Using the Dynamic Update Option in Windows.NET Setup

If youre upgrading a Windows NT or a Windows 2000 Server to Windows.NET, youll usually see a message during the Setup process asking you if you want to run a dynamic update. Microsoft has dabbled in automatic updates since Windows 95, but the Windows.NET dynamic update is actually worth using. In this article, Ill explain why. As the name implies, the dynamic update feature is a method by which the Setup program checks the Microsoft Web site to see if installation files that are newer than those found on your Windows.NET installation CD are available. The impressive thing about the Windows.NET dynamic update is that its designed to be fast, reliable and easy to use. Of course, dynamic update is available only if the machine youre setting up already has an active Internet connection. The thing I like most about dynamic update is that Microsoft doesnt try to roll every patch and updated file into the dynamic update. Dynamic update will only download files directly affecting the way Setup will run on your system. Therefore, very minor patches, and updates to operating system files that are merely copied (not actually used) by Setup are not included in the dynamic update. An example of what might be included in the dynamic update is a driver that was unavailable at the time the installation CD was created, or a new Setup file. Microsoft has also stated that any file made available through dynamic update has been thoroughly tested for stability and reliability. Another reason why I like the dynamic update feature is because anyone who has ever installed any version of Windows knows that the Setup process takes forever to complete. Im not wild about running something like dynamic update, which is going to require a lengthy download and make the Setup process take even longer than it already is. However, dynamic updates best feature is it only downloads updates needed by your individual computer, rather than downloading a generic one size fits all update package. Dynamic update accomplishes the customized download by examining your systems hardware configuration (a process required by Setup even if you arent running dynamic update). The machines hardware information is then transmitted to the download server, where the download server checks to see if there are any updates to drivers for hardware in your system. If there is an update to a driver for a device you dont have, then that update is useless to you and wont be downloaded. Microsoft has also stated that although the process does depend on hardware information being transmitted to them, no personal information is collected and none of the collected configuration information is saved. One other thing I really like about dynamic update is its flexibility. You can run a dynamic update as a part of an attended or an unattended setup. Additionally, Windows.NET has a new feature called a pre-upgrade compatibility check. The pre- upgrade compatibility check is a process by which the early phases of Setup test to see if the machine will be compatible with Windows Server 2003. During this check, no files are copied and Setup makes no attempts to install the operating system. The pre-upgrade compatibility check is a way of testing Setup without actually running Setup. Whats cool is the dynamic update can be used in conjunction with a pre-upgrade compatibility check. For a followup article, check out Reinier Hartong's article on Migrating Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000

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