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Windows Update workaround in the works

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Research commissioned internally by Microsoft amongst its corporate users has highlighted an unexpected gripe, sources tell The Register.

The number one Windows bugbear, is that there are too many updates. Not just to the OS (annual revisions of Windows mean that a newer version is ready by the time a large organisation completes the role out of the current product) but private research reveals that the Update mechanism is out of control, with users unable to prevent individual staff downloading the latest Media Player, for example, unless they block access at the corporate firewall.

However Microsoft is taking steps to tweak the Update function.

Individual corporate users won't be able to update their workstations from Microsoft servers. By default, Windows Update will look for a copy on a domain controller of the sys admin's choice. The Beast is also expected to announce, to great fanfare, that it's consolidating updates into major releases, with longer intervals between issues, say sources.

The revised Update mechanism is also an attempt to address the avalanche of minor security patches which administrators are obliged to install, given Microsoft's problems. "The patch treadmill doesn't work," Bruce Schneier concluded in July.

This research caused some consternation, we hear, because product managers had worked under the assumption that Looking Busy showed they took security seriously.

Given the level of corporate dissastisfaction in the big Windows shops, Windows Update is due to get an overhaul before Longhorn - the next major revision of Windows XP.

What we don't know - and it's unlikely a decision has even been made at Redmond - is whether Microsoft will use Windows updates as a carrot to induce home users to sign-up for its subscription licenses. Right now, the Windows Update revision will only applies to business users, many of whom are already covered by subscription-style licenses. ®

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