Our third and final planned beta is upon us and I am proud to announce that Forefront TMG Beta 3 is not only feature complete, but it is publicly available for everyone to download. This is an important milestone for the team as we are for the first time publicly previewing our integrated URL filtering capability in TMG using the Microsoft Reputation Services (MRS). This completes our feature set and value proposition for the secure web gateway (SWG)aspect of this release and we look forward to the feedback from the community around this integration. We have started already announcing some our partnerships and agreements for MRS and URL filtering. One such example is the BrightCloud agreement announced last week. There will be a follow-on blog in detail about URL filtering and MRS from Dotan in the team. With this final addition, we are pretty excited about the overall value proposition for customers large and small to benefit from such a rich set of threat management and protection capabilities all integrated with the Microsoft security, identity and management infrastructures.
So, what else is new with Beta 3? First and foremost, we have an all new Setup Preparation Tool which installs the prerequisites for TMG and should introduce a much more reliable and simplified experience for installing the product for the first time. With this beta will also be introducing both our Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition SKUs with the differentiated feature sets. We will enable easy migration from both ISA 2006 customers as well as TMG customers that want to move or upgrade from SE to EE at a later time. In Beta 2, we did not support workgroups, so in Beta 3 we have re-introduced this capability and are also introducing the capability for running and testing TMG on the Windows Server 2008 R2 platform. We plan on fully supporting both Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 when we release later this year.
I think everyone will find that there is also a lot of what we call "fit and finish". We have implemented a lot of polish and fixes based on your bug reports and feedback. We have made a number of performance enhancements to the overall system and we are looking for customer feedback on how the system performs under your workloads and environments. We won’t have capacity and planning tools until closer to our actual release date, but we are collecting a lot of data and we would love to hear from you on your testing and requirements as well as your target hardware profiles to help us develop the best possible guidance. In addition to performance, we have added additional coverage with our Network Inspection System. Wait for a future dedicated blog entry on our NIS enhancements that we are announcing with this beta.
Also in the new functionality area, we are introducing SSL VPN functionality through SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) support in this beta. This has been something long requested from the community and we are excited to finally preview the functionality natively integrated into TMG. Some other interesting surprises based on community request that will first appear in this beta is rule set grouping and search capabilities integrated into the user interface – this is something that we implemented as a direct result from the beta feedback program. This may not be a surprise for those of you who we met at TechEd, but for many of the ISA fans out there, I think you will find this functionality long overdue. So we can fully integrate our secure email solution with Exchange Edge Server with Exchange 14 beta and Exchange 12 SP1, we are introducing our first capabilities around the Windows PowerShell. We are only introducing read only support with PowerShell so we can get community feedback in this area. We look forward to hearing from you.
We had an overwhelming 11,000+ downloads of Beta 2 and we received even more great feedback on live deployments in your environments. Please take a look at what we have polished and added with Beta 3 and we look forward to hearing what you think. The download is available now on our download center and I invite you to install and test in your environment today: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=e05aecbc-d0eb-4e0f-a5db-8f236995bccd.
David B. Cross
Product Unit Manager