Security Rollup Planned for Windows XP

Microsoft is hurrying to produce a post Service Pack 1 security rollup package for Windows XP, reversing its August decision to rely solely on Windows Update to deliver individual patches.

Since it came to light that Windows XP SP2 was delayed until at least mid-2004, pressure has mounted for Redmond to tend to customers without broadband connections.

BetaNews has learned that in response, Microsoft has tasked beta testers with evaluating the detection and installation of a package that installs multiple patches simultaneously, collectively called a "rollup."

The pre-SP2 rollup, which incorporates 22 previously released updates, is due to be released to manufacturing on September 24. It will be available for both pre-SP1 and post-SP1 installations of Windows XP -- effectively superseding SP1b.

Microsoft would not confirm the rollup beta test, but acknowledged the company was considering its options. "In an effort to make updating easier and more convenient for all of our customers, we are investigating multiple options for distributing updates," a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews. "We will have more details at a later date."

Although Microsoft was sending mixed signals regarding its intentions to update Windows XP prior to the date outlined on its product lifecycle Web site, this impending rollup release marks a reversal of course.

In an August chat session regarding the Blaster Internet worm, Microsoft product manager John Hazen said, "We do not currently have plans to create a Security Rollup Package for Windows XP, but are exploring ways to make these fixes more readily available and easier to install together."

The company dignified its decision by stating that Windows Update has worked out so well that more and more customers are retrieving updates "real time," rather than waiting it out for the release of a full-fledged service pack.

In addition, the unexpected delay of Service Pack 2 has led many Microsoft insiders to speculate that new features are in store for Windows aside from the usual assortment of updates.

These critical and security fixes are required for all new PCs which currently ship out of the box with SP1b installed. All in all, the updates weight in at a hefty 30 megabytes. Microsoft would not say whether or not the rollup would ship to OEMs.

Rumor and speculation has pointed to the ongoing PC Satisfaction trial as a likely candidate for inclusion into the operating system; although nothing concrete has emerged to confirm suspicions.

PC Satisfaction includes services that dwell beyond the customary boundaries of Microsoft's usual product offerings. Anti-virus scanning, a self updating firewall, and programmatic backups are all features of the trial.

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