Microsoft has quietly started testing its Microsoft Update service, which will replace Windows Update later this year. Like Windows Update, Microsoft Update will give Windows users a central location to download Windows-related patches and software updates. But Microsoft Update will also provide update downloads for all supported Microsoft non-Windows applications, including Microsoft Office.
  
Microsoft has been planning the move to Microsoft Update for some time. I first wrote about the service way back in July 2003 (see the first URL below). But moving to Microsoft Update required a large amount of back-end work. First, Microsoft moved to the V5 software update engine that now provides the foundation for the current versions of Windows Update, Automatic Updates, and the company's other software update products. With that engine in place, the company is finally turning its attention to Microsoft Update.
  
The beta Microsoft Update site, which went live last night and is available (if temporarily) to the public (see the second URL below), is clearly a work in progress. The site is still branded Windows Update, not Microsoft Update, and no non-Windows updates are yet available. Sources at Microsoft tell me that the Microsoft Update beta will be made available to beta testers and Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2005 attendees in second quarter 2005 and that the final release is scheduled for third quarter 2005.

One Last Follow-up: The Future of Patch Management

Microsoft Update