Although Microsoft provides a method to turn off automatic updates in Control Panel, System, Properties (see Figure 7), that option doesn't seem to be the best solution. On a Windows 2000 domain, you can use a Group Policy to turn off automatic updates on all your Windows XP computers. In case you are unable to deploy Group Policies, or on standalone computers, disable the Windows Update service (wuauserv) in the Services MMC. Go to Administrative Tools, Services, and configure the startup type of the Automatic Updates service to be Disabled, as shown in Figure 8. Then stop the service and apply the change.
Figure 7 Turning off automatic updates.
Figure 8 Disabling the Automatic Updates service.
In case you are wondering about the dependencies of this service on other components, you can click on the Dependencies tab to verify that this service has no dependencies. It doesn't rely on any other service to start, and no other service depends on this particular service. Needless to say, if you turn off automatic updates, then you are responsible for manually updating your computer by going to the Windows Update Web site. If this proves to be a daunting task, you can leave the startup type to its default Automatic state and select one of the other notification settings in Figure 7. The default setting is the middle one, which notifies you before downloading and installing any updates.