Microsoft Update, WSUS Set for June release

Microsoft will ship Microsoft Update--the Windows Update successor--and Windows Software Update Services (WSUS)--a managed patch and update server product--in June, the software giant said this week. Both services will be offered for free.

The Web-based Windows Update (WU) service first debuted in 1998 alongside Windows 98, providing Windows users, for the first time, with a centralized location to find updated security patches, code updates, and new drivers for their systems. Over the years, WU has been improved steadily and augmented with Automatic Updates (AU), but it has remained a tool for Windows-oriented updates only. In June, Microsoft Update (MU) will replace WU, adding support for supported Microsoft applications such as Microsoft Office.

WSUS, meanwhile, will replace Software Update Services (SUS) as the company's entry-level patch management tool for small and medium-sized businesses. A free add-on for Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server, WSUS will communicate with MU on the back-end and provide patch delivery and management and reporting services. WSUS requires Windows 2000 SP3+ or Windows XP on the client, Microsoft says.

Additionally, Microsoft in July or August will ship an update for Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, its high-end patch and configuration management tool for enterprises, that will support the MU backend and use the same patch scanning engine from WSUS. An update is also expected for the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer Tool, which will bring that product up to date with the MU backend. At that time, all of Microsoft's patch management tools will use the same back-end and provide consistent results.

Both MU and WSUS were originally due over a year ago. Microsoft says that security work on Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) forced the delays. XP SP2 is also held responsible for delaying other critical products, including Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Longhorn, the next major version of Windows.

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