TECH NOUS You Have Updates

In case you’ve ever doubted the necessity for software updates, try installing an old anti-virus or spam-blocking program and see how ineffective it is. Your computer will be zapped by squadrons of pop-ups and system-draining nasties in the blink of an eye.
In the modern computing environment it’s crucial that users take up every new software update on offer (provided you’re running the appropriate program, of course). After all, these updates are released for very good reasons.
In fact, as I’m writing this, Mr Gates is sending my computer 10 new security updates for Windows XP, all free of charge. (When I see the words “Security Update”, I don’t think twice about the need to download them.)
Back in June Microsoft announced two essential new tools. Both Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Microsoft Update (MU) are designed to update your updating experience.
According to Brett Roberts, manager platform strategy and security for Microsoft New Zealand, the two new tools are meant to help provide more streamlined and cost-effective software updating experience.
“They will reduce complexity and make update management intelligent, reliable and consistent,” he says.
Most IT managers, or those charged with IT responsibility, will no doubt have seen the announcement which came through recently. But just in case you weren’t on planet Microsoft at the time, here’s reminder.
WSUS, the successor to Software Update Services (SUS), is an update management component of Windows Server that allows administrators to more easily assess, control and automate the deployment of Microsoft’s software updates. It’s all in the name of better securing Windows environments and minimising downtime.
The new WSUS component can be downloaded at www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/updateservices/downloads/WSUS.mspx
MU is the next generation Windows Update and delivers everything currently sent through WU, plus high priority updates for Office and other Microsoft applications. Users effectively now have single destination for updates. MU still incorporates the automatic update functions, which can be accessed at update.microsoft.com.
Two other updating tools were scheduled for release last month. Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 Inventory Tool for Microsoft Updates gives organisations new security update scan tool for enterprise patch management – and it will enable the detection and deployment of the latest security updates and product service packs.
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyser (MBSA) 2.0 helps small and medium sized businesses analyse their security state and detect common security mis-configurations and missing security updates.
Keeping software updated is fundamental component of managing any computer network and will be significant part of the TCO equation for many years, according to Microsoft.
By keeping it simple and automating more of the updating experience, its customers can start to roll out updates more quickly and with minimal costs. There should be no “will I or won’t I?” factor. The whole process will become much more streamlined and hassle-free – updates will just quietly happen in the background, leaving you to get on with the job at hand.
Next year of course, the software giant will release its XP replacement (still going by the code-name “Longhorn”), and the update process will be an integral part of the new operating system. Microsoft is promising an infrastructure that starts, runs, communicates and stays more secure than any other desktop operating system it has delivered in the past. Longhorn will be long on security features and will come with integrated anti-malware capabilities to help protect you and I from adware, spyware, “phishing” scams and other threats.
Perhaps with the release of the new operating system we’ll all be spared from the annoying and frustrating intrusions of the “cookie-monsters” and “spam-mongers” out there for at least little while. Okay, we live and dream.

Glenn Baker is regular contributor to Management.
Email: [email protected]

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