Service Pack Manager 2000

This is an agentless patch manager for Microsoft products that installs in minutes. Its interface is not as friendly as other agentless packages reviewed, but it covers the necessary functions. Nit-picking it may be, but the tabbed interface separates operating system patches from other Microsoft patches by calling them OS and Product. It can be argued that Windows itself is a product and that "Application" is a better term for the non-OS fixes.

However, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with SPM 2000. The product ranks with HFNetChkPro and Ecora in many ways. Itautomatically discovers clients, separates the necessary patches and supplies Microsoft's information sheets giving vulnerability details.

Patch details are automatically or manually downloaded from Gravity Storm's mirrored sites. There are four to choose from in case one server is over-subscribed or not in use. This thoughtful touch is somewhat spoiled because the patches are downloaded from Microsoft (so a problem with the Microsoft site would delay the process). This could be inconvenient when important critical patches appear for newly discovered malware activity on the web.

Patches are downloaded via the patch status pane. Using a traffic light warning system, information is displayed for each client or grouping. Red means the patch has not been downloaded or installed. Yellow shows patches in the cache and ready to be installed. Green shows those that have been applied. A grey light means a fix is obsolete.

A profiling function allows groups of patches to be specified for application to a group of computers. Again, this could be made easier because the fixes are only referred to by their Microsoft codes. The ability to have a "tool tip" display giving an overview description would improve things.

The reporting function of SPM 2000 is rudimentary, but sufficient. Fixed reports give a summary of fixes and a detailed list by client category. These text-based reports can be customized to limit their scope – and length – by filtering out machines or groups.

Product title
Service Pack Manager 2000
Product info
Name: Service Pack Manager 2000 (Patch Management group test) Description: Price: $7,695 (1,000 managed computers)
Fast in deployment and operation. Has all the essential features to deploy Microsoft patches.
Needs more work to make it friendlier. Rough feel implies that it might not be trustworthy.
SPM 2000 feels like an application written for application developers. Technically everything seems to be there, but it needs to be tested for usability.

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