When Should You Install Windows Updates?

March 25, 2013

The IT folks definitely know what happens on the second Tuesday of each month. That’s the day when Microsoft rolls out the major updates for Windows. It may take another day or two after that before you are notified, but the real question is how quickly you should install those updates.

Some will say that you should immediately install them as that provides the quickest protection against the security holes they were designed to fix. But what happens when those updates cause a major loss of productivity? We saw this exact scenario create major problems for a number of users just last December. Don’t remember it? Read Windows Update KB2753842 Will Make Some Fonts Stop Working for all of the gory details.

My recommendation is that you wait until the third Tuesday of each month to install updates. Yes, there is a very slim risk to the security of your computer by waiting a few extra days. Yet I think the potential damage caused by a flawed update is a much bigger risk. When there is a bad update, the extra week will usually get things sorted out as it did with the update mentioned earlier.

I believe one of the biggest offenders is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. Just last week they released Internet Explorer 10. Unfortunately Microsoft just doesn’t seem to want to play by the same rules on the Web as all other browsers. After installing Internet Explorer 10 and going to a popular site like YouTube, you get the screen shown below.

Internet Explorer 10 YouTube Failure
Did Microsoft really not test their new browser on one of the most popular Web sites on the Internet? I’m sure they were well aware of the compatibility problems. And I’m equally sure that Google enjoys throwing up this error message since they are a competitor in the browser space (and the owner of YouTube). Yet this is just one example of a Web site not working in Internet Explorer 10.

If you develop Web sites, you are well aware about the difficulty of designing a site that works in all browsers. It isn’t uncommon to develop workarounds for Internet Explorer as it doesn’t work the same as every other browser.

One update I recommend you skip for the time being is Internet Explorer 10. I also highly recommend you use another browser as your default given the compatibility problems with Internet Explorer. My first choice is Mozilla Firefox with Google Chrome being a distant second choice. Both are completely free and will only take a couple of minutes to install.

Post Discussion


  1. AuntBetsy

    This is such sage advice! Being the first inline for any Microsoft release is just asking for trouble. Microsoft seems to think that “product release” means “beta testing”. I think a great time to buy a new computer is just before Microsoft releases a new version of Window. They will have finally fixed the current version before inflicting the next one on the unsuspecting consumers.

    Thanks Foster for all your great advice.

  2. Foster D. Coburn III

    Thanks Betsy. In the case we aren’t talking about a “product release”, we are talking about the security updates that Microsoft pushes out each month. The only “new” product discussed is Internet Explorer and I’ve found yet another incompatibility today. As a Web designer it is very frustrating thing to have to “fix” a Web site simply because Microsoft’s browser doesn’t play well with others.

  3. Roy Reed

    Actually YouTube works perfectly well on IE10. It’s just that Google forgot to update the browser detection on YouTube for the new version of IE – click ‘No thanks’ and see for yourself.

    Or was it that they wanted to force more people down the Chrome browser route.

    (And what’s with all the social networking buttons, Foster?)

  4. Roy Reed

    I understand the importance of social media and SEO, just not the quadruplication of most of the buttons. The fixed wibiya toolbar at the foot of the browser window would seem to do everything you need. The rest are just uglification.

  5. Foster D. Coburn III

    Roy, sorry you feel confused. The Wibiya toolbar is NOT fixed and it offers functions not available on the sidebar. The sidebar offers functions not available on the Wibiya toolbar. Yes, there are a couple of functions that overlap. Most importantly, are you using the tools we provide to share our content?


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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