Windows Update Corporate Site Lets You Download Service Packs and Hotfixes as Needed

Keeping my home/office network up and running is much like any small business or departmental IT task. I have servers and workstations running Windows 2000 Server, as well as Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 98 machines in the mix (and Windows XP Professional beta and Whistler Server beta, just to keep things interesting). With about a dozen systems, the network is small enough for one person to maintain but large enough that updating every system can be a pain.

Like most business users, I don't want to use Windows Update on each machine and have the program go out to the Microsoft Web site on its own to update the client systems with the latest patches and bug fixes. So I use Windows Update Corporate site to download service packs and bug fixes as I become aware of problems that need attention.

I've written about the Windows Update Corporate site before, but I feel the topic is worth revisiting. The site lets you download the various fixes that Microsoft releases and keep local copies that you can deploy across your network. The site offers both software and driver updates and breaks them down into four types:

  • Critical and Security Updates
  • Management and Deployment Tools
  • Other Downloads
  • Service Pack and Recommended Updates

You select the OS and the update type, and the site finds the available updates. Some users don't like this site because it installs an ActiveX control on your local system, but this control just maintains a local list of the updates that you've already downloaded and lets the site provide you with a history of your activities on the site. If you don't believe that the information is stored only on your local machine, you might not be comfortable using this site.

So why am I bringing up this topic again? Since Win2K became generally available, I've been updating my Win2K systems with patches as I deemed necessary. Today, I went to the site to look at what's available if I want to set up a fresh Win2K system. I guess I didn't realize how many fixes are in general release.

When I searched for Win2K Critical and Security Updates, the site returned 99 files, some of which I admit I've never heard of. Service Packs and Recommended Updates added another 33 files.

I'm certain that you don't need to run out and apply 132 patches to your Win2K systems to update every one of them, but I believe it's worth a trip to the Update site to check out what's available for your OSs and applications. Personally, I just started using Frontpage to create and maintain two new Web sites, and I found a number of patches for Frontpage that I hadn't previously installed. Take the time to check the site out.

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