As we were grabbing a quick lunch last week, a friend who provides client support at a Fortune 1000 company remarked to me that the best thing about using Windows XP is that the Automatic Updates feature lets him relax in the knowledge that the latest security patches are being propagated to remote and mobile users who aren't under his direct control. I'm a big XP fan, especially for notebooks, but I pointed out to my friend that if the only reason he was upgrading stable Windows 2000 notebook users was to give them XP's automatic updating, then he was upgrading unnecessarily. All he really has to do is add that feature to Win2K. Automatic Updates for Win2K has been available since July and was released along with Software Update Services (SUS).
The Automatic Updates feature is also part of the Win2K Service Pack 3 (SP3) update released in August. You can acquire SP3 from http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp3/default.asp . If you don't want to update to SP3, you can download the Automatic Updates feature separately from http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com .
After you've installed either SP3 or the standalone Automatic Updates feature, I recommend that you configure the feature immediately. Theoretically, after being installed, Automatic Updates defaults to an off state and prompts the user 24 hours after installation to configure the tool, but some users have reported that the tool has defaulted to an on state and begun downloading updates without user intervention.
You can configure the feature from the Control Panel Automatic Updates applet that the download adds to your system. You need to be logged on with Administrator privileges to configure the Automatic Updates settings. You can also use Group Policy to configure Automatic Updates or edit the registry. You can find details about using Group Policy or editing the registry to configure Automatic Updates in the Microsoft article "How to Configure Automatic Updates by Using Group Policy or Registry Settings," http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=328010.
You aren't required to use SUS with Automatic Updates; the tool works on a standalone Win2K computer in the same way it works by default in XP. However, if you're already using SUS with Win2K and want to install Automatic Updates on individual Win2K computers, you'll need to go to http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/recommended/susclient/default.asp and download the installer package for the Win2K SUS client, which you install on the client.
If you don't give your local administrators privileges to the computers under their control, you need to configure Automatic Updates so that it won't significantly impede administrators' typical workflow. Make sure to thoroughly test your Automatic Updates configuration before you deploy the feature. You don't need to worry about traveling users not being connected to the Internet for long enough periods of time to download the updates; the feature is smart enough to know when a user is connected and will pause the download when the connection is lost and resume downloading the next time the user connects to the Internet. Keep in mind that if you apply Group Policies to Automatic Updates that affect the group that includes your remote and mobile users, then Automatic Updates will apply those policies to your traveling users' computers when they next connect to the corporate network.