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Windows Update Services Hits Beta Stage

Windows Update Services, the follow-on to Microsoft's Software Update Services free patching tool, entered the public beta testing stage on Tuesday.

Like SUS, WUS will provide basic, centralized administration of Microsoft's Windows Update service. In terms of Microsoft technologies, WUS/SUS is a step up from letting each machine or user directly access Windows Update and a step down from managing the process through the more robust Microsoft Systems Management Server.

WUS downloads patches and updates from Microsoft's Windows Update and Microsoft Update and acts as the repository for those patches within an organization, giving administrators control over which patches are sent to end-user and server systems and when. It can run on Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP.

New features include expanded support for the types of patches it handles. In addition to Windows patches, administrators can choose to use WUS to pull patches from Microsoft for Office, SQL Server, Exchange Server and hardware drivers. After selecting operating system and applications, administrators will have the ability to select by checkbox what types of information to download from service packs to security patches to drivers and other things.

While SUS did not support creating target groups of systems, administrators using WUS will be able to create target groups of systems for different patches. Those target groups can either be pulled from Active Directory or maintained on WUS in non-Active Directory environments.

Limited reporting on the progress of patch installation across an organization is also included.

Microsoft released a limited beta of Windows Update Services in March. Plans to release the broad beta over the summer and a final version by the end of 2004 were pushed back when Microsoft temporarily put its WUS development resources into the Windows XP Service Pack 2 effort, which included an overhaul of Automatic Updates.

The WUS beta is available at www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/sus/wusbeta.mspx.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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