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Windows Vista

Windows Update (part 1) - Manual Updates

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Windows Update is a system to update or patch the Windows operating system and optionally for Microsoft applications, like Office. Updates are released on a regular basis and provide fixes for applications that aren’t working quite right; close down security vulnerabilities that have been identified; and sometimes provide new features and functionality to the operating system, its utilities, and applications.

Note

To Patch or Not to Patch—That Is the Question The answer is to patch. This is a critical function for every computer you are responsible for. They should all be regularly updated to ensure the strongest possible security. The updates range from large, major service packs, which often include all previous updates and new features and enhancements, to smaller security updates and hot fixes.


Updates are rated as Important, Recommended, or Optional:

  • Important updates are usually related to fixing security vulnerabilities in the operating system or application, or related to fixing a program that fails.

  • Recommended updates are optional and are typically enhancements to the system, like an additional language pack.

  • Optional updates are usually updates to device drivers.

Manual Updates

Microsoft Windows Vista provides us with several approaches to keeping our computers updated with the latest releases. Updates can be implemented manually or automatically in the consumer environment, or through an infrastructure-based system called Windows Server Update Services that is typically implemented in a larger, corporate environment where Active Directory is present. For this exam, you need to be concerned only with the manual and automatic updating processes for the consumer environment.

You can manually initiate Windows Update by selecting Windows Update from several different places in the system, including from the Start > Programs menu, from the Security Center, and from Internet Explorer. Figure 1 shows how to access Windows Update from the Control Panel.

Figure 1. Windows Update allows you to check for and install updates for the operating system. If you click the Get Updates for More Products hyperlink, you can get updates for Microsoft Office and MSN applications from Microsoft Update.

Note

Windows Update Versus Microsoft Update Windows Update is the system that updates the operating system files, whereas Microsoft Update is the newer system that updates Microsoft applications, like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Network (MSN) tools and applications. When you enable the use of Microsoft Update (to include updating of MS applications), the terms Windows Update and Microsoft Update are used synonymously.


In the dialog box shown in Figure 1, you can manually initiate the check for updates, view available updates, view the updates that have been installed, restore hidden updates, and also check for Vista Ultimate Extras, if you’re running the Ultimate version of Vista.

When you click the Check for Updates hyperlink, your computer connects to the Microsoft Update web servers over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), an encrypted channel, and downloads the most recent list of updates to your computer. This file, with the list of updates, is named MSSecure.cab. With this list of updates on your local computer, Windows Update compares all available updates from the list to the list of updates that are installed on your computer to determine which updates, if any, are missing from your system. This way, you never need to send any information about your computer to Microsoft, which protects your privacy. It is all done on your local computer.

Now that you know which updates are missing from your computer, you are able to select which updates you would like to install by selecting them from the list of available updates, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. In the View Available Updates window, you can choose to view more details on the selected update, copy the details for later reviewing, or hide the update so it will not be presented to you for installation again.

Simply check the box(es) of the updates you want to install and click Install. The updates are then downloaded from Microsoft Update web servers and installed on your computer.

Note

Hey! My Computer Just Rebooted All by Itself! Often, after the updating process has completed, a computer reboot is required to initialize the new system files. You can configure a Windows Vista computer to automatically issue a warning and then reboot after installing any updates that require a reboot to initialize. How a computer handles this needed reboot should be considered and then configured on each computer.


To see what updates have been installed, from the main Windows Update dialog box, select the View Update History hyperlink. You are presented with a list of all installed updates, whether it was installed successfully, what the rating of the update was (Important, Recommended, or Optional), and when the update was installed. Another way to view this information is in a log file located in the \Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder in a file named ReportingEvents.log.

On occasion, an operating system update or an update to an application causes your computer to have a problem. If this is the case, you need to remove the problematic update or roll back the state of the system.

From Control Panel > Programs and Features > Installed Updates, you can not only view updates that have been installed, but also can uninstall them.

Another approach to removing unwanted updates is to perform a System Recovery to a previous configuration. But, remember that if you roll back to a previous restore point, you roll back all changes to the Registry and system files. You also lose any other configuration changes made since that restore point.

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