While Microsoft recommends that you set the “Automatic Update” settings to automatically download, some users prefer to set them to “Notify” and then the user CHOOSES which updates to download (and I have it set that way).

There are two reasons to do this:

1. Now and then Microsoft releases a buggy update (example in a second), so if you visit sites like dslReports (http://www.broadbandreports.com/forum/security) or AskWoody (http://www.askwoody.com/), you can get information on updates which may be buggy. If there are known issues with a new releases, you should wait a few days until Microsoft works out the bugs and releases a new update that’s bug free.

You have to scan the dslReports site a bit. About a year ago, the DSL site lit up with many posts on a buggy update that MS released that conflicted ZoneAlarm. Many users that were affected could not even get online.

That particular update problem was remedied by ZoneAlarm within 24 hours, but there was a lot of finger pointing, as you would expect, between Microsoft and ZoneAlarm . . . each claiming it was the other’s fault.

But it was ZoneAlarm that stepped up to the plate and addressed the situation. I give ZA good points for doing that (though I don’t use their software because it can be a resource hog).

The AskWoody site is more focused on patch releases, so you may want to go their first on “patch Tuesday” every month before you download an update.

2. The second reason that you may want to review and decline downloading patches is because Microsoft “DECIDES” what is critical and what is not. IE8 is a perfect example of this. (So is Windows Genuine Advantage, but that’s another topic for another time). IE8 was pushed out by Microsoft in their automatic “critical” updates. So if you didn’t want IE8 and you had updates set to automatically download, you got it anyway.

I discovered this myself in my “Notify” setting. I was scrolling through the updates and noticed IE8 listed. I didn’t want it, so fortunately I was able to uncheck the box and tell Microsoft not to notify me of that particular update again (that is, slip it past me when I wasn’t looking).

I may upgrade to IE8 (I use FF as my default browser anyway), but I want to do it on my terms and in my time.

This is not meant to be a bashing session on Microsoft, but they’re less than user friendly at times.