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Windows 7 hints and tips

Configure Windows Update

Windows Update hasn't changed for years and ever since XP was introduced in 2001 it has been pretty much the same. However, it has been given a makeover in Windows 7 and it has some new and interesting features that previously were not available.

To access Windows Update's configuration settings, go to the Control Panel, click All Control Panel Items if necessary, and then double click Windows Update. Click the Change Settings link on the left. A drop down list offers four options:

  • Install updates automatically
  • Download updates but let me choose whether to install them
  • Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them
  • Never check for updates

The first item on the list is the recommendedWindows Update in Windows 7 one and is best for most people. The options are exactly the same as with Vista, but in drop down list form instead of option buttons. You can choose to receive recommended updates in the same way that you receive important updates and it's useful to have this option turned on.

OK, so what's new? The final two options, that's what. You can choose whether to allow users who have a standard user account to install Windows updates.

Of course, you can because you have an administrator account, but what about other users of the computer, such as children or employees who might (should) have a standard user account? Clear the tick against this option to prevent them from installing updates. Of course, updates from Microsoft should be fine, but you never know and you might want to install them yourself.

The second new feature is to be notified when featured updates are available. These are less important than bug fixes and security patches and they will likely be add-ons and extras, or updates to less important Windows components. Tick the box if you want to download and install these too.

It's useful to have these extra options in Windows Update because it puts more control in your hands so that you can choose what actions to take when updates are available. It's hardly revolutionary, but it's one of the many ways in which Windows 7 is more friendly than previous versions of the operating system.

Go to Windows 7 tips index...

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