For anybody who might not have heard yet, Autopatcher has been "cease and desisted" by Microsoft. Full details at http://www.autopatcher.com
What was Autopatcher? Well, as you know MS distributes patches online via Windows Update. But suppose you have a computer that's not connected to the Internet? Or you've just done an OS re-install on a machine and need to download all the patches since the last service pack, but the machine only has a 56K connection? Or you've got 50 PCs to update and your bandwidth isn't free, so you'd like to download all the patches once and then use them to update all your machines?
In any of these circumstances, Autopatcher was a godsend. It was a community-supported custom installer for MS' patches that was updated on a monthly basis. You could download Autopatcher, burn it on a CD, and then update any machine without hitting MS' servers. The installer was slick and easy to use (MS could have learned a thing or two) and it just worked.
Autopatcher was around for 4 years - long enough for lots of system admins, IT guys and other techie types to find out about it and even come to rely on it. They had a perfect track record of not screwing up patch installation, which is better than you can say for MS. But I guess Autopatcher either passed some popularity/public awareness threshold or else the lawyers got wind of it, and BOOM - down comes the hammer. (Not to be too much of billgco hater here, but does MS even pretend
care about their customers at all
It's moves like this that make me think that there will soon come a day when we wont have Microsoft to kick around anymore.