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One Step Closer to Self-Cleaning Windows

Last month, most of the southeast United States was dealing with hurricanes like Rita and Katrina, but while the gusts were raging outside, I was watching the evil winds of Gael, Yaha, Zotob, et al. These are worms, Trojans and hostile applications that don’t have seasonal considerations and require you to keep updating your operating systems and applications.

Thus, it's with a hint of relief that Microsoft’s new patch management and update service, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), is finally ready for showtime. If you have been using Software Update Services (SUS), then you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. The new version is now a feature-rich product supported by a data tier, rather than the IIS-based freebie many of us have depended on in the past few years. With SMS and MOM on its flanks, the self-healing network is almost here.

WSUS does not cost anything; it’s the basically the recall mechanism Microsoft uses when it finds a defect that needs fixing in its products. Why ask you to pay for coming in for a fix of something that should not have been there in the first place? Operating systems are not defect-free; they can never be.

In the same way Ford and other vehicle manufacturers send out recalls for you to return your SUV or coupe to get a part replaced, does WSUS return to Microsoft for a patch, a fix, a service pack, or a new function for your computer? The big difference between cars and Windows is that you don’t have to take your software back to the store you bought it from every time it croaks. Without WSUS, you’d be going back to software store at least twice a week; and with the price of gas we would all go broke.

Of course, being connected to the Internet is a risky business and you need a way to quickly update your servers and desktops before the next tsunami of hostile bits comes bearing down over your DSL lines and cable connections. In fact, Microsoft touts WSUS as “the way to get secure, and stay secure.” It’s fast, easy to use, and clean. In short, it’s the software version of Windex in a bottle..

So what does WSUS do? For the most part, it does exactly what SUS does, and then some. It connects to Microsoft, gets a catalog of updates and patches that need application to your machines, and then lets you manually or automatically (unattended) update and patch at your will. WSUS, however, goes a lot further with respect to the products it patches. Like SUS, it patches and updates all Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 Server and Desktop products, but it can also patch server and desktop applications, such as SQL Server, Exchange Server and Microsoft Office. It can also technically update non-Microsoft products that are installed on the Windows operating systems.

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