Forefront Product Sales to End in December
Some -- but not all -- Forefront solutions will be withdrawn from the market on December 1.
Microsoft says it will no longer sell five Forefront enterprise security products after December 1. The announcement mostly affects Forefront products sold for hosted services, but one server product is involved -- Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010, though extended support for purchased editions will continue until April 14, 2020. Microsoft will also cease sales of an associated service, "Forefront Threat Management Gateway Web Protection Service" on December 1.
Other Forefront hosted services will no longer be sold after December 1, including Forefront Security for Office Communications, Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server, and Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint.
Microsoft's blog post points to an updated support life-cycle statement for the online services that Microsoft plans for the products, though the statement differs from information found on Microsoft's product lifecycle index page. The statement reads as follows:
For current customers, Microsoft will continue to support the subscription through Dec. 31, 2015. If customer subscriptions expire before Dec. 31, 2015, and cannot be renewed because the product is no longer offered, these products will continue to be supported through that date in order to provide with [sic] customers sufficient time to move to alternative solutions.
Microsoft seems to be offering a grace period for customers who may have newly subscribed to those services this year. However, the company isn't obligated to do so. According to Microsoft's Online Services Support Lifecycle Policy, the company must give one year's notice when it is ending a service for its developer and business online service customers. The online life-cycle support policy is slightly different from its policy for server products. For instance, mainstream and extended support concepts don't apply to Microsoft's online services because they are dynamically updated, according to Microsoft's online services FAQ. Exactly how long Microsoft supports its online products that it plans to end isn't discussed in the FAQ.
Microsoft's blog also announced a forthcoming name change. Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, currently part of Office 365, will be called "Exchange Online Protection" when the next service update is released. That news is a little confusing, given all of the similar-sounding Forefront names, but no explanation was given in the blog as to why Microsoft decided on the name change.
The blog also reiterated a change that will come with Exchange Server 2013. Microsoft is adding "basic antimalware protection" to the product. Exchange Server 2013 was released as a customer preview back in July, which is when Microsoft first announced the basic antimalware protection. This basic protection is not the same as Exchange Online Protection. Instead, the basic protection can be "turned off, replaced, or paired with other services (like Exchange Online Protection) to provide a layered defense," according to Microsoft's blog.
The blog explained that other Microsoft Forefront products will continue to be sold, including Forefront Unified Access Gateway 2010 SP2 and Forefront Identity Manager 2010 R2.
The sprawling Forefront product line has seen a number of changes over the years. Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server was renamed "Forefront Threat Management Gateway." Microsoft's Antigen 9.0 for Exchange, derived from Microsoft's acquisition of Sybari in 2005, is no longer available.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.