| This 92 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 92 ( 1  3 4 ) > > || |
|The Second Browser War|
an article from Ben Hammersley
Ben Hammersley (of recent note for his automatic RSS validation) has written a great article about the current chapter in the browser wars - and the fact that a lot more may be at stake here than browser dominance.
His analysis really helps make sense of many business moves that look odd when seen outside this big picture.
|The difference between the two - between Microsoft control or that of open standards bodies - will be the battleground for the next two years, and one that promises fireworks. |
By wrenching control of the standards for building [web-based] applications away from Microsoft today, rivals hope they can prevent another near decade of Windows domination. Microsoft, for its part, is not going to go down without a fight.
The Guardian [guardian.co.uk]
|troels nybo nielsen|
Just a few minutes ago I made an edit on site in one of my websites through a browser. Those editors I have seen so far at hosting companies are clumsy and primitive and so are their ftp-clients, but I do not see any reason why they cannot be made as good as the best editors that are available for my own computer.
An internet based app means you only have to upgrade servers not workstations.
Web Based apps will not be used by everyone, until response times are as good as desk top apps.
Face it, currently they are not.
To me this discussion just shows that the developers want web based apps, the business's want them, but the users do not.
Why do we not all use webmail? I believe it is because every time you click, you have to wait. It might not be long, but compared to Outlook it is an AGE.
In the UK, a fine example of what is happening is with Tescos. Buying from them used to be a breeze. You downloaded a small app, then the stock, and then selected your products. (groceries) This gave Tescos problems, but was GREAT for the user. It was fast. Then they went completely web based. What a pain.
I go to the store again now. I tried Sainsburys web based store again just last week, and had to go and make another coffee every page that was turned. It was C**p.
While ever the user experience can be so poor, the user will not want it. (even if the developer and the business think it is great).
If I may add a short input here, we're forgetting the user point of view - namely his definition of "my stuff" (meaning 'family photos and other 'work and personal' hard-disk storage) and "their stuff" (meaning 'out there stuff'). I really can't see that Microsoft would expect one to 'seamlessly' think of searching both as one and the same. Different categories = different permissions and all would have to be set... or am I missing something here?
<added> Even after reading this thread a bit more throughally I'll leave the above though it is a bit besides the point : P
One additional thought though - shouldn't the 'application' part of web browsing be on the server side of things? I mean, I will go to a site that has nice spreadsheets because of the nice spreadsheets presented to me there. Does Microsoft's move mean that I wouldn't see that nice spreadsheet if a) my browser wasn't capable of calculating the raw data served to me to make a nice display and b) the site in question won't program its spreadsheet data in a way so that it can be compiled by my browser? I can't really see how this can be implimented. From both the Webmaster and User point of view. Not in this world, anyways. Will we all simutaniously have our brains reprogrammed to 'understand' and... change en masse to a propriatory system? What's more, I think that users would rather use tools from their own toolbox (aka computer) then having to go digging in someone else's.
On your first point, Josefu, I am continually amazed at how much confusion I run into with the non-technical user about what is "on their computer" and what is "out there". As a physical reality, it's a very fuzzy line anyway - if you are seeing it, it's on your computer for the moment, no matter what happens with the information when you go offline.
I think the non-technical end user can and will adapt to many different models and approaches for computing, if those approaches work intuitively and comfortably. Online apps need only to meet those criteria to succeed.
Hi All ,
One more thing to remember is that currently it is expensive to launch new S/W due to the stranglehold by a few major players in retail and developement , possibly the next generation of new developers may use web based shared apps to launch cheaply and quickly , and if we combine that with the abillity to provide contextual advertising many of the "" standards we believe that are set in stone today "" may be turned upside down by a new generation of developers .
Just 1 example when MS first released Office they piled it high and sold it cheap to gain dominence today it is not cheap so there is room on many areas ,
The great thing about the industry we are all in IT IS STILL YOUNG this applies to both Software and Internet
It's exciting and frustrating
"Why do we not all use webmail? I believe it is because every time you click, you have to wait. It might not be long, but compared to Outlook it is an AGE."
I don't know how many computer novices you know, or rather, people who don't have any interest in computers as such, and just use them to chat with friends or play games.
Just about everyone I know in the ages 15-30 who is not interested in computers and technology, but just use it for e-mail and similar, use Hotmail or Yahoo for e-mail. No one uses Outlook Express, and certainly not other e-mail clients.
