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Microsoft to Unveil New Patch Management Software

Posted by iMark - 2006-04-20

Microsoft plans to give customers a peek at the next version of its Windows Server Update Services software at the Microsoft Management Summit conference in San Diego next week.
Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) 3.0, which is expected to be released in the first half of 2007, will have a more dynamic user interface based on the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) framework and will include several features that make the software easier to use, according to Joseph Dadzie, a Microsoft group program manager.

WSUS is a free alternative to Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) product, which gives customers a way to control the deployment of Microsoft patches and security updates. It will be shown in public for the first time at the systems management conference during an April 27 session.

New Interface

The new MMC-based interface will give customers an improved view of how their patch deployments are rolling out and will allow them to roll reports from different servers into one root server, Dadzie said.

Version 3.0 will also introduce the notion of "nested target groups" that enable customers to set patch policies for one group of computers--servers, for example--and then fine-tune those policies for a subset of that group such as "Exchange servers," or "engineering servers."

Microsoft also plans to streamline the way WSUS detects the need for software updates in the systems it manages.

Better Beta Later This Year

WSUS 3.0 has been available in a "small focused beta," since January, and a more widespread beta 2 release of the product is scheduled for the second half of this year, Dadzie said. Also due out during second half of the year is a service pack update to WSUS 2.0, which will include support for Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista operating system.

The WSUS software is useful to a limited group of Microsoft users who want more control over their software updates than they'd get from the automatic update service that ships with Windows, and who are unwilling to pay for Microsoft's SMS, according to Peter Pawlak, a senior analyst with the Directions on Microsoft research firm.

"For any company that has a few IT people and more than 50 or 100 computers, it isn't that overwhelming to install and manage SMS," Pawlak said. "And if you're real small, you're probably just going to install automatic updates."

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