Frequently Asked Questions

  • Getting Started with Microsoft Update
  • Using Microsoft Update
  • Supported versions and languages
  • Troubleshooting
  • Networking and Advanced Information
  • Getting Started with Microsoft Update

    What Is Microsoft Update?
    It's the new website from Microsoft that helps you update Microsoft Windows and many other Microsoft programs that you've installed, such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SQL Server, all in one convenient place.

    Does it work with Automatic Updates?
    Yes. If you turn on Automatic Updates using your settings in Control Panel, Windows will automatically find and install high-priority updates for any Microsoft products that you have installed and that are supported by the website.

    If I use Microsoft Update, do I still need to visit the Windows Update website?
    No. Microsoft Update provides the same updates you find on the Windows Update website and more. Microsoft Update is designed to make it easier for you to update Windows and your Microsoft products in one place.

    Do I still need to get updates from Office Online or use Office Update?
    No, if you’ve installed Office 2003 or Office XP products. If you use Office 2000 products or if your computer has a per-user installation of Office products, you should still get updates from Office Update.
    Regardless of which version of the Office products you’ve installed, if you like to download fun or useful add-ons such as templates, clip art, and other media for any version of Office, you still need to go to Microsoft Office Online.

    Tip: To check which version of Office you're using, open any Microsoft Office program. Click Help, and then click About (program name).

    How often should I visit Microsoft Update?
    That depends. If you turn on Automatic Updates, you automatically get the most important updates for your computer. You only need to visit the site to check for optional updates for your software and hardware.

    If you do not use Automatic Updates, you should visit the site as often as possible and at least once each week.

    What types of updates does Microsoft publish?
    See this description of the standard terminology used to describe Microsoft software updates.

    How does the website work with my computer?
    Microsoft Update works with updating software in Windows. When you visit the site, the updating software identifies which version of Windows and other Microsoft products you use. This way, the website shows you only the updates that apply to your computer, not all updates published by Microsoft. The privacy policy describes which information is used to find updates your computer needs in more detail.

    How often does Microsoft Update release new updates?
    Security-related updates are released once a month. However, if a security threat occurs, such as a widespread virus or worm that affects Windows-based computers, Microsoft will release a corresponding update as soon as possible. Other types of updates can be released whenever they are ready.

    It’s a good idea to turn on Automatic Updates so that your computer can receive high-priority updates as they become available.

    Using Microsoft Update

    How can I choose which updates to install?
    We recommend you install all high-priority updates for your computer, not just updates for a specific product. After you’ve installed the most important updates, you can choose from any remaining optional updates for your programs and hardware.

    What’s the difference between Express and Custom?
    When you check for updates, you have two options:

    • Express (recommended) finds all high-priority updates for your computer so you can install them with one click. This is the quickest and easiest way to keep your computer up to date.
    • Custom finds high-priority and optional updates. You need to review and select the updates you want to install, one by one.

    Do I need to install optional updates?
    No. Optional updates address minor issues or add non-critical functionality to your computer. It is more important to install high priority updates so that your computer gets the latest critical and security-related software.

    How can I get more information about an update before I install it?
    Click the name of each update to view its description. To view system requirements and support information, click the Details link provided in each description.

    Do I have to do anything before or while I install an update?
    Sometimes. Some updates require you to accept an End User License Agreement (EULA), answer a question about the installation process, or restart your computer before you can install them.

    What happens if I select "Don't show me this update again"?
    Microsoft Update will no longer ask you to review or install that update. However, if you hide a high priority update, you might be reminded that you’re missing an update that is critical to the security of your computer.

    If I hide an update, how do I get it back later?
    On the Web site, click Restore hidden updates, and then review and install the updates that you want.

    How do I add Microsoft Update to my list of trusted Web sites?

    • In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
    • On the Security tab, click Trusted Sites, and then click Sites.
    • Under Add this Web site to the zone, type (or copy and paste) this URL:
    • Click Add, and then click OK.

    Supported versions and languages

    Which operating systems does Microsoft Update support?
    The Microsoft Update website offers updates for Windows and Microsoft programs as described below.

    Operating System Version Microsoft Update Support
    Windows Server 2003
    • Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1
      • Ongoing
        • Windows Server 2003
          • No new updates offered after June 2007
            Windows XP
            • Windows XP with Service Pack 2
              • Ongoing
                • Windows XP with Service Pack 1
                  • No new updates offered after September 2006; previous updates available
                    • Windows XP
                      • No new updates offered after September 2004; previous updates available
                        Windows 2000
                        • Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4
                          • Ongoing
                            • Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3
                              • No new updates offered after June 2005; previous updates available
                                • Windows 2000 with Service Pack 2
                                  • Not supported; use Windows Update
                                    • Windows 2000 with Service Pack 1
                                      • Not supported; use Windows Update
                                        • Windows 2000
                                          • Not supported; use Windows Update

                                            Tip: Not sure which version of Windows your computer is running? Visit the Microsoft Protect Your PC website and, under Getting Started, click Find out which version of Windows your computer is using.

                                            Which products does Microsoft Update support?
                                            In addition to Windows updates, the Microsoft Update website offers updates for some Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office 2003, Office XP, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft SQL Server. Typically, only updates for the latest version of each product are offered.

                                            Note: You will only be offered updates for Microsoft products that you’ve already installed on your computer.

                                            How long will I receive updates and support for my product?
                                            For information about how long Microsoft products are supported, see the current Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy.

                                            Which browser versions can I use to access Microsoft Update?
                                            You can use Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 but we recommend using Internet Explorer 6 or later.

