Brian Livingston's Windows Secrets newsletter actually covered just this subject over the past couple of weeks.
Gratuitous plug for something I love: The Windows Secrets newsletter is an awesome source of info, and its payment scheme is similar to DC - you can get a basic version of the newsletter for free. If you upgrade to the "paid" version (paying whatever you think the newsletter is worth) you get a much fuller-featured newletter and some extra bonuses too, like downloadable e-books.
So go to windowssecrets.com
and check it out! (end of plug)
Anyway, there is a company called Shavlik Technologies (www.shavlik.com
) that makes a tool that does everything Windows Update does, and more. It was originally geared towards Corporate MIS types, but there is a "personal" version available. And it's now free!
The edition of Windows Secrets that discusses this solution (and tips on how to use it) is here: http://windowssecrets.com/comp/060720/
. To quote:
WindizUpdate.com, an independent patch-download system, which I've been asked about by many readers, is a flawed alternative to Windows Update that I can't recommend. By contrast, patch-management software that's well-supported, such as Shavlik's NetChkPro, provides an inexpensive and reliable solution that far exceeds Windows Update's capabilities.
* * *
NetChk Protect, when installed on a single PC, scans across a peer-to-peer network or a server domain to determine which machines need updates for Windows, Microsoft Office, Firefox, Adobe Reader, WinZip, RealPlayer, Macromedia Flash, and other programs. The application can then deploy (install) the updates you determine. There's no need to preinstall an "agent" program to those other machines or visit them one-by-one to run the installs.
An antispyware disk and memory scan can also be conducted by NetChk Protect upon demand. This scan shouldn't interfere with other antispyware programs' scans, if they aren't carried out at the same time. NetChk Protect also offers real-time spyware protection, calling it Active Protection. This possibly could conflict with the real-time features of Webroot Spy Sweeper and similar antispyware utilities. But Active Protection isn't turned on unless you specifically configure the program that way.
There is also a solution for people who want to update PCs that are not connected to the Internet. However it involves downloading a gigantic baseline patch and then periodic updates that weigh in at about 30-70 meg each. If you think you need that, go to www.autopatcher.com