Some months behind schedule, Microsoft has finally launched its new corporate software update service, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Announced at this week’s TechEd conference, the no-cost tool will for the first time give Windows Server 2003 administrators an integrated way of updating and patching a variety of Microsoft software in addition to the server software itself.

The new version will support updates for Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Office XP, Office 2003, Microsoft SQL Server 2000, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) 2000, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, with other types of Microsoft software promised for future releases.

The company appears to be happy with the new name for its corporate patching service, having already changed it twice from Software Update Services (SUS) to Windows Update Services (WUS) in a short space of time.

The company also announced the overhauled version of its Windows Update service, now known as Microsoft Update (MU), which provides the engine that underpins the WSUS service. As with the corporate service, Microsoft Update will allow users to update a range of Microsoft software without having to remember to visit different destinations on the Microsoft website.

"Because the new services and technologies draw information and updates from a single source - the Microsoft Update catalog - and use a common polling engine (provided by the new Windows Update Agent), our customers will have a much more integrated and reliable update management process," said Security Business & Technology Unit vice president, Gordon Mangione in an interview on the Microsoft website.

Two further tools were announced for release in mid-July. Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 Inventory Tool for Microsoft updates will provide enhanced patch management and detection, while Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) 2.0 is aimed at small businesses looking to analyse the state of their software security and identify mis-configurations or missing software.