Microsoft Slips Security, Management Betas Out Door

The debut of Windows XP Service Pack 2 Release Candidate 1 last week during a company security Webcast and at the Microsoft Management Summit 2004 in Las Vegas gave the industry more assurance that the much-anticipated Windows update will ship on time,before the end of the first half of the year.

The first beta was released to a select number of testers in December, but the RC1 that hit the streets last week will be available to a wider audience for corporate testing, said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit.


Windows XP SP 2, considered more of a security upgrade than a service pack, will be out by the end of the first half of 2004.

Nash demonstrated several new features in RC1, including the Windows Security Center, the default Pop-up Blocker, and the Windows Update V5 Release Candidate 1. He also said Windows XP SP2,considered more of a security upgrade than a service pack,will be out by the end of June, as promised.

The company also plans to release its Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004 by the end of the first half and the security-enhanced Windows Server 2003 SP1 during the second half, Nash said.

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Some observers were disappointed that some other patch, operations and systems management offerings have slipped to at least the second half of the year.

Microsoft also last week released the first beta of Windows Update Services,formerly known as Software Update Services 2.0,for Windows Server 2003, but said final code will not be released until the second half of the year. SUS 2.0 was slated to ship in May.

Additionally, Microsoft announced the availability of the final beta version of its Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 and the first beta version of System Center 2005, a bundle of Systems Management Server 2003 and MOM 2005.

While the MOM upgrade was expected in the middle of this year, one systems integrator said it is more important for Microsoft to ship its security updates than any management product. "Large companies have solved the patch management problem with a lot of money [spent on third-party offerings], but not everybody has," said Patrick Hynds, CTO of CriticalSites, a Nashua, N.H.-based developer and systems integrator for Microsoft and IBM. "With server consolidation, management has taken a backseat for a while."

The software giant also detailed plans to integrate and extend its separate and distinct patch management technologies resident in Systems Management Server and Windows Update Services. In the future, for instance, System Center will access and "suck" software updates from the same Windows Update Services code embedded in the Windows Server, executives said.