"As far as our customers are concerned, this perception that [Microsoft's security rivals] put forth is inconsistent with what we hear; customers tell us that they see the integration we can provide as an advantage and having Microsoft best positioned to protect their environment as strategic," said Paul Bryan, director of product management for Security and Access Product Management at Microsoft. "Companies continue to see value in a defense in-depth strategy, and they see us as being in a good position to help protect infrastructure and even help bring together multivendor solutions in many respects."
Industry watchers said that Microsoft has a long way to go in developing its security products to compete head-to-head with the likes of Symantec and McAfee, but predicted that the company will continue to close the gap rapidly.
The arrival of Stirling will nicely augment the security products that Microsoft has on the market today, but there are areas where the company still lags far behind its largest rivals, said Natalie Lambert, analyst with Forrester Research.
"There are certainly different areas where [Microsoft] has holes, but they have made giant steps forward over the past year, and I think they will continue to keep pushing forward with their initiatives," Lambert said. "For instance, their client security portfolio is barely competent today, but they have aggressive plans to bring it up to the level of Symantec and McAfee, and they have accomplished a lot already in only the last year."
Microsoft also lacks any real host intrusion prevention, DLP, or data encryption tools, but it should be able to add those skills relatively quickly via acquisitions and continued development, the analyst said.
Symantec, McAfee, and their competitors in the security space may not need to worry about losing much of their core business to Microsoft today, but they must recognize that the company, while still behind, is gaining credibility fast.
"The stand-alones have a decade-plus of existing work to help them stay ahead, and in many cases they will, but for individual pieces of technology where [Microsoft is] good enough and positioned at an affordable price point with integration with rest of their environment, they're already having some success," she said.