Patch management company Shavlik is offering small networks of 10 or fewer PCs access to a new online patch management service at no cost.

The new service,, is designed to scan for missing patches on a machine-by-machine basis, or using an IP address range or domain, reporting the results through the web portal. Missing patches across Windows versions are rated for severity and can be downloaded using links to the appropriate vendor website or using the ‘FixIT’ button. The service also supports VMWare ESX and ESXi hypervisors.

The only setup requirements are that users download Shavlik’s Clickonce application and already have Microsoft’s .NET Framework 3.5 installed.

Longer term, the company looks likely to introduce a degree of automation to future versions, which could allow specified patches to be fixed on an ongoing basis without the need for manual intervention.

There are a number of standalone patch discovery tools available at no cost, but IT.Shavlik is unusual in offering to manage this for up to 10 PCs and 100 separate scans per month, more than enough for a network of this size. It is also pioneering in offering what can be a tricky technology as an online service rather than a standalone app, which it believes extends the degree to which complexity can be hidden.

Larger SMB networks can use the service in its ‘Pro’ form for a fee. The company quotes a price of ‘from $250’ (approx £175) for networks of between 10 and 1,000 PCs, which includes unlimited scan history storage. This is the sharper edge what the company admits is now a ‘freemium’ business model designed to lure users in with a free service before charging them as they grasp the value of the service or their needs grow.

Separately, the company has re-purposed its established distributed patch management system as ‘PatchCloud’, which morphs existing technology for enterprises into a more ‘cloud-like’ form if they happen to want that.

Given that the announcements come as the company has adopted a new logo, the embracing of the cloud could be interpreted as a low-key re-launch of sorts.

Shavlik still sells software licenses but the future will be dominated by platforms run by giants such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft on which third-party services will integrate technology, including patch management, from specialists such as Shavlik.