Microsoft Ships Final Windows 2000 Update

It happened a bit later than originally planned but yesterday Microsoft made available the final major update to Windows 2000, Dubbed Update Rollup 1, for Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4) the upgrade contains all the security related updates Microsoft has shipped for Win2K since it first released SP4.

Microsoft originally planned to ship a Win2K SP5 release last year but the company canceled those plans and announced that it was working on the Win2K Update Rollup. "Microsoft believes the Update Rollup will meet customer needs more appropriately than a new service pack," a company press release notes. The Update Rollup should require less predeployment testing because the number of updates included in the Update Rollup is significantly lower than a service pack and Microsoft will have already released most of the contents of the Update Rollup as individual updates and hotfixes. "SP4 is the final Win2K service pack," Microsoft says.

Now virtually abandoned by the software giant, Win2K was the first mainstream Windows release to use the Windows NT kernel. Microsoft shipped client and server versions of this product in February 2000 then moved the NT kernel to the home market with the release of Windows XP in October 2001. Since then, Windows development has slowed dramatically. Despite major XP updates aimed at Media Center PCs and Tablet PCs, Microsoft is still struggling to ship its next major Windows release, code named Longhorn. For more information about Update Rollup 1 for Win2K SP4, visit the Microsoft Web site.

Apple Updates iTunes iPod 

Apple Computer has released a minor upgrade to its market leading iTunes digital music jukebox that adds the ability to subscribe to radio-like audio recordings called podcasts. The company also terminated its iPod photo product line and lowered prices on some iPods.

"Podcasting is the next generation of radio," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said. "Users can now subscribe to over 3000 free podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod. Until Apple integrated podcast support into iTunes, subscribing to these audio recordings was difficult and required third party software or add ins."

By making podcasting an integrated part of iTunes which is free Apple hopes to take the technology mainstream. It's unclear, however, how much demand exists for this kind of thing. On Apple's top podcast list, for example, four of the top ten podcasts are for niche technology oriented blogs which speaks volumes about the nascent nature of podcasts. Check out Windows IT Pro's recent foray into podcasting an overview of some of the products that won awards at TechEd US 2005 by Paul Robichaux.

As for its iPod line Apple made two key moves yesterday. First, it canceled its poorly selling and overly expensive iPod photo line and moved its color screen and photo slide show capabilities to the mainstream iPods. Apple now has two iPod models a 20GB unit for $299 and a 60GB unit that sells for $399. Apple also reduced the prices of two iPod models. The black U2 iPod Special Edition now costs just $329, a $30 premium over the regular 20GB iPod and now includes that device s color and photo features as well. The company also reduced the price of the 1GB iPod shuffle from $149 to $129 

Microsoft Releases Shared PC Toolkit Beta for Windows XP 

Microsoft contacted me yesterday to notify me about the public beta release of Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP, a software package for people who manage shared computers in universities, community colleges, K-12 schools, public libraries, community technology centers, Internet cafes, rural kiosks, and similar shared locations. The Shared Computer Toolkit for XP doesn't require a server infrastructure but does require that each PC runs XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

The Shared Computer Toolkit will specifically help people who do not have the IT knowledge or tools to effectively manage shared computers with a simple user interface and comprehensive documentation and help a Microsoft representative (noted IT pros) will also find the Shared Computer Toolkit useful. The key benefits of installing and using the Shared Computer Toolkit include easier configuration of shared computers enhanced protection against security threats and exceptional reliability.

Pricing for the Shared Computer Toolkit for XP hasn't been determined yet and Microsoft says that it will provide that information when the release ships later this year. The Shared Computer Toolkit for XP beta is available for public download from the Microsoft Web site.