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Windows automatically downloads security updates and patches, but unlike Linux, you have to manually update your installed software. But there are several ways to upgrade most installed applications on your Windows system:

1. FileHippo Checker


It's an applications which scans your Windows PC for installed software and then checks filehippo.com to see if there are any new releases. FileHippo Checker is free and under 100 kb in size, runs on Vista, XP, 2003, 2000, ME or 98 and requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 to work.

2. Personal Software Inspector

Personal Software Inspector

It is an applications that will scan your machine for software that might pose a security risk and comes with two interfaces: novice and advanced. The level of risk is presented in multi-color bars so the user knows the risk involved.

Personal Software Inspector runs on Windows XP - Service Pack 2 or later, Windows 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 2000 - Service Pack 4 - Windows 2000 - Service Pack 4.

3. Secunia Online Inspector

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This is the browser-based version of Personal Software Inspector (presented above) which runs completely inside your browser using a Java applet. It scans your PC online and promts you what applications need an update - but it only works for most common applications such as Firefox, Adobe Reader, iTunes, Flash Player, Thunderbird, Skype or Yahoo Messenger. It basically scans for about 100 common applications while the stand-alone application Personal Software Inspector can find updates to about 1000 applications. Secunia Online Inspector runs on Windows XP SP2 or later, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows 2003 and Windows Vista and requires one of the following browsers to run: Internet Explorer 6.x or 7.x, Opera 9.x, Mozilla Firefox 2.x or 3.x and Safari for Windows 3.x.

[via labnol]