Microsoft Opens Security Beta for Older Windows Versions

   To aid customers who use early Windows versions and don't have broadband Internet access, Microsoft is considering releasing a CD-ROM-based security-update product that would bulk-install the security updates the company now offers online through Windows Update. A beta test of the potential product, dubbed the Windows Security Update CD, will start soon, according to an email message the company sent to testers last week, and will be aimed at Windows Me, Windows 98, and Win98 Second Edition (SE).
   "This special security update CD will benefit customers with slower dial-up Internet connections and those customers who do not regularly visit the Microsoft Web site to download security updates," Microsoft stated in an email message to potential testers. The beta test is scheduled to begin in mid-December, although the company hasn't set a release date.
   Microsoft has been increasingly criticized for the security problems in its products, and although for years the company has offered Web-based methods that automatically deliver key security fixes to users' computers, some critics allege that such delivery systems are ineffectual for users who have slow, infrequently used dial-up lines. The Windows Security Update CD would address that complaint, although how Microsoft will deliver the CD-ROM to users or communicate its availability is unclear. Either way, this CD-ROM will likely be a one-off: In future Windows versions, the company will rely on the increasing adoption of broadband to distribute security updates to users' system on a regular basis.

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