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How to Use the Microsoft Windows Updating System

The critical updates include security fixes, critical updates, and critical drivers.

Microsoft offers two separate components to keep Windows secure: Windows Update and Automatic Updates. Windows Update is a web site from which Windows users can download critical and non-critical software. Automatic Updates enables automatic interaction with the Windows Update Web site to obtain the critical software updates.

  • Windows Update

    Microsoft Windows Update Web Site

    Windows Update is the online extension of Windows that helps to keep the computer up-to-date. Use Windows Update to choose updates for the computer’s operating system, software, and hardware. New content is added to the site regularly. Recommended for regular users.

    Windows Update Catalog

    Microsoft recommends that only advanced users and administrators download updates from the Windows Update Catalog.

    Microsoft Security Bulletin Search

    The Security Bulletin Search Tool lets you easily and quickly find the security updates available for Microsoft products. A bulletin is an announcement that a new update has been issued. A bulletin might cover one or more updates and discusses the vulnerability fixed by the updates. Typically, a bulletin announces updates for several products within the same product family.

  • Automatic Update

    The Automatic Updates feature is designed to enable Windows to keep the user's computer up to date automatically with the latest updates and enhancements. Windows recognizes when the user is online and uses the Internet connection to search for downloads from the Windows Update Web site. An icon appears in the notification area each time new updates are available.

    Windows XP

    To turn on Automatic Updates:

    In Windows XP Home Edition, you must be logged on as a computer administrator to install components or modify Automatic Updates settings. In Windows XP Professional, you must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from completing these procedures.

    1. Click Start, then Control Panel.
    2. Double-click System.
    3. Select the Automatic Updates tab, and check Automatic (Recommended).
    4. Select the preffered updating method.

    Related information:
    How to configure and use Automatic Updates in Windows XP

    Windows 2000

    To turn on Automatic Updates:

    You must be logged on as a computer administrator to install components or modify Automatic Updates settings. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from completing these procedures.

    1. Click Start, then Settings, and select Control Panel.
    2. Double-click Automatic Updates.
    3. Select the preffered updating method.

    Related information:
    How to configure and use Automatic Updates in Windows 2000

    Windows 2003

    To turn on Automatic Updates:

    You must be logged on as a computer administrator to install components or modify Automatic Updates settings. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from completing these procedures.

    1. Click Start, then Control Panel.
    2. Double-click System.
    3. Select the Automatic Updates tab, and check Let Windows keep my computer up-to-date.
    4. Select the preffered updating method.

    Related information:
    Microsoft Windows 2003 Automatic Updates

    Windows Millenium Edition

    To turn on Automatic Updates:

    1. Click Start, then Control Panel.
    2. Double-click System.
    3. Select the Automatic Updates tab, and check Let Windows keep my computer up-to-date.
    4. Select the preffered updating method.

    Related information:
    Description of Automatic Updates in Windows Millennium Edition (Me)

    Windows 98

    Automatic Updates is not available for Microsoft Windows 98-based computers or Microsoft Windows NT 4.0-based computers, but a Critical Update Notification utility is available from the Windows Update Web site to notify you when critical updates are available for download on these platforms.

    Related information:
    Description of the Windows Critical Update Notification Utility