Although Windows Update showers your system with updates, you may have to wait for the updates you need most. Why wait? Learn how to find and get the updates you need - now.
Windows Update has taken its fair share of criticism from this writer, but on balance, it's made life much easier for system managers, whether you manage only a single PC or a fleet of them. However, if you want to be proactive in preventing problems, stopping security flaws, and improving your system's health, stability, and performance: don't wait for Windows Update to bring you what you need. Here's why:
So, here's how to track down the updates you need and get them - pronto.
Microsoft Update provides updates for both Windows and for Microsoft applications. Even if you're a laggard on updating to the latest versions of Microsoft Office (I still have one system running Office XP and another running Office 2003), you can still get updates via Microsoft Update. You can sign up for Microsoft Update whenever you use Windows Update.
To see the current month's updates via Microsoft Update, check the New, Revised, and Rereleased Updates for Microsoft Products Other Than Microsoft Windows site at TechNet. This site lists the current month's updates and provides links to Knowledge Base articles, and an archives link at the bottom of the page provides access to previous months' updates.
For a listing of the current month's updates for Windows, see Knowledge Base article 894199. Check these pages as soon as you hear about a critical security or stability flaw affecting your systems to get provided updates early. The Microsoft Update Product Team Blog is also a useful resource for getting a "heads up" on what's coming via Microsoft Update and Windows Update.
The Microsoft Update Catalog is a resource designed for use by corporations who want to customize the updates they offer internally, but you don't need to be a corporation to access it. The first time you visit this site, you may be prompted to install an ActiveX control. Install it to gain access to the site.
You can search for updates by Microsoft product, third-party hardware vendor, Knowledge Base article, or keyword. It's a free-text search, so be creative. For example, I did a search specifying Vista reliability, and found 22 updates, including a couple of video driver packages. Specify a third-party hardware vendor and a Windows version, and you'll find driver updates.
The details page for each update provides an overview, language selection, whether the package supersedes other packages or has been replaced (Package Details), and how to install it (Install Resources). Select the updates you want, and you can download them for installation or redistribution to other users.