Microsoft Update Enters Beta Testing

As expected, a beta program for the Microsoft Update (MU) service has opened up to solicit feedback from testers and troubleshoot prior to the site's scheduled launch later in 2005.

The site unifies Microsoft's patching services and will be the primary destination for updates to Windows, Office and other applications. Microsoft Update was first announced by Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates during his RSA Conference 2005 keynote.

"Update consolidation is a natural extension of the original Windows Update philosophy. Separate Windows and Office update mechanisms are burden for customers, one that needs to be remedied," said Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox of the beta.

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Over 25,000 testers will be participating in the MU pre-release program, mostly drawn from the same panel of testers as the Windows Update version 5 beta.

Jupiter's Wilcox noted the large tester base is necessary for Microsoft Update trials. "An automatic update mechanism is something Microsoft has to get right first time; version three success isn't good enough. The large number of testers will help Microsoft work out the ugliest, potential problems ahead of official availability."

Microsoft MVPs, customers and partners will also be participating in the test to even out the population to include individuals who are proficient in Office, Exchange and SQL.

As of Tuesday, testers are being asked to fill out End User License Agreements (EULA) before they can take part in the beta program. Those selected will be asked to submit bug reports, participate in surveys and newsgroup discussions.

Nate Mook contributed to this report.

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