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WSUS 3.0 release candidate beta is ready

Microsoft's free patching tool is said to perform better and offer more flexible deployment.

The newest version of Microsoft's Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) free patching tool has inched closer to completion with the public beta for the release candidate, which was made available this week.

This latest iteration, which helps keep networks updated with necessary patches, includes a Microsoft Management Console-based user interface with advanced filtering and reporting. It is said to have better performance, operational reliability and flexible deployment that improves branch office support. It also provides more content access through the Microsoft Update Catalog site, the company said.

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What's all the fuss about WSUS?

"[WSUS] is popular particularly in the small and medium-sized companies that don't have the resources to use other products like [Microsoft's Systems Management Server]," said Laura Koetzle, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., the Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm. "Having something that semi-automates the patching process is very useful for them."

The original WSUS 3.0 beta was unveiled in April at Microsoft's Management Summit. Although the tool has always helped IT administrators keep their systems updated, Microsoft has continued to add features to the tool since its rudimentary version known as Software Update Services. Microsoft has renamed it twice, first as WUS, which it changed to WSUS and released in June 2005.

Many of the features in this version have been available in paid products for a while. Companies like Altiris Inc., which was recently acquired by Symantec Corp., BigFix Inc., Configuresoft Inc., Ecora Software Corp., St. Bernard Software and Shavlik Technologies sell patching products.

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