In Windows Update, what is the difference between Express and Custom mode?

First off, you really should be using Microsoft Update, which also updates other Microsoft programs such as the Office suite. We'll explain Microsoft Update below (see Related Articles). But to answer the question, the Custom option often shows more updates, and lets you pick and choose if desired, while Express will download and install all "High Priority" updates but ignore the rest. Some "Optional" updates are necessary and some you should ignore.

The list of Optional updates in Microsoft Update ranges from security fixes for Outlook Express to updated Media Player software. Obviously any security fixes should be installed. You may see one or more ".NET" listings...if you have a .NET version installed we recommend downloading any service packs, but it's not necessary to install the .NET platform unless you need it.

There may also be Optional Hardware updates. These are updated drivers for your computer. Only valid drivers will be shown, however, we have seen where Microsoft recommends installing an older version of an existing driver, when it does not recognize the version installed. Therefore ITS recommends not installing any updated drivers unless you are trying to fix a problem with that device.

May 2006

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