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The report, which was the first to contain extensive details of how the Windows Update communication protocol worked, also discovered that the make and model of the computer, the amount of free disk space, and the Windows product key, were sent.Shortly after the release of Windows 98, Microsoft released a Critical Update Notification Tool (later called Critical Update Notification Utility) through Windows Update, which installed a background tool on the user's computer that checked the Windows Update web site on a regular schedule for new updates that have been marked as "Critical".Enables the detection, download, and installation of updates for Windows and other programs.If this service is disabled, users of this computer will not be able to use Windows Update or its automatic updating feature, and programs will not be able to use the Windows Update Agent (WUA) API.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.
While details have changed from version to version, it has always scanned the computer to find what operating system components and software are installed, and compared the versions of those components with the latest available versions.
It also narrowed down the list of available updates for the operating system and related components by sending details of what operating system version, service pack, and locale are installed.
German technology web site published an analysis of the Windows Update communication protocol in February 2003, which received wide attention on technology web sites.
With the release of Windows ME in 2000, Microsoft introduced Automatic Updates as a replacement for the Critical Update Notification tool.
Unlike its predecessor, Automatic Updates includes the ability to download and install updates without using a web browser.Initial releases of Windows 2000 shipped with the tool, but Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 were not supported.