Microsoft announced that Software Update Services (SUS) 2.0 is now renamed Windows Update Services (WUS). The company released the new version of the product into public beta testing and evaluation on March 16.

In addition to scanning systems and installing missing updates, WUS can also uninstall patches from a system. WUS can manage updates and uninstallations (rollbacks) of single systems or groups of systems. Another WUS feature is the ability to control the interval that client systems check for new updates and enforce deadlines for when to install updates. To help manage bandwidth, WUS provides the ability to resume interrupted downloads.

WUS also has a stronger focus on reporting capabilities. Microsoft said that, “Administrators can view reports of missing updates for target systems, as well as success, failure, error, and detail information for new downloads from Microsoft, update distributions to downstream servers and target systems, update installs, etc. Windows Update Services logs extensive information on system and update deployment status to a SQL Server or MSDE database. When Windows Update Services is deployed in a hierarchical topology, logged status statistics are rolled up to the root server, providing a unified view for all the servers in the hierarchy and their associated clients.”

WUS contains new abilities to manage updates for Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, and Microsoft SQL Desktop Engine (MSDE). In addition, future updating capabilities for other products will be added to WUS without the need to upgrade or redeploy WUS. WUS supports Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 (SP3), Windows XP, and all editions of Microsoft Office 2003. The tool will handle security updates, both critical and non-critical updates, service packs, feature packs, and driver updates.

For a more complete explanation of the new Windows Update Services be sure to read Microsoft's documentation (in Word format) at their Web site. And for those interested in beta testing or hands-on evaluation of the product, you can sign up at the WUS Web site too.

WUS is part of what Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), which is in part designed to help reduce maintenance and increase the security of products. Other aspects of DSI include Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 and MOM 2005 Express; the former product is now in its final beta stages and the latter has just entered beta testing. Microsoft's System Center 2005, also part of DSI, is an integrated management suite that includes both Systems Management Server (SMS) and MOM 2005, along with a common reporting system. Microsoft also released new SMS feature packs into beta testing. The OS Deployment feature pack allows the provisioning of desktops, and the Device Management feature pack allows management of devices that use the Windows CE, Pocket PC, and SmartPhone platforms.