Chief among the new announcements is the release of Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, and updates to Systems Management Services.
MOM 2005 offers the ability to profile and benchmark servers and track changes, including correlating changes with alterations performance, which can help identify problems with patches and updates.
SMS now includes the capability to push entire OS images down to workstations and to manage PDAs and smartphones.
"The importance of updates is highlighted by security issues," said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft, speaking at the company's IT Forum '04 in Copenhagen, Denmark. "You have to update before malicious code [is released]. There's no reason why the update shouldn't propagate faster than the malicious code - every aspect of updating should be automated."
With automation in mind, SMS will provide better facilities to set thresholds, schedule testing and automate delivery of patches in a controlled fashion, Gates promised.
Also, Windows Update Services went into public beta today, Gates announced. WUS is the baby brother of SMS, with limited features targeting the smaller organization. WUS is the successor to Windows Update, and will itself be replaced by Microsoft Update Services in the middle of next year, offering updating services for many Microsoft software products within a single framework.
Finally, an OEM deal between Dell Computer and Microsoft will see the ability to update the firmware on Dell systems using SMS as a single point. Dell gave Microsoft source code to its OpenManage software which has been incorporated into the OEM version of Microsoft systems management tools.