Let Microsoft Foot the Bill for Securing Your PC

If you run any flavor of Windows, you know that one of the less pleasant facts of life on that platform is the constant flow of security patches you have to apply to your OS to keep it from being exploited. Each one seems small, but over time, they add up to a lot of code.

Let me give you an example. At home, I run Windows 2000, and my install CD is an original Win2K disc from before any Service Packs were released. The last time I reinstalled Windows, it took hours for me to download all the patches and Service Packs I needed to apply after doing a clean install — and that’s over a broadband connection! Lord knows what the people on dialup do.

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know, though — did you know that Microsoft will ship you a free set of CDs with every Windows security patch on them? Yup, it’s true — they’ll even pay for shipping. You just fill out the request and they ship the CDs, which have all the updates (up to February 2004) for Win 98/98SE, ME, 2000, and XP. I did it myself to see if there were any catches, and I sure can’t find any. The discs showed up promptly and they didn’t try to cross-sell me any junk I didn’t need.

If you’re someone who ever does installations of Windows from scratch — or if you have friends or family members stuck on dialup who you suspect aren’t running Windows Update as often as they should — this is something you shouldn’t pass up. (Though considering how much money they’ve made off their OS monopoly, they should probably at least send the CDs by express courier, or singing telegram!)