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Microsoft Unveils New Security Service

Microsoft Corp. has released a free service to replace the mechanism it currently uses to patch Windows computers. The new service, known as Microsoft Update, supplants the traditional "Windows Update" system and promises several new improvements.

If you're using Windows XP or XP Professional and have automatic updates turned on, you may have already received a notice prompting you to download the new Microsoft Update, though if I recall from seeing this notice on my screen last night at home Windows Update called it something different, like "package installer." (Automatic updates are not available for older Windows versions, such as Windows 98.)

Microsoft Update fixes a few inconsistencies long present in Microsoft's patch strategy. For example, Microsoft's automatic update feature is supposed to allow users to automatically download and install all "critical" patches from Microsoft, but Windows users running Microsoft Office have usually had to visit the Office Update Web site and manually apply patches for security flaws in Office, which includes programs like Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outllook.

With Microsoft Update, users can have critical Office patches installed automatically if they so choose. Microsoft also is tweaking the Windows Update Web site so that it will offer Office fixes for those who wish to continue applying Windows patches manually.

Keep in mind that if you use Windows XP and want to continue to install updates manually, sometime in the next few months you will need to participate in Microsoft's anti-piracy program, called "Microsoft Genuine Advantage." That program will ask users to verify that they own a valid Windows license key; those who do not will be barred from manually downloading patches from Microsoft Update, though a Microsoft spokesperson would not be more specific as to when this would kick in - other than "sometime later this summer." Windows XP users who do not want to participate in Microsoft's anti-piracy program will still be able to get patches via the automatic update feature.

There are other improvements in Microsoft Update: The old Windows Update offered fixes for problems found only in the Windows operating system, but the new Microsoft Update also will offer patches for other Microsoft products, including SQL Server and Exchange Server. Microsoft has indicated it plans to add support in Microsoft Update for third-party software products, though the new Microsoft Update service does not yet offer this feature.

On a side note, several security vendors have spotted an old scam that has apparently been raised from the dead -- viruses masquerading as e-mailed "patches" from Microsoft. According to an alert published by Websense, a message circulating online now claims to be a Microsoft security bulletin containing a security patch that fixes multiple problems in Windows. But if a user clicks on the link provided in the missive, it will try to download a program that installs a version of "SDBot," a nasty program that you never want to see on your machine.

By Brian Krebs  |  June 29, 2005; 12:11 PM ET
Categories:  New Patches  
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Comments

Sounds like Microsoft is finally catching up to Apple agan... Mac OS X Software Update has been handling all of the Apple software updates since day one of OS X.

Posted by: kreiggers | June 29, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

You know I wish Microsoft would just build software like an automobile manufacturer builds cars. I know they make mistakes too, but the only time I stop it is to fill it up with gas. You imagine if we had to download security software just to make sure our automobiles did not get hacked almost every day!

Posted by: Tom Johnston | June 29, 2005 3:02 PM | Report abuse

What is this SDbot virus and how do I know if I have it? I've ran virus checks on my computer but I want to be sure that I don't have it.

Posted by: Louis | June 29, 2005 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I am looking forward to the day, when I have my new computer and all Microsoft programmes will have disappeared on it.
Microsoft has never produced faultless code. Neither under DOS nor under Windows.
When there was DR-DOS and Novelle DOS on my machines there were no problems.
Microsoft's marketing has been excellent their products have never been.

Posted by: W-D Krueger | June 29, 2005 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I just hope that anti-microsoft people don't start making a big fuss over the "monopolistic behavior" thing again...
I think its a good idea, anything that reduces the number of times I have to manually update software is good...

Posted by: rgarg | June 30, 2005 3:01 AM | Report abuse

Why do so many jerks compare computers to cars ? Current software complexity is fighting an hourly battle against the misbeguided and felonious talent of hackers. Give Microsoft a BREAK and, as an aside, the MAC never has and never will be supported by the software industry--- get a REAL computer !

Posted by: Stan Olenick | June 30, 2005 3:39 AM | Report abuse

Very good site, congratulations! the xmen

Posted by: xmen | April 18, 2006 12:02 AM | Report abuse

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