I'm getting weary of looking in a dozen or more locations for the patches I need to keep my Windows NT systems up to date. As you know, Microsoft locates patches in various directories on its FTP site and in various locations on its Web sites. As an example of the disorganization we have to tolerate, Microsoft has released numerous patches for Internet Explorer (IE); those patches all apply to the same application, yet the company has scattered them in different locations, making the patches incredibly difficult to track down. The same situation exists for various BackOffice components and other Microsoft software.
I've illustrated one example of my frustration in this issue of Security UPDATE. Microsoft recently released a new patch for IE 5.0. Evidently, somebody at Microsoft decided to hide the patch on a Web server, even though one of the last patches I had to load for IE 5.0 was on an FTP site.
I don't know about you, but I can't understand why Microsoft can't locate fixes in a central location on an FTP site where we can readily find them when we need them? Why must each group within Microsoft make its own decisions about where to store patches?
I was so frustrated by this problem earlier this year that I took 2 days to write an Active Server Pages (ASP)-based application that checks the different patches locations to see if they contain any new fixes. You too can use this application by visiting my Web site (http://www.ntsecurity.net) and clicking the Hotfix Hotlist link on the home page. But even with this application, I can't keep up! Why? Because Microsoft keeps coming up with more diverse ways to hide patches. I say hide because that's how I feel we're being treated with the disorganization of patch locations.
I'd like to see Microsoft place all patches on its FTP site in some reasonable hierarchical structure. FTP works much better with automation tools (such as SPQuery or my Hotfix Hotlist page) than a Web site does. However, I wouldn't mind seeing the same fixes on a Web site, as long as I can still find them on an FTP server organized in a reasonable fashion.
How difficult can organizing a moderate number of patch files be? Not very difficult if you ask me. So I fail to see why Microsoft hasn't taken this initiative. I've expressed this concern to Microsoft on more than one occasion, and I'm sure many of you have also expressed this same concern. Perhaps someone at Microsoft will read this and get the ball rolling. But then again, perhaps not. Until next time, have a great week.