Windows 7 is still in beta, but that hasn't stopped German security developer NCP Engineering releasing what it claimed is the first universal IPsec VPN client for it. It is making the software available as a free beta on a 30-day trial.

"The NCP Secure Entry Client for Windows 7 makes VPN security a 'one-click and forget it' experience," said NCP director Juergen Hoenig. "Once the client has been installed on a device, users can connect to third-party IPSec gateways without needing to change settings or certificates."

He added that the client can import existing VPN profiles, including Cisco pcf files, WatchGuard wgx files and SafeNet spd files, as well as connecting to NCP's own Secure Enterprise Server. 

Other features include a dynamic personal firewall, data encryption, 'Friendly Net Detection', and one-time password token and certificate support through a public key infrastructure (PKI). It can also be integrated with a network access control (NAC) component to ensure highly secure access to central data networks, NCP said. 

"Compared to porting the client to Vista, the Windows 7 version was a piece of cake," Hoenig said. NCP's developers had to adjust the new version of NDIS 6.2 which comes with Windows 7 and modify the installation process, he noted.

The software gives NCP a lead over Cisco, which does not have IPsec VPN client software for 64-bit Windows, said blogger Paul Weterings. On his blog, he reported that Cisco apparently wants users to drop IPsec and buy new ASA security appliances instead.  

"I'm absolutely not interested in the ASA, but I still want my Windows 7 laptop to connect over VPN to my office," Weterings said, noting that the NCP client is 32-bit, but runs on 64-bit Windows 7 without major problems, unlike NCP's 64-bit version for Vista. 

Another Windows 7 beta-tester added that he was impressed by the new NCP client. "I have the beta installed and it is working great," said Richard Turnmire, consulting analyst with First Horizon National, a regional bank in Tennessee. 

Hoenig added that NCP plans to update the software "in the future, maybe with the first release candidate of Windows 7."

Update: Check out our review of Windows 7's native secure remote connection client - DirectAccess