The Windows Update service will make it easier for systems managers to keep track of the numerous security patches attached to software by alerting them when upgrades are due.
In the past, the onus was on the user to subscribe to Microsoft's e-mail bulletin Technet Security Notification or to keep checking the company's Web pages. The only other alternative was to invest in expensive software to automate the task.
The laborious system for updating crucial security patches has been a long-running irritant to Microsoft users.
Under the Windows Update service, a server is scanned to ascertain which patches are relevant, these are then downloaded and automatically installed. This could relieve systems managers from much of the burden of keeping up-to-date with the numerous patches.
Graham Titterington, a senior analyst at Ovum, said, "As with all scanning services, some users may worry about what information Microsoft is gathering, but larger companies will be less worried [because they can check]. Many of these companies use security assessment software and I don't see Microsoft removing the need for this."
Microsoft has issued a warning over another security vulnerability in its Internet Information Services Web server software - the second warning of this type in two weeks.