Microsoft on Tuesday shipped a release candidate of its enterprise security patch-management platform and announced that the unified software updating tool will undergo yet another name change.
Windows Server Update Services, formerly known as SUS (Software Update Services) and WUS (Windows Update Services), is expected to undergo a last round of testing before the final version hits the Web in the next few months.
The rebranded platform, which Microsoft Corp. is describing simply as "Update Services," is the corporate update management mechanism used by SMB (small and midsize business) and enterprise customers to apply Microsoft software updates.
When it goes final, a Microsoft spokeswoman said, it will be rolled out as a free download to customers of Windows Server (2000 and above).
Update Services promises a simplified place for IT administrators to assess, control and automate the deployment of Microsoft software updates.
Initial support includes Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Office XP, Office 2003, SQL Server 2000, MSDE 2000 and Exchange 2003, and a spokeswoman said the platform will support additional Microsoft software over time.
The oft-delayed unification of the update mechanism has been in the works for some time and includes the beta of Microsoft Update (MU), the successor to the consumer-centric Window Update service.
Microsoft Update provides a single location for users to get security and performance patches for Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Office 2003 and Exchange Server 2003.
The spokeswoman said the plan is to push users toward the MU platform to find product upgrades.
Windows Update and Office Updates, which are now used to push down patches and hot fixes, will remain in place, but users will be gradually encouraged to use MU for all security or performance patches.
According to Windows enthusiast site ActiveWin Network, the MU beta adds the ability for users to automatically download updates from Microsoft Update by product and type.
Among other things, the beta will provide more language support for customers worldwide; maximized bandwidth efficiency through BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) 2.0; the ability to target updates to specific computers and computer groups; the ability to verify that updates are suitable for each computer before installation; and flexible deployment options.
Beta testers will also see more flexible deployment options, new reporting capabilities, enhanced database options, data migration and import/export capabilities, and extensibility through the API.