Microsoft Offers Windows Server 2003 SP1 Blocker Tool 

As it did with Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), Microsoft will make available a tool to block the automatic deployment of Windows Server 2003 SP1 via Automatic Updates. The blocker tool will give system administrators who aren't ready to deploy Windows 2003 SP1 more time to prepare.

"This mechanism blocks the download of Windows Server 2003 SP1 via Automatic Updates while allowing Automatic Updates to download all other security updates," a Microsoft representative told me. This mechanism affords systems administrators additional time to put in place a patch management solution outside of Automatic Updates. Most enterprises manage updates via Systems Management Server and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) so this affects only a handful of enterprise customers.

Windows 2003 SP1 shipped in late March and has been deployed to more than 2 million servers worldwide Microsoft says that the blocking tool will be in effect until March 30, 2006 or about 1 year after the release of Windows 2003 SP1. To learn more about the free tool or to download it visit the Microsoft Web site.

Microsoft to Ship Digital Image Suite 2006 

Microsoft announced yesterday that its next generation digital imaging software Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006 is available for preorder and will ship to consumers on July 5 Digital Image Suite 2006 includes all the software tools consumers need to organize manage edit and share digital photos.

"Microsoft understands that photographs are most valuable if you can find them, make them great, and share them with loved ones," Microsoft Home and Retail Division Marketing Manager, AnnMarie Thomas said. "With Digital Image Suite 2006 consumers can find snapshots in just a few clicks, enabling them to spend more time turning their pictures into masterpieces they are proud to share."

Although Digital Image Suite 2006 visually resembles and works much like its predecessor, this version includes a wide range of new features. The product now supports video management as well as image management providing one location in which to manage and organize digital photos and movies. You can rate flag and share movies just as you can images. The suite also lets you edit various raw image formats and includes a new device synchronization feature that lets you use Windows Media Player (WMP) 10 to share digital images with portable devices. Digital Image Suite 2006 also includes Photo Story 3.1, the latest version of Microsoft's digital photo slide show solution which adds photo quick edit features.

I've been using Digital Image Suite 2006 for a few weeks and will review it soon for the SuperSite for Windows. The product will sell for $99 but will come with rebates worth as much as 40 off. 

Microsoft Preps Money 2006

Microsoft will ship Microsoft Money 2006 to consumers on July 5. Money 2006 provides new online banking tools and an all in one solution for consumers seeking to manage their finances.

"Money 2006 was designed to build on the rising trend of online banking by offering all of the consumer's financial information in one easy to use location," Anne Quaranta the senior product manager for Microsoft Money said. "With the tools and information Money 2006 provides consumers now have a complete view of where their money is and has been and understand where it is going"

Money 2006 includes an enhanced spending tracker for managing expenses the ability to pay bills from multiple accounts and improved investment tracking features. As with Digital Image Suite 2006, consumers can preorder Money 2006 starting today at Amazon.com.

Money 2006 Standard Edition retails for $29.95. Money 2006 Deluxe Edition costs $59.95 and Money 2006 Small Business Edition costs $89.95. However, the products come with different rebate amounts.