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Windows Patches

Patches are updates to the programs running on your computer. Windows XP provides an automatic update service which scans for, downloads and installs patches.

In April 2006, industry observers noted that amongst Microsoft's automatically applied patches was one euphemistically titled "Windows Genuine Advantage".

Windows Secrets

Genuine Advantage is
Microsoft spyware

By Brian Livingston

" Windows Genuine Advantage the controversial program Microsoft auto-installed as a "critical security update" on many PCs starting on Apr. 25 not only causes problems for many users but has now been proven to send personally identifiable information back to Redmond every 24 hours.

This behavior clearly fits any plausible definition of "spyware." Some tech writers have said categorizing WGA as spyware is arguable. But I have no hesitation in calling the program a security nightmare that Microsoft should never have distributed in its present form.

In my May 25 newsletter, I called Microsoft's WGA download a "severe blunder." It causes serious problems for some legitimate Windows users and was sprung on customers with no notice other than a press release the day before.

No PC-using company that values security and reliability can allow a program like WGA to :

  • send data to a distant server
  • download additional software
  • morph its behavior
  • or remotely change the functionality of Windows (as I describe below)

... I don't believe individuals should put up with this, either.

Today, I'll explain the problems and let you know what you can do to fix them. "

More at Windows Secrets June 15, 2006 edition



The recommended solution was to use a 3rd party patch and security manager, and top of the list for functionality was Shavlik's HF Net Check Pro - which is available as a 1 year free trial on up to 2 computers.

Note that with XP Home Edition you have to install the program on each computer separately, but some other versions of XP allow you to maintain the entire network from one location. HF Net Check Pro was originally designed for network administrators. This means the interface may be a little overwhelming for the casual user, but help is at hand with this graphic guide to running HF Net Check Pro.

Shavlik HF Net Check Pro
Click here to go to the download page

A graphic guide to running HF Net Check Pro.