Every operating system, including Windows, is a phenomenal output of the human brain. It consists of millions of lines of code that make our digital life better and more productive.
However, all the files that compose the operating system, can quickly become obsolete, and need to be constantly updated and patched. As Linux gets updated via terminal and Macs receive their updates when users click on the apple icon at the top left of the screen, Windows receives its updates from the applet called “Windows Update”. It is not easy to spot out Windows Updates in the OS: they can be reached from the browser or by typing “Windows Update” in the searchbox of Windows 8. Microsoft shoud have done a better job by putting this important task just on the desktop like Apple did.
If a computer is constantly updated with the most recent patches and enhancements, users will be able to have a smoother computer experience and see that all their programs run efficiently. On the other hand, Windows updates are not enough to fight against malware and users should scan for viruses after having updated their Windows machines.
Updates are configured to run automatically, but we recommend to do them manually at least every week to avoid malware getting inside the computer before that the updates will go through. A good tip is to close any file and shut down any program you are using before updating, since you may risk to lose data during the update. Even more possibly, if you have programs running while you are doing the updates, the update may stop because of the programs still open in your computer. Once the updates are succesfully installed, reboot your computer even if you are not asked to do so.
In general terms, Microsoft will not release updates anymore if they are discontinuing a version of their operating system. In April 2014, Microsoft shut down the updates for Windows XP asking users to upgrade their systems to Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Not all the updates are needed. If you look carefully at the window that shows the list of the updates, some of them are mandatory, some of them are optional. For example a Microsoft C++ update is mandatory since that update will make programs in your machine work better; an optional update may be a new driver version for your printer, which you may want or not want to install right away. If the printer already works fine, you may skip that optional update, but if you really want to do that update too, you are welcome to do it. An updated driver that talks to the printer is always better than a cranky old driver that soon or later will stop doing its job.