Microsoft Lays WSUS Egg

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a pilot project to distribute a Genuine Office Advantage update that includes a nag on systems that it determines may not have a legal version of Office on their systems.

The pilot project, which was to be voluntary, targeted only four countries: Chile, Italy, Spain and Turkey. However, the update apparently got posted to the WSUS download site, and marked as a critical update. The WSUS team at first defended the update on its forum, but then backtracked as it became clear that it was a big mistake.

Our new Web site,, has links to both the forums posting at Microsoft that first identifies the problem, and links to other press reports on the topic.

To its credit, the WSUS team seems to have distributed a fix for the problem over the weekend, a day or two after it first appeared. However, you have to be concerned when the Genuine Office Advantage team announces a voluntary pilot program, and the WSUS team designates it a critical update to a much larger universe. It sounds like typical corporate miscommunication among separate teams, but given the potential for such issues to have serious ramifications in enterprises, you'd think that Microsoft would make an extra effort to get it right in the first place.

Did you experience this problem? Did the solution work for you? Let me know at

Windows XP SP3 Released to Manufacturing
Microsoft has released the long-awaited XP Service Pack 3 to manufacturing. It will take several weeks to make its way through the manufacturing process and onto new systems and DVDs for TechNet and MSDN subscribers. In the meantime, Microsoft is preparing the service pack for release to the Web on April 29, through Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center.

SP3 has been available in various beta and release candidate forms since the end of last year. It will update both Internet Explorer 6 and 7, without requiring an update to the later version. An overview of features is available from Microsoft here. The list includes features previously found only on Vista, including black hole router detection, Network Access Protection and the Windows Imaging Component.

Have you tried XP SP3 yet? What's your opinion of it? Send feedback to

Microsoft Gets Back into Travel with Acquisition
Microsoft did quite well with its investment in Expedia several years ago, but is the time right for another foray into online travel? The company has just acquired a travel startup called Farecast.

Farecast makes predictions on whether airfares for specific destinations and flights are going up or down to help users purchase tickets at the best possible time. The startup samples many different fares and performs trend analysis so it can try to outsmart load management practices at airlines.

With more and more people swearing off air travel, do you think it's the right time for Microsoft to be investing in such a company? Give me your opinion at

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.


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