Langa Letter: The Promise--And Problems--Of The New Windows Update

XP and Windows 2000 users soon will get a new version of Windows Update. Here's the full story, and remember, this is beta software, so be careful, <B>Fred Langa</B> says.

Fred Langa, Contributor

July 7, 2004

2 Min Read

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The new Update seems promising, but there are a couple of caveats:

First, although everything ran smoothly on the six systems I tried it on, this is beta--which is to say, unfinished--software. There almost surely are bugs, and the software may change in major ways before final release. It's always wise to prepare for the worst with any beta software: Don't install it on any machine unless you have a full, current, and bulletproof means of rolling the system back to the way it was before you installed the beta. (For an example, see this article.)

Second, if you do install this beta, take a moment to adjust the Automatic Update agent, as described above, or you may find yourself getting more than you bargained for. For example, if you use XP, and if you accept the default for full automatic installation, then you may find yourself unexpectedly test-driving not just the new Update, but also the huge, potentially problematic beta version of XP's Service Pack 2, which is one of the updates available through the new Update agent. (We'll cover SP2 in future articles, closer to its release date.) To prevent this kind of surprise, turn off or restrict Automatic Updates so that, at the very least, you get to approve which updates are allowed to install on your PC.

Finally, whether or not you try the beta, this new Update (or something very much like it) is almost certainly in your future. You may wish to bookmark this article or otherwise make note of it so you can return here at the appropriate time to refresh yourself on the options the new Update offers.

But for now, please join the discussion: Have you tried the new Update? What has your experience been? Has any of your installed software been broken or adversely affected by the Update Agent or the "sniffing" routines used by the agent to detect and catalog what's on a PC? Have you found instances where Update suggested inappropriate software or failed to report necessary updates? Please share your knowledge by joining in the discussion!

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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