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Microsoft patching: Still painful after all these years

We asked readers to tell us if Microsoft’s efforts have made the patching process any easier.

By , Network World
July 19, 2011 04:43 PM ET

Network World - The spring of 2011 has seen some of the largest Microsoft Patch Tuesdays ever.  In April, Microsoft tied its all-time record with 17 updates that fixed 64 vulnerabilities.  In June, the company issued another biggie, with 16 updates that fixed 34 vulnerabilities.

Microsoft knows that patching Windows, Office and its other software is a hardship on its users. The company says it has tried to limit the pain in a number of ways: setting aside a monthly day to issue patches, alternating months in which it issues many patches with months in which it issues fewer patches, and creating a rating system to help IT professionals know which patches to test and install first and which can wait. It issues a heads up on the patches the week prior to Patch Tuesday, too.

Have its efforts made patching systems any easier? We asked readers to tell us. Short answer: no. Readers say patching is a big a drain on resources as always. And this is true even for companies who have invested in third-party patch management tools. On the other hand, this also means that overall patching hasn’t gotten worse.

In a short survey of 171 IT professionals, we gleaned how people are handling patching.

The following series of PDFs includes the full survey responses, as well as some cross sections of the responses by company size and other factors.

PDF of full responses
PDF of responses from small companies, managing less than 100 servers
PDF of responses from mid-sized companies, managing 1000-5000 servers
PDF of responses from companies that use third-party patch management software

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

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