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What is Windows Update? [Definition]

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What is Windows Update: As a part of maintenance and support for Windows, Microsoft provides a free service called Windows Update. Its main purpose is to correct errors/bugs. It also aims to improve the end user’s experience and the overall performance of the system. Drivers of popular hardware devices can also be updated using Windows Update. The second Tuesday of each month is called ‘Patch Tuesday.’ Security updates and patches are released on this day.

What Is Windows Update?

You can view the updates on the control panel. The user has the option of choosing whether an update can automatically download or manually check for updates and apply them.

Types of Windows Updates

Windows updates are broadly classified into four categories. They are optional, featured, recommended, important. Optional updates mainly focus on updating drivers and enhancing user experience. The recommended updates are for non-critical issues. Important updates come with the benefits of better security and privacy.

Although you can configure whether you want to apply the updates manually or automatically, it is recommended to automatically install important applications. You can manually install optional updates. If you want to check the updates that have been installed, go to update history. You can see a list of installed updates along with their respective time of installation. If a Windows Update has failed, you can take the help of troubleshooting assistance provided.

After an update has been installed, it is possible to remove it. But this is done only if you are facing any issues due to the update.

Also Read: Fix Windows 10 won’t download or install updates

Uses of Windows Update

The OS and other applications are kept up to date through these updates. Since cyber-attacks and threats to data keep increasing, there is a need for better security. The system should be protected from malware. These updates provide exactly that – protection against malicious attacks. Apart from these, the updates provide feature enhancements and improved user experience.

Availability of Windows Update

Windows Update is used by all versions of Windows operating system – Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. This cannot be used to update other software not related to Microsoft. Updating other programs and applications should be done manually by the user or they may use an updater program for the same.

Checking for a Windows Update

How to access a Windows update? This depends on the version of the OS you are using.

In Windows 10, go to start menu a Windows settings a Windows update. You can see whether your system is up to date or if it needs to install any update. Given below is a picture of what this looks like.

Press Windows Key + I to open Settings then click on Update & security icon

Windows Vista/7/8 users can access these details from the Control Panel. In Windows Vista, you may also go to the Run dialog box (Win+R) and then type the command ‘name Microsoft. Windows Update‘ to access the Windows update.

In Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, the user can access the Windows update through the Windows update website using Internet explorer.

Also Read: Windows Updates Stuck? Here are a few things you could try!

Using the Windows Update tool

Open Windows Update using the steps mentioned above. You will see a set of updates that are currently available. The updates are customized according to your device. Choose those updates that you wish to install. Follow through the next set of prompts. The whole process is generally fully automated with few actions from the user. After the updates are downloaded and installed, you may have to restart your device.

Windows update is different from Microsoft Store. The Store is for downloading applications and music. Windows update can be used to update device drivers too. But users prefer to update the device drivers (video card driver, the driver for a keyboard, etc..) by themselves. The free driver updater tool is a popular tool used to update device drivers.

The previous versions before Windows update

When Windows 98 was in use, Microsoft released the critical update notification tool/utility. This would run in the background. When a critical update was available, the user would get notified. The tool would conduct a check every 5 minutes and also when the internet explorer was opened. Through this tool, users received regular notifications about updates to be installed.

In Windows ME and 2003 SP3, this was replaced with Automatic updates. The automatic update allowed installation without going to the web browser. It checked for updates less frequently compared to the previous tool (once every day to be precise).

With Windows Vista came the Windows update agent which was found in the control panel. Important and recommended updates would automatically be downloaded and installed by the Windows update agent. Until the previous version, the system would restart right after a new update was installed. With windows update agent, a user could reschedule the mandatory restart that completes the update process to a different time (within four hours of the installation).

Also Read: How to Check Which Version of Windows You Have?

Windows update for business

This is a special feature available only in certain editions of the OS – Windows 10 Enterprise, Education, and Pro. Under this feature, quality updates can be delayed for 30 days and feature updates can be delayed for up to a year. This is meant for organizations that have a huge number of systems. Updates are immediately applied only to a small number of pilot computers. Only after the effects of the installed update are observed and analyzed, the update is gradually deployed on the other computers. The most critical set of computers are the last few to get updates.

An overview of some of the latest Windows 10 updates

Microsoft’s feature updates are released twice every year. The set of updates that follow are those that fix the bugs, the introduction of new features and security patches.

The latest update is the November 2019 update also known as version 1909. Although it is not being actively recommended for users, if you are currently using the May 2019 update, it is safe to download the install the version 1909. Since it is available as a cumulative update, it will take lesser time to download and install. If you are using an older version, update cautiously a sit my require a complete re-installation of the OS.

Rushing to install a new update is generally not recommended as there will be more bugs and issues in the early dates od release. It is safe to go for the upgrade after at least three to four quality upgrades.

What does version 1909 bring to Windows users?

  • The navigation bar on the left of the start menu has been tweaked. Hovering over the icons will open a text menu with a highlight over the option which the cursor is pointing to.
  • Expect better speed and improved battery life.
  • Along with Cortana, another voice assistant Alexa can be accessed from the lock screen.
  • You can create calendar events directly from the taskbar. Click on the date and time on the taskbar. The calendar will appear. Choose a date and enter the appointment/event reminder in the text box that opens. You can set the time and location as well

The builds released for version 1909

KB4524570 (OS Build 18363.476)

Security issues in Windows and Microsoft Edge were fixed. The main issue with this update was seen in some Input Method Editors for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. The users could not create a local user while setting up a Windows Device in Out of the Box Experience.

KB4530684 (OS Build 18363.535)

This update was released in December 2019. The error in the previous build regarding the creation of local users in some IMEs was fixed. The 0x3B error in cldflt.sys which was found in some devices was also fixed. This build introduced security patches for Windows kernel, Windows Server and Windows Virtualization.

KB4528760 (OS Build 18363.592)

This build was released in January 2020. Few more security updates were introduced. This was for Windows server, Microsoft scripting engine, Windows storage and file systems, Windows Cryptography, and Windows App Platform and frameworks.

KB4532693 (OS Build 18363.657)

This build was released on a patch Tuesday. It is a February 2020 build. It fixed a few bugs and loops in security. Users face certain issues while migrating cloud printers during an upgrade. These issues have been fixed. When you are updating Windows 10 version 1903, you now have better installation experience.

New security patches were released for the following – Microsoft Edge, Windows Fundamentals, Internet Explorer, Windows Input and Composition, Microsoft Graphics Component, Windows Media, Microsoft Scripting Machine, Windows Shell, and Windows Network security and containers.

Summary

  • Windows update is a free tool offered by Microsoft that provides maintenance and support for Windows OS.
  • The updates usually aim to fix bugs and errors, tweak pre-existing features, introduce better security, and improve the overall user experience.
  • In Windows 10, the updates are installed automatically. But the user can schedule the mandatory restart that is necessary for the update to complete.
  • Certain editions of the OS allow the updates to be delayed as there are a large number of connected systems. The updates are tested on a few systems before being applied to critical systems.
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Elon Decker

Elon is a tech writer at TechCult. He's been writing how-to guides for about 6 years now and has covered many topics. He loves to cover topics related to Windows, Android, and the latest tricks and tips.

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