So "normal" users definitely use web apps.
Non-techies do tend to use Hotmail, etc. but only until someone introduces them to proper email client software. It is normally the case that they simply don't know how to set up email accounts - the blind lead the blind.
This is probably the only way web apps will ever be able to mainstream - user ignorance.
Lol Tedster, I see you 100%. Even my wife is an example there: "How can I prevent people from downloading my images?" My answer: "If you want people to see them you can't!"
I think there remains to define "Web app". At least it's not clear for me. I will go and get my hotmail if it's stored on Hotmail's server - but would you call that an 'app'? My PHP/mySql coding and CGI scripts could be called such then. "Web app" for me means using - say - Photoshop on a remote computer.
The problem is the web based apps like Hotmail/Yahoo/Google need to catch up with the software apps Outlook/Thunderbird.
When you can have the same abilities in Outlook as you have in the online versions, why would we not want to use a centralized website for all our needs?
Usability is really holding us back, what do you think?
ForeverJason, you are speaking from your own perspective, and I certainly agree with you. I do not use webmail services for my everyday e-mail, but prefer an e-mail client (Opera/M2 - thank god I don't have to waste my time playing around with folders anymore).
However, as they exist today, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and other webmail services are used by computer novices simply because they don't care. It works for them, and they use it to send cute chain letters to their friends. Including their computer-savvy friends, who are obviously annoyed at newbies who don't know how to behave... :)
My point is, you as a computer savvy user do not represent what I believe to be the vast majority. To this majority, webmail works fine.
At least that's what I see among the people I know who are not into computers in the same way that I am, and probably you (your being in this forum does indicate that you aren't exactly a newbie).
This idea that only novices use webmail because they don't know any better is garbage.
I know a lot of people that use webmail because it is convient.(They use outlook at there place of employment so they do know how to use it)
It's amazing, they can come to my place and check there email in minutes.
When they are at work... same thing!
They don't want it downloaded to there home computer so when they are somewhere and want to see what So & So's email said, it is still there. Not sitting at there house.
Another thought: Web App Access = login/pass. This is important from a user point of view, especially vis-a-vis his interpretation of what's 'his' or ... I repeat myself : P
Thin-client computing is, at least for now, a passing fad. I remember when ASPs were all the rage and Citrix was basing its future on thin-client computing.
There are, and probably always will be apps that are just not appropriate for web use. I'd hate to try and use the software I designed to analyze user agents for my browscap.ini file in a web-baaed interface.
Plus there is still the issue of security. I don't want my bank account information, or even my e-mail on a remote server I have no control over and that might get hacked.
"Thin client" = computing device without a traditional hard drive
"Fat client" = computing device with a hard drive
As have been mentioned, cell phones and certain pagers, PDAs, "real" thin clients like Sun's, WebTV, kiosks...all of these are thin clients in relatively widespread use.
Will MS lose market share? Sure. Of course! It's not even a question of if...it's when! There is a maximum of 100% available for sharing.
Will the OS become the browser (forget web...think Internet)? Never happen...because they are two significantly different concepts whose individuality is threatened by all of this loose talk, sloppy talk, implying that one can or will become the other. You might as well ask if the engine (OS) will become the car (browser). The engine can exist and run just fine without the car, but the car would have a tough time getting anywhere with no engine.
The article describes an opinion that OPEN SOURCE development is the significant threat to MS, not the "web browser". And the author is correct. There's nothing that guarantees a shakeup in the proprietary status quo like large groups of people (getting larger) working to develop non-proprietary solutions.
Those of you who have been saying stuff like "thin clients will not be popular" or "people will always want big hard drives" have not been paying attention. If Moore's Law has any juice left at all, you'll be swearing by your hard drive long after the wireless molecular implants replace the network interfaces and the human brain becomes the processor and the hard drive together.
Remember 51/4" floppies? Funny stuff, now. Even the word "floppy" sounds funny. Remember data cards? Whooie, that was a slice of the future! Gone.
The future is coming whether you like your hard drive or not. It WILL be wireless. It WILL be remote app-driven. It WILL use personal systems you can not imagine being so tiny, now.
We use Photoshop and all the other memory-pigs because we have to, or because we are self-flagellating artist-types who like to pioneer in the computing world. When a realistic alternative presents itself, we'll embrace it.
Imagine speaking (or thinking) to your remote-app provider during the manipulation of one of your family photos: "Make us look really natural." Can Photoshop do that? Nope. Only the user can...if they know how...for the moment.
