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Microsoft puts kibosh on AutoPatcher

Microsoft pulled the plug on AutoPatcher, a free patch distribution tool created by an independent group.

Microsoft requested that AutoPatcher, a free update distribution tool, cease to be offered for downloads, despite its four-year existence with no prior problems.

AutoPatcher was developed by a group of technologists including its project manager Antonis Kaladis, an IT security professional in Greece. It allows users to update their Windows systems, tweak their registry settings and update other software, such as Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java programs, without remaining connected to the Internet.

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"We received a take-down request [from Microsoft] regarding our download page. At this point it is unclear to us what the reason behind this is, however, [because] such an issue was never expressed until today," said Kaladis in an email interview Wednesday.

Neowin, now a news and discussion site, was the original home of the AutoPatcher project, he said, and Microsoft often participated in forums and community events. Microsoft also requested that Neowin cut its relationship with AutoPatcher, which it has done.

Microsoft said it requested that AutoPatcher stop redestributing Microsoft updates because of its security concerns about third-party distribution of its updates. The company also said that the updates are Microsoft's intellectual property and its unauthorized use is an infringement of Microsoft's copyrights.

The project's Web site is still up, but the tool is no longer available. Its update packages allowed users to have a big group of patches downloaded as one, and then the updates could be automatically distributed without users remaining online.

At least one IT manager, who declined to be identified, said that AutoPatcher has been incredibly convenient for his company, allowing him to hand out USB devices with the patches, keeping its online resources free to do other work besides continuous patch downloading. "Forcing systems to go to an online resource for a security update is counterproductive because that same system is already vulnerable," the manager said.

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