Users of Linux always have a smile on their face when it comes to system updates and even upgrades. They launch a tool like Synaptic to update all of their system files and also their applications.
This can be done by all users without much hassle; you can even run that task in the background.
Because all applications can be installed from a single repository, system management becomes quite easy.
Windows on the other side is used be many more casual users and is often filled with applications - either pre-installed or because a PC mag comes with a big bundle of full versions the user wants to try.
Keeping all those applications updated can be a long task, one has to find out who the developer is and where the updates can be obtained from. Applications try to help by "phoning home" to check if a new version is available but when a personal firewall is installed this mechanism is blocked or manually disabled. This can lead to a possible vulnerability in an out-of-date application, which could leave the computer open to malware and malicious attack. This is particularly prevalent in applications installed for a long time - Acrobat Reader, Flash Player, Microsoft Office and Web Browsers, for example.
Adding basic protection
A first step is to enable Microsoft Update
and also keep your antivirus up to date. I've seen enough Windows installations where an antivirus solution came pre-installed, but after the free subscription expired, the users didn't care about a renewal. Starting with Windows Vista, the Microsoft updates run in the background as the updates on Linux and it's a good start to keep that mechanism active.
Adding protection against security vulnerabilities
This leaves the user still with all other applications that might need an update too. Here, the security companies come into play. One I want to introduce is Secunia.
Secunia offers a scanner free for personal use to scan the computer for outdated applications.
Their statistics tell that "The average user without the Secunia PSI has 12 insecure programs installed on their PC" and they point out "Did you know that many of the hacker attacks and security threats today exploit software vulnerabilities and code flaws?" Of cause that scanner doesn't know all applications; they focus on those with a big market share. After the analysis, the tool shows the user all old applications and number of existing security flaws. Taking their suggestions, it's easy to keep all those applications updated since they provide the user with a download link making it easy to find all updates.
Keeping whole Windows updated
But there are still applications that contain no real security flaw, but there is still an update available. These applications can be checked with the new informer software. "Software Informer is a program that has been specially designed for those users who care to keep their applications functional and ready for any task that might arise. Its primary aim is to give you the up-to-date information about the software you actually use."
You can get it from here: Software Informer
With Microsoft Updates enabled, Antivirus Protection with a valid subscription plan, regular scans of a security scanner and Software informer, you keep your windows installation in shape.
I would also suggest using the free Crap Cleaner
to remove left over files and to clean the Internet cache of your web browser(s).