microsoft also announced it is renaming Forefront Online Protection for Exchange -- an unsung part of the Office 365 bundle of cloud services -- is being renamed to "Exchange Online Protection."

Microsoft will provide support for these discontinued products for a number of years, as indicated in this chart the company provided:

forefrontsupportchart

A couple Forefront products survived the purge: Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) and Forefront Identity Manager. The product formerly known as Forefront Endpoint Security lives on as part of the System Center 2012 product (System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection).

Microsoft reason for dropping so many of its Forefront enterprise-security products seems to be that other products are integrating some of the same functionality. Microsoft is integrating "basic antimalware protection" into Exchange Server 2013. SharePoint and Lync Servers include built-in security. DirectAccess and Routing and Remote Access Server VPN in Windows Server 2012 provide secure remote access for those customers.

It's also worth noting Microsoft has been struggling with shipping promised Forefront products and undergone various management changes in its identity/security unit over the past couple of years.

If you're going to do a big product-family discontinuation that needs some air cover, there's no day better than an iPhone launch day....

Update (September 17): Former Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Hal Berenson, who was charged with overseeing a number of the Forefront products while still at Microsoft, has a good post on the changes leading up to last week's announcement of the phase-out of most of the Forefront family.

Topics: Security, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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