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Microsoft expands preview of Windows 10's new advanced threat service

Microsoft today opened the preview of its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to all enterprise IT professionals after testing the service with an invite-only group of companies for the last several months.

ATP, like similar services from security-centric vendors -- including Arbor Networks, FireEye and Symantec -- means to detect ongoing attacks on corporate networks, then follow up to investigate the attack or breach and provide response recommendations.

Rather than serving strictly as an early-warning system, Microsoft's ATP -- again, like others of its ilk -- will be most useful in post-breach scenarios as companies struggle to deal with the fall-out.

Microsoft announced Windows Defender ATP in early March, even though it was not immediately available to firms outside the inner circle of then-current testers, much less available as a for-pay subscription.

The Redmond, Wash. company broke the news two months ago because code associated with ATP was shortly to show up in preview builds of Windows 10 delivered to Windows Insider participants, Yusuf Mehdi, who runs marketing for the firm's operating systems and devices group, said in a late-February interview with Computerworld.

Microsoft has not divulged a likely launch date for the service or its cost, but ATP will, in tune with the company's push towards service revenue, be offered as a subscription.

Because ATP currently relies on data gathered only from installed Windows 10 previews -- build 14332, which shipped three weeks ago, and later previews -- its launch will almost certainly be after the mid-year Anniversary Update debuts. It's most likely to arrive months after that, when the same upgrade is promoted to the corporate-grade "Current Branch for Business" (CBB) release track.

Microsoft specifically named the Anniversary Update as including the "end-point behavioral sensor" required by Windows Defender ATP.

IT administrators who want to try Windows Defender ATP must register at a Microsoft website. The preview will be free, and requires the selected participants to agree to receive an undisclosed amount of communiques and marketing materials through the beta test period.

When the service officially launches, it will be available only to firms with Windows 10 Enterprise -- the most sophisticated and expensive SKU (stock-keeping unit) within the franchise -- Mehdi said in February. There are no plans to backtrack to 2009's Windows 7, the current standard OS in business, to pull data from those machines.

"The focus is on Windows 10," Mehdi said.

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