What is the Windows 2000 Automatic Updates feature?

A. When you use the Automatic Updates feature, your desktop machine automatically connects to Microsoft for any critical updates that might apply to your machine. The content is similar to that of the Windows Update feature except you don't have to manually go onto the Internet to check for updates--the Windows OS does it for you.

Win2K Service Pack 3 (SP3) introduced the Automatic Updates feature, which is an enhanced version of the Automatic Updates feature in Windows XP. (XP SP1 will update the XP version to match the functionality of the Win2K SP3 version.) Whereas the Win2K SP3 version of Automatic Updates lets you automatically install the updates at a scheduled time, the core XP version does not.

To access the Win2K Automatic Updates interface, go to the Start menu, Settings, Control Panel, and select the Automatic Updates Control Panel applet. You'll also see a new service, Automatic Updates, that runs even if you disable automatic updating.

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To enable Automatic Updates, select the "Keep my computer up to date" check box. Automatic Updates offers three configuration options:

  • Notify me before downloading and notify me again before installing them on my computer--This option works in a similar way to the old-style Critical Update Notification: Automatic Updates notifies the user if a critical update is available; the user can then select which updates Automatic Updates should download.
  • Download the updates automatically and notify me when they are ready to be installed--With this option, Automatic Updates periodically checks the Windows Update Web site and silently downloads critical updates when the user's Internet connection is idle. After the updates finish downloading, Windows displays the Automatic Updates icon in the notification area. The user can then click the icon to get details about what updates were downloaded, to be reminded to install the updates later (from 3 minutes to 3 days later), or to install the updates now.
  • Automatically download the updates, and install them on a schedule that I specify--With this option, Automatic Updates downloads the updates and automatically installs them at a scheduled time (if the updates require a system reboot, Automatic Updates lets users stop the shutdown if they are currently logged on).
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