Don't limit your imagination to what you can find in an advertisement. The future will be nothing if not surprising.
Go OPEN SOURCE!
One last thing...
I was playing Star Trek over a teletype terminal in Vermont with students at MIT in 1969. There is no way anybody in my family would have even hit a key on that terminal for fear that they might destroy something.
Now even my grandmother has an email account.
In another forty years, remote-apps will be exponentially more user-friendly, server farms will be so redundant that we won't even use the word "redundant" to describe them anymore, access speeds will START at 11Mbps, and top out somewhere areound 4GBps (faster than your stinkin' hard drive), and the notion of having a "computer" in your home or office will be as quaint as the notion of having a ... um ... whaddyacallem ... "calculator" on your desk.
There is a lot happening at an incredible pace in the development of technology and its human interfaces.
As long as one company doesn't hold all the patents, we will all benefit.
I have webmail through my ISP. I use it - every day at the office. I use it - when I'm hunting a hundred miles from nowhere but staying in Panguitch in the trailer with a net cafe next door. I use it every day, no matter that I consider myself decently web savvy, and have a full-featured browser and ditto email client.
My brother uses his webmail when he's at a client's "place" in Africa. Or when he's at "home base" in Boston or Austin. It's easier than messing with a "local" solution.
My daughter uses webmail when she's here visiting. She lives in Germany.
What's not to love about webmail?
[PS: there was a STAR TREK GAME in 1969? Wow. The LAST SCHEDULED TV I WATCHED was the original Star Trek - in B&W (last family in Vegas to have a color tv....) in 1965....]
Trekkies are like that...
>launch [p]hoton torpedo [thrust 60% elevation 42.45º long 30.012 lat 42.347 ]
...(5-10 minute wait..and this is hard-wired to the MIT mainframe!)...
>Your photon torpedo missed
Come to think of it, that's kind of an analogy for the MS vs. Open Source/Standard issue!
PS: Congrats on remaining TV-free for all these years! Don't let "them" turn you into a lab monkey to find out how you did it!
Right. On. The. Head. - Bravo : )
That was just the thing - when trying to think from an 'everyday user' point of view on the 'browser/os' issue, I just couldn't fathom it and needed someone to tell me, as I myself didn't understand where this line was and or would be, their version of what was or wasn't IMHO it's exactly this kind of situation Microsoft is aiming for. Confusion to better reap more first-time uninitiated-to-be-future-product-dependent users.
I see the in-computer/server-side software issue is the same thing - these 'makers' want many to develop new habits and become dependent upon their product - but this time they want the user to come to their server to 'rent' it.
When I'm at home I use my Mail app to access my email accounts. When I'm away I link up to my ISP to get my mail. But that doesn't make the access my ISP provides me an 'app'. Or, Vkaryl, did you mean something else?
|Remember 51/4" floppies? Funny stuff, now. Even the word "floppy" sounds funny. Remember data cards? Whooie, that was a slice of the future! Gone. |
The old floppies, data cards and my beloved hard disk have one thing in common - they reside in _my_ computer, in _my_ room. This is the big difference to all those web app thin clients things. No matter how fast the connection is, 56kbit or 4gbit, my data is stored on a remote server. This server my be as redundant as Google's datacenter - my data isn't in my room anymore.
Of course there are a lot of solutions where the concept of centralized data storage is very handy. Mail is the most prominent of such solutions. But why should I need to store all my family's holiday pictures on a remote server? You mentioned: No need to update Photoshop anymore. But updating such an app isn't really that complicated anymore - and it also has nothing to do with centralized _data_ storage. (Not to mention that I would not be too happy to use a new version every day.)
Web apps are becoming more and more popular, that's a fact. But I don't see a chance, that they will be destroying Microsoft's business model within the next five or even ten years. All those visions I can read in this thread are very interesting, but looking back to all the visions I've heard in the past two decades, my impression is that the development of hardware was always underestimated, whereas the change of human-machine interaction has always been overestimated.
What do you think you would have answered if anyone back in 1986 had asked you, how do you interact with your computer in 2004? Do you think you would have said: I'm still using my mouse to drag along coloured icons?
|I don't see a chance, that they will be destroying Microsoft's business model within the next five or even ten years. |
I see every reason to assume that online apps are PART of Microsoft's projected business model. What is most of that proprietary IE functionality all about? Browser based apps. What is the integration of IE and Windows all about? Everything we've been discussing here.
