Is Your Computer Up To Date?

What would you answer if someone asked you if your computer was up to date? If answer that you have a fairly new model you need to read on.

The question, if you have a Microsoft Windows machine, is actually around whether you have automatic updates turned on within Windows and whether you have allowed them to install.

No software, including Windows, is perfect. Teams of cyber criminals around the world look for ways to exploit its imperfection and gain access to your computer to use for their own nefarious means. Most of the time you wouldn't know, some of the time such action renders your computer and any information stored on it totally useless. That's why Microsoft has a team of software engineers working on software patches on its most recent software.

Microsoft ceased support of Windows XP last month after 12 years, making it vulnerable to cyber attack. Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 are all supported, alongside versions of Microsoft Office from the last decade.

As well as making your computer more secure the automatic updates sometimes add extra features.

The latest version of Windows, 8.1, is a free upgrade from Windows 8 and can be found in the Windows store. It brings the Window shaped Start button back to the desktop.

In Windows 8.1 apps sit either on the Start screen or a swipe down away. The Start screen is more customisable, with more live tile sizes. Or you can skip the Start screen all together and go straight to the desktop on start up.

The default location to save your files is OneDrive, the virtual hard drive which Microsoft provides with any Hotmail, Windows Live and now Outlook account. This means you can sign in to any Windows 8.1 machine with an internet connection anywhere in the world and get access to your files.

The latest updates in Windows 8.1, the latest version of Microsoft's operating system, add a search button to the Start screen along with a Power button that allows you to put the computer into Sleep mode, Shut down or Restart. It includes Bing Smart Search which looks for whatever you types in the search bar on the internet and on your computer. You can run and see up to four different Windows 8 style applications on your computer simultaneously. There's more apps in the Windows Store too.

Ensure updates are switched on by typing "Windows Update" and clicking on "Check for Updates".