AutoPatcher lives

Eileen Kennedy, News Writer

Windows administrators who have missed AutoPatcher, an independent, free patch distribution tool that was shut down by Microsoft, will be relieved to hear it may be making a comeback.

In August, Microsoft told AutoPatcher to stop making the tool available. AutoPatcher combined Microsoft and other application patches, along with registry tweaks, without remaining connected to the Internet. Antonis Kaladis, AutoPatcher's project leader, said this week he hopes to have the new version of AutoPatcher available in early October.

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Despite having no complaints about the tool during the last four years, in August Microsoft deemed AutoPatcher a security issue. Microsoft cited third-party distribution of its updates a problem because a threat could be added once it left the Microsoft Web site. It also said that the updates are Microsoft's intellectual property and its unauthorized use is an infringement of Microsoft's copyrights.

Kaladis complied and removed the tool from AutoPatcher's Web site as Microsoft's legal department requested.

Although Microsoft cited security issues as the reason it wanted the tool to cease, Kaladis suspects the company is more concerned the tool might interfere with its anti-piracy software, Windows Genuine Advantage. WGA proves Windows' software legitimacy, checking to see if machines have legitimate Windows software before letting it download the patches from Microsoft's site, Kaladis said.

Microsoft said in August that it was concerned with security issues, not issues with WGA.

Kaladis said that IT managers don't have to worry about the process changing too much from one version to the next. "There will be no difference as to how you use AutoPatcher, only how you get it."

Previously, AutoPatcher gathered the updates from Microsoft and other sources, then bundled them into one large package, which IT managers then downloaded from the Web site. The new tool will still be downloaded, but once an IT manager has done so -- and chosen which Windows server update package he needs -- the tool will go to Microsoft's Web site and retrieve the necessary patches. AutoPatcher will download the updates straight from the source then gather up all the other patches it has collected from other sites.

After all the updates are downloaded, the tool will then tie them together, he said. IT managers can then distribute them as they always have, Kaladis said.

"I think people are going to really like it and hopefully Microsoft will too," he said.

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