Microsoft announced the first release of its rebranded Antigen antivirus and anti-spam products for email systems. Microsoft acquired the Antigen product line with the 2005 purchase of Sybari Software, which is now a Microsoft subsidiary.

Antigen products promise to offer well-rounded protection, particularly because the solutions use multiple scan engines. Microsoft said that depending on the particular Antigen product, various combinations of scan engines could be used, including those from Computer Associates (CA), Sophos, AhnLab, Authentium, Kaspersky Lab, MailFilters.com, Norman Data Defense Systems, and VirusBuster. In addition Microsoft added its own scanning engine to the mix.

“Customers are faced with the challenge of providing the best possible protection for their email users and maintaining the availability, uptime and performance of this mission-critical application,” said Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of the Security, Access and Solutions Division at Microsoft. “Antigen’s unique multiengine solution integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange Server to provide customers with the benefits of layered protection, while minimizing cost, complexity and impact on performance.”

The Antigen for Exchange and Antigen for SMTP Gateways will use scanning engines from Microsoft, CA, Norman, and Sophos. Antigen Spam Manager will use a scanning engine from MailFilters.com. Antigen Messaging Security Suite, which includes all three products, will also include scanning engines from Kaspersky Lab, AhnLab, Authentium, and VirusBuster.

The complete Antigen product line includes Microsoft Antigen for Exchange, Antigen for SMTP Gateways, Antigen Spam Manager, Antigen for SharePoint, Antigen for Instant Messaging, Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, and Antigen Enterprise Manager. However, only the email- and management-related products were part of the company's initial release of the rebranded Antigen line.

Microsoft-branded versions of Antigen for Windows SharePoint Services and Antigen for Instant Messaging are scheduled to become available in the first half of 2007. Sybari-branded versions of those products will be available through the Microsoft channel and Microsoft volume licensing until that time.

Antigen won't become bundled as part of Windows or Exchange. Instead Microsoft will sell Antigen as a standalone line of products. Microsoft said that its Antigen products will be  licensed through its Online Services program on a per user subscription model, with the exception of Antigen Enterprise Manager, which is licensed as a per server subscription license. This license includes all antivirus and anti-spam scan engine updates, signatures, and product upgrades during the license period.

You can register to try Antigen in Microsoft's full-featured virtual lab or download an evaluation copy to try in your own network environment.