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Microsoft has 34 new Windows updates. Do you really need them?

As Windows users, I'm sure you've picked up the fact that Microsoft releases product updates every second Tuesday of the month. In fact, Microsoft even calls it "Update Tuesday." Click here if you aren't sure whether or not your computer is installing these updates.

In spite of how it seems sometimes, Update Tuesday isn't just an excuse for Microsoft to make you reboot your computer and sit around waiting while your computer displays colorful progress bars on your screen. Many of those updates are essential for keeping your computer safe from the latest threats or fixing problems that could make it unstable. So, how bad is it when Microsoft releases two sets of patches in a single month, like it just did?

Yes, you read that right, Microsoft just released a second round of Windows patches. And unlike some months where it's only one or two, this update numbers 34 individual installations. That sounds scary.

Fortunately, it isn't as bad as you might think. These updates are all listed as "optional," and depending on your hardware and operating system, you probably won't see more than a handful of them.

Most of these updates are fixes for tiny problems you won't ever notice. My favorite is one titled "Layout of Cambria font is different in Word documents when the text metric changes in Windows 8.1 or Windows 8." I can't tell you how many times that exact problem has ruined my whole day.

Other ones that might be more helpful are "The InputPersonalization.exe process crashes in Windows," "Narrator does not stop reading when you press Ctrl key in Windows," or "UHS-3 cards cannot be detected in Windows on Surface devices." However, even then I doubt many of you are dealing with those.

To see which of these updates are available for your computer, go to the Windows Update area. In Windows 7 and Vista, go to Start>>Control Panel.

In Windows 8, using a mouse, right-click in the lower right corner of the screen and choose Control Panel. If you're using a touch screen, swipe from the right of the screen and tap Settings>>Control Panel.

Once you're in Control Panel, click "System and Security" and then under Windows Update click "Check for updates." On the update screen, click the link that says there are optional updates available. Then you can select the ones you want to install, or hide the ones you don't care about.

To find out what an update does in Windows 7 and Vista, double-click on it and under More Info open the Microsoft Knowledge Base article. In Windows 8 you can click the "Details" link and then the "More Info" link.

If you haven't been noticing any problems with your computer, then you don't need to install any of them. However, even if you don't need them, you can install them without hurting Windows. So it's up to you what you want to do.

Did this update fix your dreaded Cambria formatting problem? Let me know in the comments below.

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