Further delays to Microsoft patching product

Microsoft has delayed a significant update to its patch management tool and its single patching service until the first half of...

Microsoft has delayed a significant update to its patch management tool and its single patching service until the first half of next year because of security work related to Windows XP it had to do first.

As a result of the additional delays, "Microsoft Update", the planned successor to the current Windows Update service, and Windows Update Services (WUS), formerly known as Software Update Services (SUS) 2.0, are now expected to become available a full year later than originally promised. Both had already been pushed back six months.

Confirmation of further delays came at the second annual worldwide partner event in Toronto, where Microsoft is pitching security to partners as a "competitive advantage".

Before finishing up WUS, which is currently in beta, Microsoft had to finish work on Windows Update version 5, an in-between update to the Windows Update service that is instrumental for the distribution of the forthcoming security-focused Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, said Mike Nash, corporate vice-president of Microsoft's security business and technology unit.

"The Windows Update Services team is now transitioning from work on Windows Update version 5 on to Windows Update Services," Nash said. WUS and Microsoft Update are closely related, so both products have been delayed, he said.

Microsoft probably underestimated the complexity of building a more complex patch management product, said Peter Pawlak, a lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

"I am speculating that there were a lot of problems with the beta and that they had to go back and work on WUS," he said. Windows Update version 5 is not such a big deal that it would explain a delay of WUS, he added.  

 "While it is unfortunate because Microsoft is trying to [position its security features] as a competitive strength rather than a weakness, if they ran this out and it was really buggy and faulty they would do more damage to themselves than being late."

Microsoft Update is a single service for users to get patches for all Microsoft products, not just Windows and will be aimed mostly at consumers and small businesses, as Windows Update is today.

WUS is a significant update to SUS, Microsoft's no-charge patch management tool for business users. It includes improvements in patch delivery, status reporting, network usage and improved implementation and administration flexibility.

New functionality also includes the ability to patch not only Windows operating systems but also SQL Server, Office System and Exchange Server products.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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