Update to Windows Update Improves Performance, Stirs Controversy


Faster Scans and Signature Updates

Windows Update will itself be updated, starting in late July, according to Windows Update product manager Michelle Haven, in a recent TechNet post . The updates for Windows Update will change both the WU clients used by Windows XP and Vista-based machines as well as the back-end infrastructure, and as a result, "you may notice some improvements in the length of time it takes Windows Update to scan for updates and how quickly you’ll receive signature updates." Some systems might see scan times reduced by almost 20 percent.

The update sounds like a good idea, but what happened the last time Windows Update was updated? You don't need a time machine to find out - we'll take you back to last year, courtesy of the Maximum PC archives.

Despite Clarification, The Update Controversy Continues

Updating Windows Update, as we first told you after last year's updates , continues to be controversial (scroll down to comments) among users who want to lock down their systems and don't want Microsoft making any changes.

To Microsoft's credit, the announcement about the new updates to Windows Update does a good job of explaining that Windows Update must be updated to keep you informed about security and other updates. Even if you have selected the Windows XP options "download" or "notify" or the equivalent Windows Vista options "download" or "check for updates," which prevent other updates from being installed until you give the order, Windows Update will self-update. The only way to prevent Windows Update from self-updating is to use the Windows XP "Turn off Automatic Updates" or Windows Vista "Never Check for Updates" WU settings.

Will History Repeat Itself?

As we mentioned previously, the last major update to Windows Update took place about a year ago. In addition to causing controversy among Windows users concerned about so-called "stealth updates" to Windows, the update caused problems for users who needed to perform a repair installation of Windows XP . The repair installation sent Windows Update back to its old configuration, preventing it from working after the update.

Fortunately, we'd also discovered Dial-a-Fix , which turns out to be the easiest way to repair Windows Update. Will Windows Update's summer 2008 update cause similar problems for users? We don't know yet, but our advice is this: If you must run a repair installation of Windows XP, you'll want to have a copy of Dial-a-Fix standing by in case of trouble.

That's Microsoft's Stand - What's Yours?

How do you use Windows Update? Do you let Redmond update everything for you, or do you control when updates are installed? How do you feel about Windows Update's self-update policy? Use the comments section to tell us what's on your mind.

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