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Windows Update clients normally download updates over an Internet connection, although Microsoft makes provision for installing updates on computers without an Internet connection and a range of alternative methods and programs also exist to install updates. Security updates or critical updates protect against vulnerabilities to malware and security exploits.
This means that organizations and end users get only update packages instead of individual updates.
Microsoft routinely releases security updates on the second Tuesday of each month (Patch Tuesday), but can provide them whenever a new update is urgently required to prevent a newly discovered or prevalent exploit targeting Windows users.
System administrators can configure Windows Update to install critical updates automatically so long as the computer has an Internet mobile connection, without the user needing to install them manually, or even be aware that an update is required.
Windows Vista and later provide a Control Panel to configure update settings and check for updates.
The Windows Update Control Panel also has the function of downloading Windows Ultimate Extras, optional software for Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.