This war is not over "whether" it will happen. The assumption is that it WILL happen, and the war is over who will set the standards. And if this envisioned future doesn't materialize in either form, open source or proprietary, well then there's lots of egg on lots of faces.
I really must beg to differ (again) on the polemics around where so and so application is operating... won't it just come down to the service provided? Personally if it be Photoshop and my photos: my computer. Be it remote messaging: another computer is acceptable but: if it be message storage, my computer.
Which brings up another question: how did Mac's 'iDisk' program make out? There's remote storage for you. Was it popular?
vkaryl...i can't imagine not watching tv it is one of the wonders of the modern age. people of real genius work there and produce incredible work. programs like The Office, Yes, Minister & Frasier genuinely make my life richer in the same way that Philip Glass & New Order do.
tune in buddy, you're missing out on something wonderful.
Josefu, you are saying what most of us agree to.
Heck, I even object to the idea that gMail is programmatically scanning emails to provide "relevant" ads to the recipients!
Personal documents will always feel better, close at hand. Business documents will always be more useful when stored and accessed from a common storage area. Secure documents will always be more secure offline.
There will definitely be continuing need for personal storage devices...but a 250GB hard drive? In a big box with a smoking processor and lots of silicon? Why?
Host the APPLICATIONS remotely and keep your private files locally. Use REMOTE access to data centers. Use your cell phone to update/print/search/write/sketch, etc.etc.
Your email is stored by your email service provider until you collect it, isn't it? Then you collect it, making a copy onto your local storage device, and...maybe...you then delete it from the server, right? Few people object to this type of activity which clearly involves trusting the email service provider to securely store your mail until you pick it up.
Is it just the length of time that you are willing to trust the provider to protect your data that is the issue? Are you distrustful of their ability or integrity to do the same or better job that your storage device does to protect your data? I hope you trust your bank to keep your data safe, and your credit card service providers. They keep and share your data for a lot longer time and in much more secretive ways than your email provider or family-photo-manipulation-app provider do.
The only thing we have to fear is ignorance. We are already living the remote app life! Rather than denying it, look for opportunities to contribute to its healthy, balanced, secure growth.
You'll sleep better.
|Host the APPLICATIONS remotely and keep your private files locally. Use REMOTE access to data centers. Use your cell phone to update/print/search/write/sketch, etc.etc. |
Have you ever actually used your cell phone to do that stuff? What a pain in the rear - I would rather carry a clunky laptop everywhere than use my cell phone to do anything. But I digress :P
Hosting applications remotely and files locally is kinda the opposite of efficiency. Storage is scaleable and storage costs are insignificant ... Bandwidth and CPU costs aren't. Go to any computer store and the desktop system on the "clearance" shelf is hundreds of times faster than yesterday's most advanced server. CPU manufacturers aren't going to stop making faster processors or slow down production, and it seems like an awful waste of resources to have a server do most of the work and workstations doing nothing. Why would I want to waste server resources running programs when I have all of this CPU power at my desktop not being utilized? And if the program is going to run from my own resources but isn't stored there, why would I want to waste time and bandwidth downloading the entire program to my system every time I want to run it? This isn't a very efficient use of resources, and the only "advantage" is that the MIS guys have less work to do.
So basically, you're saying I should buy more expensive servers to handle the extra load, more expensive network hardware to handle the extra traffic, and desktops that don't do any more than dumb terminals just so I can give my MIS guy - who I still have to pay a salary to anyway - less work to do? I don't think so. The way things work now is much better - applications run locally, FILES are stored remotely. Network traffic is reduced, large storage is only needed at two locations (one for the file server, one for the backup of the file server), and massively powerful desktops aren't underutilized. Also from a security/redundancy standpoint, it doesn't make much sense to store files on the workstation. Makes more sense for the files to be stored on the server, which is most likely running some type of RAID configuration as well as external or off-site backups. You're saying you want to configure that for every desktop? That makes the whole setup even MORE of a waste. Right now I don't even back up the desktops because I know that everyone's "work" is being saved to a file server. If a machine or the OS ever crashes, it's replaced with a ghost/master image and the user is back up and running in about 7 minutes.
That sounds almost exactly like how I handle our company's systems, too! It's cool how we are both using existing technology to its best effect. Docs on a server, apps on the workstation.
