1. Go to the Control Panel for Automatic Updates
2. Change the setting from "Automatic (Recommended)" to something like "Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them."
If you don't do this, you may be set to lose a lot of time and money. Why? Whenever there is a patch Tuesday and the patch requires a reboot, like the one this week, the recommended setting means Microsoft will reboot your system for you, unless you happen to be sitting there at the keyboard to prevent it. Here's a typical scenario:
You spend several hours researching a topic on the web. You have about ten browser tabs open displaying your research results and you are cutting and pasting said results into a Microsoft Word document. The door bell chimes and you rush to answer it. You are a savvy user so even as you head to the door you make a mental note that the two apps you are using have auto-save. Word auto-saves documents. Firefox auto-saves session data. But as you stand at the door signing for a package you hear the "chime of death" from your office, signalling that your Windows machine has restarted. Not only has it restarted, it has, under the control of Microsoft's Automatic update, has trashed your Word documents.That's right, it has not even created the temporary files that allow you to restore documents when something crashes Word. This is because Microsoft, in its current state of engorged hubris, which can only be described as galactic in scope, does not consider an unapproved system restart of its choosing to be a crash. So it only gives you the last user-saved version of the docs that you have spent an hour compiling.
Let's face it, in the year 2007, twenty years into an OS, twenty five years into an application, this is bad behavior of the worst and mist unforgivable kind. The vendor recommended mode of operation is literally data destructive.
Of course, some readers may say that, "if you are using Windows and value your time," you should switch to a Mac. But Apple has its own share of hubris and I have thousands of dollars invested in software that won't run on a Mac. Come to think of it, I have invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours creating a computer system that pretty much does what I want it to do, except when the historical recipient of many of thousands of my dollars decides to use its software and ignorance to trash my data.