On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that, beginning January 30, leading security software vendors will support Windows Vista with Vista-ready products aimed at consumers and small businesses. The names of these companies read like a who's-who of the security software market, as you might expect. There are some notable family-safety security solutions coming as well, marking an interesting shift in the way security products will be sold going forward.

"A more secure computing experience--including protection from online threats, viruses, and hackers--is more important than ever before, for businesses and consumers alike," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ben Fathi, who heads the company's Security Technology Unit. "Windows Vista is the most secure operating system we've ever built, and our security partners continue to play a vital role in adding layers of protection onto the Microsoft Windows platform."

Security companies that will ship Vista-compatible products by Vista's general availability on January 30 include Computer Associates (CA), ContentWatch, Grisoft, IMSafer, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Panda Software, PixAlert, SafeBrowse, Symantec, and Trend Micro. (Microsoft's Vista-compatible Windows Live OneCare 1.5 will also ship by January 30.)

Some of these companies--such as ContentWatch, IMSafer, and PixAlert--are dedicated solely to the emerging family-safety market. For example, ContentWatch produces real-time Internet content filtering solutions that help parents monitor their kids' online activities, even when they aren't home with their children.

Last year, there was some debate about the readiness of security software firms for Vista, but Microsoft maintained all along that these companies would deliver solutions for the new OS in time for its public availability. Vista, of course, includes several new security features, including Windows Defender, User Account Control (UAC), parental controls, and various new Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 protections, such as Protected Mode.