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Beta for SUS 2.0 on hold for now

The beta trial for Microsoft's Software Update Services 2.0 has been briefly delayed. In an e-mail to customers, Microsoft offered some hints about its plans for the Windows patch management application.

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer has been insisting of late that his company will improve the way it distributes and manages software patches. But the beta trial for one of its primary delivery tools has been pushed back slightly without explanation.

The beta program for Software Update Services 2.0, including enrollment and the beta's start date, has been "delayed shortly," according to an e-mail to some IT users from the Microsoft SUS team, which also promised to provide more information in a couple of weeks.

SUS is a free patch management application that is bundled with Windows. SUS 2.0, which is due out later this year, will be expanded from just patching Windows to patching all Microsoft products, including Office, SQL Server and Exchange. The utility will also offer a feature called simple targeting, which lets customers target machines using a single dimension, such as a defined user group, Microsoft said. It will also allow some basic verification reporting, which is a tool that tells a customer whether a patch is installed correctly.

SUS targets customers with relatively simple computing environments who need to install the latest fixes on desktops and servers. SUS 1.0, with service pack 1 (SP1), was recently enhanced to provide Windows service packs in addition to the security updates, so now customers can use the utility to deliver Windows XP SP1 and Windows 2000 SP4.

Windows experts say SUS is growing in terms of its popularity. "The more I check around, I'm surprised at how many people are implementing it and finding it useful," said Brett Hill, a consultant and technical trainer who specializes in Microsoft products and is based in Boulder, Colo.

Indeed, at a recent meeting of the San Francisco Network Technologies user group, roughly 85 of the group's 1,000 members spent an entire Saturday learning how to use SUS. "Of that group, about half were determined to deploy it on Monday," said Douglas Spindler, president of the user group.


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