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Updating Windows XP

Over time, Microsoft publishes patches, bug fixes, and other improvements on its web site. These changes include minor additions to the Windows feature set, upgrades to the freebie programs, and driver updates. The most important changes are those designated critical updates or hotfixes, which plug security holes or fix stability problems. Periodically, Microsoft combines many of these fixes into a package called a Service Pack. (As I write this chapter, Service Pack 2 is the current release.) Installing a Service Pack is equivalent to, and much less trouble than, installing its constituent fixes piecemeal. But you shouldn’t wait for an SP to install critical updates, which appear with alarming regularity.

Use Control Panel’s Automatic Updates program to choose how and when updates are installed on your PC. You may see pop-up messages in the notification area (system tray) that remind you to set up this feature, but you can adjust its options at any time.


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