A quick note: remote apps do not download to the workstation, in a proper environment. The user logs into the app server and runs the app from there. The only bandwidth being used are things like mouse data, keystrokes, and display refreshes.
You may appreciate a scenario where the users have low-cost (-$100), low-power (1Ghz) thin clients while you spend all your money beefing up your internal network and server cluster, using centralized security and licensing to your benefit.
As I'm certain you will appreciate, our current situation calls for licenses for each app installation x # of processors in each workstation, IT guys running around fixing stuff in the workstations every day to keep them running those apps, equipment upgrades every year to run bulkier and more narrow app upgrades, custom security implementations to keep the users from storing stuff on the workstation's hard drives that they shouldn't be storing there, etc.etc.
That's a lot of disparite activity that is not necessarily productive, and could easily be corrected with a centralized installation.
When I work from my home office, I connect using the same lines everyone else does...tremendously slow compared to the promise of upcoming technologies, but I wouldn't drag my workstation or servers home with me just so I can work on some stuff.
Will I stick with this situation as long as there are individual user hard drives available? Boy, I sure hope not! The instant there is a change in technology that will allow me to move the apps to a server cluster, I am doing it. The moment the technology matures enough to allow me to move my users over to thin clients, I'm doing it.
But we are weirdos. We are actually in the business of making these things happen. MS tries to cater (read: dictate) to the business community, but what we are talking about is development of the infrastructure as a whole, including the teeming hordes of casual users.
THEY certainly won't have a server farm, but they would subscribe to a service that allowed them to use one, if it was super easy to use and gave them what they needed. Can we agree on that? We see it every day as people surf the web. THEY don't even know how the web works, let alone worry about protocols and storage. They want their movie download! Their thin media client plays back the movie for them without storing it on their hard drive. Not so different from running a remote Photoshop-type app (clearly NOT Photoshop, as it is too pudgy already) that allows you to save the finished render to your personal storage device (maybe your cell phone) when you are happy with it, but leave the monstrously large original file on the storage server, somewhere in Alaska.
Yeah, cell phones are a pain...now. Ever tried to take a picture with one? Oh wait...that works great. Ever tried to answer email with one? Oh wait...if you have the right phone, that's no problem, either. Ever tried to surf the web with one? Oh wait...the right equipment can solve that irritation, too.
The technology is/will be developed. The hordes will use it. Money will be made. Microsoft will hold 20% market share instead of 98%. We march on...
I see your point but I still beg to differ. Storing and/or personal or professional work/creations/material instills two doubts in my (and probably future users') mind: Speed (with those heavy photo retouches) and privacy (how do I KNOW they will get rid of the 'cache'?)
I tell you a company's success in this 'online' direction will depend on the relevency of the 'online' service provided.
I read your beads. Those are definitely thorny issues that will need to be addressed and solved before remote apps and storage are universally trusted.
I do hope that the Open Source/Standards groups show us the way before a proprietary solution gets embedded in the structure.
|A quick note: remote apps do not download to the workstation, in a proper environment. The user logs into the app server and runs the app from there. The only bandwidth being used are things like mouse data, keystrokes, and display refreshes. |
I was trying to point out that there are two types of client/server environments. The first is what you mentioned where everything runs from the server, using server resources, etc. The second is a "server-driven app" like ActiveX or Java where the application is loaded to the PC, used, and removed. Neither are an efficient use of resources for the reasons I mentioned in my last post.
|As I'm certain you will appreciate, our current situation calls for licenses for each app installation x # of processors in each workstation |
Do you really think that the "per user" license model is going to go away? It will be controlled by the number of active connections. If you have 100 employees accessing a server, you'll still need 100 licenses.
|custom security implementations to keep the users from storing stuff on the workstation's hard drives |
These are set once for each GROUP, and takes under a minute - it's not done per user or per machine. None of my employees can store files on their local hard drives and nothing special had to be done to the workstation to make it work that way, it's all controlled by the policies of their group. It happens automatically when their username is created in the system because they're assigned to a group upon creation. In other words, creating a user and giving them permission to stuff would be the same whether the apps were driven from the server or the workstation.
|That's a lot of disparite activity that is not necessarily productive, and could easily be corrected with a centralized installation. |
Again, all you're doing here is costing the company more money while giving the technical staff less work to do. Most updates are done automatically and don't require any intervention from the tech staff. If a workstation went down it still requires just as much tech time to get it back up and running whether there is software on it or its a dumb terminal because again, I have ghost images and hardware-based disk cloning that can replicate up to 7 copies of a hard drive at once.
