500 Hour Test of Tomorrow's Windows "Vista"

Windows Update

The importance of the Windows Update function has just kept increasing over the last few years. Ever since the introduction of viruses such as Sasser that took advantage of Windows security holes, it has been essential for users to keep their operating systems up to date. As the Sasser virus was making its rounds, a patch to repair the security hole had already been available for a month. The virus was able to spread so fast and far only because a majority of users still hadn't updated their systems.

This painful bit of recent history explains why Microsoft keeps working to raise user security consciousness. When Service Pack 2 for Windows XP was installed, users were strongly encouraged to turn on Automatic Updates. Windows Vista does likewise during its installation, and requests that users turn this function on as a matter of routine.

There is one big difference here, though, when compared to older Windows Update versions. System updates no longer access the http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ Web site using a Web browser. Instead, they originate only from the Windows Update entry in the Start menu.

Only from the update software: browser-based updates don't work any more.

That said, users don't have to rely solely on automatic update downloads. The Windows Update program also permits users to start a manual search for new updates. Likewise, users can manually select individual components that they choose to download and install. Forced installations don't exist, except in the case of updates to the Windows Update function itself.

Next, you must determine if any updates are available. The Windows Update function can do this automatically, or you can check for updates yourself.
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