IT directors have given a cautious thumbs-up to Microsoft’s announcement of a new security strategy to provide better virus, spam and spyware protection for corporate customers.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer unveiled the new security roadmap in Munich today. He outlined the details of a subscription-based tool for spyware and virus alerts, a new antivirus scan engine for Exchange users, and a security industry body called the SecureIT Alliance.

The announcement is the latest in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing programme and we asked’s 12-man CIO Jury IT user panel if they trust Microsoft to provide reliable security protection.

The verdict was one of cautious approval with seven saying they would trust Microsoft and five saying they wouldn’t.

Pete Smith, IT and telecoms director at Inmarsat, said: “I think this is a good move by Microsoft, as it gives companies more choice in protecting their computers. It’s a subscription-based service and we don’t know how reliable it will be so we need to be convinced it is value for money.”

Others said Microsoft simply cannot afford to fail with this initiative. Paul Broome, IT director at, said: “Considering Microsoft single-handedly created the problem, then the industry to fight it, they will lose any credence if they foul this one up.”

The cost, inevitably, of the service will also be an issue, although no pricing has yet been released.

Ian Auger, IT director at ITN, welcomed the announcement but said: “I’m not sure I would feel too comfortable with putting all my eggs in one basket though – and there is always the thorny issue of cost and licensing to consider.”

Others said they have heard this all before and claimed Microsoft is still the cause of most of their security headaches. Richard Rundle, IT director at BAA, said: “Microsoft have a track record of delivering products with security flaws that either need future patching or release level application. The process is adding no value to my business – rather it is value destroying.”

Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at publisher Hachette Filipacchi, said: “It’d be best to see security being built into Microsoft products, rather than now having the choice of buying Microsoft branded add-ons to do the job.”

One IT chief, who did not wish to be named, said: “I had to check the date on this but no it’s not 1 April. Microsoft just doesn’t do security. This is not the first time that Microsoft has announced security as its top priority. Microsoft didn’t deliver last time and it won’t this time.”

Gavin Whatrup, IT director at advertising agency Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, backed Microsoft’s security plans but said the SecureIT Alliance will be “riddled with caveats” and that it would be better to improve interoperability to give customers more choice over which security application vendors they want to use.

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Stuart Aitken, CIO, Medical Research Council
Ian Auger, IT director, ITN
Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi
Paul Broome, IT director,
Kirk Downey, CTO, Centrica
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO, Manpower
Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Vans
Sean Powley, head of IS strategy, London Borough of Barnet
Richard Rundle, IT director, BAA
Peter Ryder, head of ICT, Preston City Council
Pete Smith, IT and telecoms director, Inmarsat
Gavin Whatrup, IT director, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of’s CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at