Non-automatic software updates (such as new versions) are rather infrequent anyway, how often does Microsoft release a new version of Office? Once every two years? I'm not too worried about the amount of time it takes them to upgrade a workstation, that's what they're paid for. Besides, if I really wanted to cut corners they could just pull the drives (they are all in removable cages by the way) and re-clone them all from a master. The tech users are capable of doing their own upgrades to their own workstations, and all non-technical people all have identical system configurations. No matter how you look at it, it's still much more efficient both for management and for computer resources to run your network the way I'm doing it now vs. the way you're saying it should be.
|Yeah, cell phones are a pain...now. Ever tried to take a picture with one? Oh wait...that works great. Ever tried to answer email with one? Oh wait...if you have the right phone, that's no problem, either. Ever tried to surf the web with one? Oh wait...the right equipment can solve that irritation, too |
I'm really not interested in that crap. I use my cell phone for making phone calls. I don't have a picture phone, I don't read e-mail from my phone, I don't surf the web from my phone ... don't care to. I do enough of that stuff while I'm at the office, why on earth would I want to do it when I leave?
It is good to be reminded that there are many levels of user proficiency. I'm sure the employee profile you just described will be the dominant profile among all users around the world shortly.
While I acknowledge that there are better ways to do things, I maintain that a centralized system is optimal for maintaining security and up-to-date apps, if not in your office right now, then in other offices right now and in more offices soon.
It's neat to see the MS perspective is so prevalent! I had thought people would WANT to explore the alternatives, but I guess I underestimate how magical the comfort of running the same old stuff all the time can be in an MIS department. Sorry.
PS: How do you automate all of the MSWin updates that come out all the time? Do you let your users click the little notification thingy and update themselves? Do you warn them not to update the patches that screw things up, or do you just wipe their hard drive and ghost an older clone when that happens?
|I'm sure the employee profile you just described will be the dominant profile among all users around the world shortly. |
If you hadn't already noticed, that's the dominant profile now.
|While I acknowledge that there are better ways to do things, I maintain that a centralized system is optimal for maintaining security and up-to-date apps |
I'll give you partial credit for that one :) It is much "easier" to keep applications updated when they only have to be updated in one location. That's really the only advantage though, and the other disadvantages and general waste of resources outweigh that single advantage. How "easy" things are for the techs isn't my main concern. They're smart guys, they'll figure it out either way.
|It's neat to see the MS perspective is so prevalent! |
Have you ever stopped to consider that the "MS perspective" as you call is is so prevalent because it's better? This euphoric dumb terminal world you speak of already existed once, and it went the way of the dinosaurs because companies like IBM, Novell, and Microsoft came up with a better way of doing things. The dumb terminal days are the past, why would you want to go back to that?
|I had thought people would WANT to explore the alternatives |
I can see that you're the MIS guy and are looking to make your own job easier :) What you don't realize though is that the typical business owner doesn't care about whether your job is easier or not. Your job exists only to make sure that everyone else can do THEIR job. Business owners aren't passionate about whether one method of deploying applications is better than another for you, they care about making sure that employees can do their jobs and their company will function. Why do you see so many businesses still running Windows 95 and NT 4.0? Because it's all they need. I don't care how many alternatives there are, what I have works and works well. Why should I change it? So you can go home early? Get real.
|How do you automate all of the MSWin updates that come out all the time? Do you let your users click the little notification thingy and update themselves? Do you warn them not to update the patches that screw things up, or do you just wipe their hard drive and ghost an older clone when that happens? |
All workstations are running Windows XP Professional and all are properly licensed. No one uses Internet Explorer or Outlook Express and there has never been a patch released that has screwed up anything. Up until about a month ago we used the automatic update utility, which can be set to download updates automatically in the background and install them at a specified time. All machines would update automatically at 7:00 PM. MS patches are typically released the second Tuesday of every month, so whenever a new patch came out we would clone a new master image incase there was a problem in the future so we wouldn't be restoring an older version. Again, this is a hardware solution not software, so it only takes a few minutes to clone a drive. Never once was there a problem, however I don't use this method anymore. Now it's made much easier with Microsoft WUS (formerly SUS) which allows network-deployable Windows updates without having to touch the machines they're being installed on. You can read more about that here: [microsoft.com...]
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