Originally introduced in late November in 2005, System Center Essentials is a software package that includes System Center Operations Manager, some System Center Reporting Server capabilities and Windows Software Update Services (WSUS).
System Center Essentials RC1 has close to a dozen enhancements including support for Windows Server Update Services 2.0 and 3.0. An update for the free patching tool, WSUS 3.0 beta release candidate, became available last week.
The SCE release candidate also lets IT managers schedule an automated discovery of computers from Active Directory, remotely support managed client and server computers and import Update catalogs from third-party software vendors.
RC1 has SQL Services-based reporting for hardware and software inventory monitoring, and setup improvements for SQL Server selection and file locations, as well as management packs that support Exchange 2003, Dynamics CRM 3.0 and Active Directory.
The download is available on the Microsoft System Center Essentials Web page.