Microsoft's Windows XP is still the world's most popular operating system more than a decade after its initial release. This is due, in a large part, to Microsoft's continuing efforts to update and improve its product with free security patches and fixes. Below is a simple guide to the various ways to go about downloading these free XP updates.
Windows Update The easiest way to find the official Microsoft patches and updates for your version of Windows XP, is to use the Windows Update feature of the program. This can either be found on the start menu, on the control panel page or by simply typing 'windows update' into the search bar of the start menu. Setting 'Windows Update' to automatically check the Microsoft website for available fixes on a regular basis, will take away the need to go through the process manually. If it is set up to search automatically, then the user can either set Windows to notify him or her before installing the updates/fixes or to just accept the fix. Permission 'Simply accepting' means that any download will be activated as soon as it is available. This is not very problematic now that the operating system has been in existence for a long time. It now very rarely needs major changes. However, this is worth mentioning because any untested patch can lead to system instability. Therefore, it is recommended to set the system to download any updates automatically, but not to install them without the user's permission. A quick search engine query will let the user know about any problem with the update. Additionally, it should be noted that even if there is an issue with a particular update, the Windows roll back driver allows a user to reset the machine to a previous configuration. In this way, no data is lost.
You may decide to manually search the Microsoft website for updates. They are very easy to find, but keep in mind that you will need to know the XP version that you are using (Home, Office, etc.), whether it is 32 or 64 bit and what service pack is currently installed.
This hands-on approach can be rather more complicated than simply allowing the machine to do the work for you. Nonetheless, it is a preferable method if you need to use an XP version that has not been updated to service pack 2, for example. This is due to software compatibility issues. However, be aware that there are some security
trade-offs when you use outdated versions.