Windows Update sounds like an excellent idea: Anytime Microsoft has a patch or other improvement for its ever-imperfect operating system, your computer lets you know, and even installs the fix for you. Privacy concerns raised by allowing Windows to make regular and unobtrusive phone calls home to Microsoft erupted into outrage, however, following the discovery that the updates included Windows Genuine Advantage, an antipiracy utility that many recipients deemed outright spyware (for more details, read Andy Brandt's article "Windows Genuine Annoyance?" ).
But acquiring an unwanted watchdog isn't the only risk associated with Windows updates. I don't have room to cover all of the problems that the many patches and add-ons Microsoft has released for the OS might cause. These tips will give you the upper hand on updates, and help you out when a patch goes bad.