Vista Update Management ProcessI was browsing the TechNet web site for solutions to a couple of great WSUS questions I received in e-mail, when a search result caught my eye:

End to End Update Management – How Windows Vista Reduces the Pain of Update Management

Here’s the paper’s “executive summary”:

“This white paper describes how the Microsoft Windows operating system Windows Vista improves the update management experience for both information technology (IT) professionals and end users. The Microsoft four-phase update cycle highlights the changes in the end-to-end update experience of IT professionals. The paper also addresses the changes to the end-user experience resulting from the new Microsoft Update (MU), Microsoft Windows Update Agent (WUA), the new version of Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), and the reduction in reboots required when updating the Windows Vista client.”

My take on the paper:

It lays out quite nicely the goals of improving the update experience, for end-users and IT Pros alike.  Easy assessment and detection tools.  Smaller updates.  Quicker transfers.  Fewer reboots.  Overall – less disruption.  The article is worth the read if only to understand that Microsoft is trying to make the process better, and has the tools for you to do it.

“Wow.. I can hardly wait to get my hands on this stuff, Kevin.  Do I have to wait for Windows Vista to improve our Update Process?”

Emphatically – NO! 

Okay… I have to say I’m a bit dissappointed at the way this article mixes how much better it will be when Windows Vista ships.. and “blah blah blah in the Windows Vista timeframe blah blah”, with the technologies and tools that are already available

Many of the technologies and improvements that the article describes are available NOWMicrosoft Update is HERE!  And WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) gives you the flexibility and power as the article describes, TODAY!  Please don’t wait for Windows Vista.  Read the article and investigate these great resources if you haven’t done so already.

“There’s got to be something new in there, though, right?”

Yes, there are a couple of great tidbits.  For example – Windows Vista is a single binary (hardware and language independent), which means you have fewer images to patch, so less time patching and testing prior to rolling patches out.  New technology supporting fewer reboots is hinted at.  The Windows Update Agent (WUA) is going to be a standalone application, for a “more consistent and reliable end-user experience”.  BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) is improved to resume downloads based on state that now carries over even after a reboot or disconnect, and Windows Vista will include a download manager that can help you manage current download jobs. 

My favorite new feature is going to be WIM (Windows IMages), which is a disk image format that can be patched directly.  Yep.. you heard me… you’ll be able to have images of installed Operating Systems that you can patch directly into… so your distributable images will be kept up-to-date without having to build a machine, patch it, and re-capture the image.  That’s HUGE!  (And it’s just a small taste of what WIM will be able to do.)

So… read the article with the understanding that a lot of what it talks about is already here, and that things are definitely going to get even better!

And the disclaimer at the end of the article applies to my posting as well:
“Note: Features discussed on this site are subject to change. Some may not be included in the final product due to marketing, technical, or other reasons.”