How to REALLY get just the software you need

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Last Monday in my blog/podcast I recommended that you set Windows Updates to download and install ALL Windows Updates automatically – both the updates labeled “Important” and the updates labeled “Optional”.  I need to revise that advice.

windows update

First, I want to thank my friend Larry for bringing this to my attention.  Larry sent me this email:

I’d like to ask you just why you think it’s a good idea for me to download some of the really useless and memory grabbing  junk that is passed off as simply ‘optional’ stuff which would only end up SLOWING down of my XP computer and be of absolutely NO USE to me – ever!
Case in point is the ‘Bing Desktop’ and ‘Windows Live Essentials’, NEITHER of which I have any use for and will not download/install.  That’s the whole point of OPTIONAL, isn’t it?
Jeeze, I have enough junk running that I actually USE and want to run.  I don’t need some stuff so why should I set parameters to simply download anyoldthing that MS thinks I ‘might’ need?  Who knows better what I need than ME?
Downloading and installing whatever MS thinks I need is NOT the way to keep my machine running at its best, ya think?  Well, I do.

And I have to say, Larry is correct.

When I wrote that blog, I was thinking too narrowly – I was considering only software drivers.  I was not taking into consideration the other stuff that comes along as “Optional” such as the ones Larry mentioned – Bing Desktop and Windows Live Essentials.  You might have a use for Windows Live Mail, but if so, you are probably already using it.  I definitely would not want to install Bing Desktop on a computer.

Another set of “Optional” updates from Microsoft will show up if you use Microsoft Office – it’s the set of various languages that you can use with Word and other Office programs.  Most people don’t need that either – which means you wouldn’t want it to come in and get installed automatically.

So… unless you actually do want those extra things from Microsoft, you should go back and set your Windows Updates to only get the Important updates, not the Optional ones.  If your computer does start acting funny with audio or video at some point, you can check the optional Windows Updates at that time to see if there is anything you need from there to fix it.

I apologize for the inconvenience, and I appreciate my readers keeping me on my toes!

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Richard Fox
March 1st, 2013

I understand Larry’s frustration but felt he was a little grouchy in his reply. I greatly enjoy the newsletter.

Scott Johnson
March 1st, 2013

Thanks Richard! Larry and I are friends. He’s a good guy.