                                            How do I know which version of Internet Explorer I’m using?
                                            In Internet Explorer, on the Help menu, click About Internet Explorer.

                                            Can I view the Microsoft Update Web site using another language?
                                            Yes, but updates will no longer appear in the same language that you use to view links, options, and instructions on the Web site. Titles and details for an update are displayed using your computer’s default language.

                                            How do I change my language settings?

                                            • On the Microsoft Update Web site, click Change settings.
                                            • Select the language that you want to use to view the site, and then click Apply changes now.
                                            • When you are asked to confirm the change, do one of the following:
                                              • To change your language settings immediately, click OK.
                                                (You will need to review and select updates again.)
                                              • To use the new language after installing any updates that you’ve selected, click Cancel.
                                                (The next time you visit Microsoft Update, your new language setting will be applied.)

                                            Why does Microsoft Update recommend a language for me to use?
                                            It matches the default language setting for your computer. If you use it, you can view the Web site using the same language as the titles and details of any updates that apply to your computer.

                                            Can I get updates in multiple languages?
                                            Yes. Microsoft Update automatically detects language settings for each program on your computer. If you use multiple languages, you will be offered updates for each program in the appropriate language.


                                            What happens if I cancel the download process or disconnect from the Internet before an update is fully downloaded?
                                            The next time you connect to the Internet, the update will continue to download from the point at which it was interrupted.

                                            I get an Internet Explorer error—how do I change my settings to work with Microsoft Update?
                                            Use the default security settings:

                                            • In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
                                            • On the Security tab, click Internet zone, and then click Default Level.

                                            To prevent problems, you can also add Microsoft Update to your list of trusted sites (instructions provided in the Using Microsoft Update section).

                                            I get ActiveX or scripting warnings when I use Microsoft Update—is there a problem?
                                            No. Microsoft Update uses these technologies to determine which updates your computer needs. As a security measure, Microsoft Update ActiveX controls are digitally signed by Microsoft. But attackers sometimes use the same technologies to harm your computer. Internet Explorer warns you so that you can decide whether or not to trust Web sites that use these controls.

                                            Get more information about digital certificates, trusting Web sites, and choosing security settings by searching Internet Explorer Help. (If you don't want to see warnings when you use Microsoft Update, you can change your security settings but it's not recommended. If you lower the level of your settings, your computer is more vulnerable to viruses and other security threats.)

                                            Why can’t I view update details, installation history details, or troubleshooting articles?
                                            Your pop-up blocking software or settings do not allow you to open new browser windows from links that you click within a Web site.

                                            To change Pop-up Blocker settings (available for Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP SP2 or later):

                                            • In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, point to Pop-up Blocker, and then click Pop-up Blocker Settings.
                                            • Do one of the following:
                                              • To allow pop-up windows only when using Microsoft Update, under Address of Web site to allow, type (or copy and paste) this URL: and then click Add.
                                              • To allow new browser windows to open when using any secured (https://) Web sites, in the Filter Level list, click Low: Allow pop-ups from secure sites.

                                            If you use other pop-up blocking software, find out whether you can change your settings just for links that you click within a Web site. If not, you might need to allow pop-ups while using Microsoft Update.

                                            Where do I go if I have problems installing an update?
                                            See Microsoft Update Help and Support for information about these and other options:

                                            Why can’t I find an update after I’ve restored hidden updates?
                                            Another update that you’ve installed has already addressed the same issue. For example, if you install a service pack or update rollup, your computer might no longer need the update that you’d previously hidden.

                                            Why can’t I install some updates at the same time as other updates?
                                            Some updates, such as service packs and update rollups, include several updates or address the same issues.

                                            Other types of updates require you to restart your computer before they can take effect. You must install these updates separately. You can then return to Microsoft Update to see if more updates apply.

                                            Networking and Advanced Information

                                            What if I need to update more than one computer?
                                            If you have a home or small office network, you need to update each computer individually.

                                            If you are a network administrator, go to Administrator options for information about additional update services, such as the Windows Update Catalog and Windows Server Update Services.

                                            What is Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA)?
                                            MBSA is a tool that scans networked, Windows-based computers for common security misconfigurations and missing security updates. It includes a graphical and command-line interface, and can perform local or remote scans. It can also generate a security report for each computer in a network that it scans. For more information, read the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer overview.

                                            Which types of updates do Automatic Updates, Microsoft Update, and Windows Server Update Services deliver?

                                              Automatic Updates Microsoft Update Web Site
                                            Express Custom
                                            Windows Server Update Services*
                                            High priority Updates
                                            Critical Updates X X X X
                                            Security Patches X X X X
                                            Update Rollups X X X X
                                            Service Packs X X X X
                                            Optional Updates
                                            Software     X X
                                            Hardware     X  
                                            Beta software     Opt-in setting  

                                            *Network administrators can select any or all supported updates to distribute. Updates for Microsoft products such as Office, SQL Server and Exchange Server will be made available for use with Windows Server Update Services servers (but not for use with Software Update Services (SUS) 1.0 or SUS 1.0 with Service Pack 1 servers).

                                            How can I get more updates, or updates that Microsoft Update doesn’t offer?
                                            Visit the following Web sites:

                                            • Microsoft Download Center
                                              Get downloads for Microsoft products. Downloads are available in over 70 languages.
                                            • Windows Update Catalog
                                              Search for updates for servers and other computers using Windows operating systems.
                                            • Microsoft Office Online
                                              Find updates for the Microsoft Office System, versions 97, 98 and later. Downloads include templates, assistance content, and clip art.
                                            • Microsoft Premier Support
                                              Learn about Premier Support benefits, including additional updates, such as pre-release software.