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Why ‘Second Tuesday’ deserves a chance

Nov 19, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoftPatch Management Software

* Give Microsoft’s ‘Second Tuesday’ patch-management program a break

Last week Microsoft rolled out the first releases in its newly announced scheme for patch management, dubbed “Second Tuesday” by some.

Under this plan, Microsoft will publish patches and updates on the second Tuesday of each month so that users, network managers and application administrators can better schedule the acquisition and installation of the maintenance releases. There may still be patches deployed in between “Second Tuesdays,” but only for major security fixes or other flaws or vulnerabilities which affect a large part of the user base.

As is becoming typical of any Microsoft initiative, the company was attacked on all sides. Notes in my inbox and quotes in trade press (and general press) stories indicate that some people, at least, think this is a bad move because:

* You might have to wait a month for a fix.

* There are too many patches to download and deploy at one time.

* Patch download and installation should be automatic (as in Windows XP).

* Automatic patch installation breaks applications.

My personal favorite, though, is the suggestion that Microsoft should scrap all of its applications and operating systems and then start over from scratch and design them so they don’t need to be patched. (If you don’t understand why that’s ludicrous, then perhaps you need to scout out a different profession.)

I also continue to get lots of e-mail about Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Initiative, which I’ve said nice things about. Some people just firmly believe that Microsoft can’t do anything right, so there’s no sense in saying anything nice about the company, its products or its initiatives.

If you have a pet, or a small child, there are different ways to train it to behave in an appropriate manner. You can punish it when it does something wrong. Or you can reward it when it does something right. But best of all, in many people’s estimation, is to do both – punish really bad behavior, but bestow a reward for spontaneous good behavior (that’s not the same as bribing the child to smile and give Aunt Mabel a kiss).

What’s true about training these small mammals is also true about training larger ones, and most corporations can be visualized as just a very large person. “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” my mother was wont to say after reading some of my more caustic or sarcastic outpourings. I hated that expression (I didn’t want to catch flies, I wanted to attract readers), but the sentiment is reasonable.

If Microsoft does something that could be considered good behavior, even if it has taken far too long for that good behavior to occur, then the company should be commended and rewarded. If not – if we continue along the lines of the people attacking the new “Second Tuesday” initiative – then there’s no comeback should Microsoft simply decide to ignore us and do whatever it wants (I know, some will suggest that’s what they do anyway).

If there are sound technical reasons why you deplore something Microsoft does, tell me about it. Even better, tell me about ways to improve the technology. But if all you want to do is rant on about how Windows 95 always crashed, then I’m no longer listening.