U.S. Government to Test Windows Patches Early

The U.S. Air Force will test patches before they are officially released as part of Microsoft's Security Update Validation Program.

The U.S. government will join select partners of Microsoft in receiving security patches as early as a month before they become generally available. The early-access program, already available to some customers, provides beta test versions of patches so customers can be prepared when vulnerabilities are publicly disclosed.

Microsoft signed a $500 million software deal with the U.S. Air Force last year, which stipulated that the Air Force will join the Security Update Validation Program and test patches before they are officially released. In turn, the military will become a beta tester for Microsofts updates.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Air Force will first receive the prerelease patches, which, following testing, will be distributed to other government agencies by the Department of Homeland Security.

The goal is to allow the U.S. government to stay ahead of hackers who prey on disclosed flaws in Windows that are not yet patched.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsoft patching Windows 98 and ME flaws.

Normally, it can take weeks of preparation before an update can be fully rolled out in a large organization, such as the Air Force with its 700,000 computers. But now, government agencies will know that the patch has been fully tested by the time it is posted for download.

Microsoft was clear that the Air Force will not receive mission-critical security patches before any other customer. Rather, it will serve as an external evaluation team with "limited and controlled access to security updates to test for application compatibility, stability and reliability in simulated production environments."

"Microsoft then incorporates feedback from the program into the development of the final security updates," a company spokesperson told BetaNews. "The end result of this program is higher-quality updates for customers to help ensure timely and effective deployment of updates."

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