Microsoft addresses new reports of forced Windows updates and reboots

Microsoft addresses new reports of forced Windows updates and reboots

Summary: Microsoft has posted a long and complex explanation to its Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) blog, explaining the latest case of why software updates are being pushed to users who believe they've turned automatic updating off. Here's the abridged version of what the Redmondians said.

SHARE:

Microsoft has posted a long and complex explanation to its Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) blog, explaining the latest case of why software updates are being pushed to users who believe they've turned automatic updating off.Microsoft addresses new reports of forced Windows updates and reboots

The UK Register reported on October 25 that a number of admins were seeing Microsoft Desktop Search 3.01 pushed out to users via Microsoft's WSUS enterprise patching/update system, in spite of having opted out of this "resource-hogging search app."

Bobbie Harder, Microsoft Product Manager for WSUS, explained why some companies were seeing the updated Windows Desktop Search bits (aka, the updated package for KB917013) pushed to their users. It turns out Microsoft changed the deployment rules after the original release of Windows Desktop Search. Harder noted:

"The original update release, released February 2007 as an optional update, was only applicable on systems which had a version of Windows Desktop Search installed. The recent update Revision 105, had the applicability logic expanded to be applicable to all systems regardless if a prior version of Windows Desktop Search was installed, IF of course, approved in the WSUS Administrative UI or via Administrator-set auto-approval rules."

Harder summarized:

  • "The initial February 2007 (WIndows Desktop Search 3.01) release had to be purposely checked/approved by WSUS admin s sfor distribution, because it was an Optional update.
  • "All subsequent metadata-only revisions to that WSUS admin approved February 2007 release would then also be automatically approved for distribution.
  • "The initial February approval is retained throughout the life of the update, regardless of revision."

Microsoft realizes this policy is creating confusion, Harder said, and will subsequently be "tightening the criteria for Revisions so that auto-approval of revision behaivors are more predictable and of similar scope as the original approved update."

Meanwhile, there's a new theory circulating as to why a number of Windows XP and Vista users are reporting that their machines are patching and forcibly rebooting themselves. It might be Windows Live OneCare's fault.

Microsoft officials said earlier this week that there were no problems with Microsoft's Automatic Update (AU) patching mechanism, nor with patches delivered on October 9 as part of Patch Tuesday that might be causing the automatic rebooting. Instead, company officials said they believed users an/or their admins -- whether they realized it or not -- were changing their preferences on Automatic Update to allow automatic updating and forced rebooting.

Microsoft officials said on October 25 they were looking into new reports of AU-related problems introduced via Windows Live Onecare and would provide more information once they determined whether or not OneCare might be the culprit behind reported rogue rebooting.

Vista marketing officials acknowledged this week that the company realizes it need to do a better job of explaining and implementing Windows Update/Automatic Update policies in order to maintain users' trust.

Update (late in the evening, EST, on October 25): Microsoft has provided some additional information pertaining to ongoing reports of rogue reboots.

On the consumer side of the house, the OneCare team is acknowledging that OneCare can and will override users' Microsoft Update settings -- opting for Automatic Updates to be installed by default -- in the name of simplicity. But the team is reevaluating the best way to make users more aware of this fact, going forward. From a posting on the OneCare Team blog:

"In the first OneCare boot experience we have gone to great lengths to disclose that OneCare may automatically effect changes to user settings in order to help best protect the user. When you first install Windows Live OneCare, setup informs you that if you choose to proceed your computer settings will be changed to automatically download and install important updates from Microsoft Update (a Microsoft service that provides software updates for Windows components and other Microsoft programs). You may still choose whether or not to install recommended and optional updates. "

On the enterprise/WSUS side, there's new information that has been added to the WSUS Team blog, as of this evening. Company officials explained a mistake the WSUS team made when rolling out an update to Windows Desktop Search this past Tuesday, and is providing information to help users uninstall any copies of WDS that were pushed erroneously to them without their approval.

 

(Broken glass window. Image by nationalrural. CC 2.0)

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

220 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • No means no.

    No updates should equal turning off the windows update service, and setting it to something else should re-emble the service.

    It should be that simple. Maybe it is a user problem, but Microsoft should take a deep breath, find out the way users would expect the feature to work both implied and actual, and re-code windows update to work in a way that matches those user expectations.
    croberts
    • Why?

      [i]Microsoft should take a deep breath, find out the way users would expect the feature to work both implied and actual, and re-code windows update to work in a way that matches those user expectations.[/i]

      That's a lot of work for them to do when they can just tell people to suck it up and quit whining -- or, perhaps better yet, deny that there's a problem at all.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Or, even better . . .

        . . .get No_Ax, Lovey and the other MS cultists to just muddy the waters until the topic fades away . . .
        critic-at-arms
        • Good one

          We could all tell them we will go switch to Mac's unless they fix it. All they do is make excuses for their screw ups. LOL
          But you make a good a POINT.
          njackson_521@...
    • Isn't what they said they are doing? (nt)

      .
      No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Whyizit dat...

      Microsoft is to these software brouhahas as Senator Harry Reid is to the political scene?

      "Yes I did say that...no I didn't say that." ?

      Yes, I use a computer at work and I R dalocal "geek" 2 fix tings. I R also - in my private time - a political wonk (coming from Massachusetts, politics is a blood sport hobby.) There are some remarkable parallels between the two fields, recently.

      Just an observation...
      soapymac@...
      • Hey!

        Is that a crack about all us Ron Paul uber-hackers who keep slamming all those post-debate polls?
        Henry Miller
    • It is not a user problem unless it is my

      responsibility to thing that MS is doing.

      Last night I ran Windows Update, as I regularly do, to see if there was anything new for me to install. There wasn't. However, just as I was about to close the window when I noticed a little box on the right side of the screen that looked like an advertisement. It said that Windows Update was set to update automatically and asked that I click to set the optimal time for WU to do its work.

      My WU is always turned off. It was turned off before I went to the update web page. But, sure enough, when I went into the Security Center it was now turned on.

      Sheesh! All I did was log onto the web page. If I had not seen and read that box I would be vulnerable again.
      RudyTome2
      • User choices ignored .. another example - Outlook

        Reminds me of another Microsoft annoyance. I use Thunderbird for my email and want it to be the default email client. However, I do have Office 2003 installed and along with that Outlook2003. If I so much as do an outlook security update ir dare launch the rotten miserable application it sets itself as the default mail program, against my wishes.

        I suppose I should just uninstall it so it can't continually set itself as the default. But, there is a small functionality of it that I have used in the past. I guess I just might just uninstall it anyway; No real loss there I suppose, and it is using a valuable chunk of disk space.
        Computer_User_1024
    • Anyone surprised at the Bloatfarm tactics?

      Hey people! This is an appropriately adjudicated abusive monopolist which has had to pay$billions in fines.

      Abuse is in its genetic makeup. A mere cursory reading of any decent biography of the Beastmaster indicates that he is a serial abuser; likewise for the monkeyboy.

      Nothing from the Redmond bloatfarm can be surprising. It is and always has been an ethics free zone where the user is merely a revenue excuse.

      Give up on the Stockholm Syndrome! Stop sending your money to the hostage takers; find a new way!
      Jeremy W
      • They don't have to pay

        "Hey people! This is an appropriately adjudicated abusive monopolist which has had to pay$billions in fines."

        They don't pay the fines... WE DO. After they get caught screwing us (without so much as a 'by your leave m'am) they raise the price of the next product they foist on us to cover their litagatory losses. I'm beginning to understand what the anology of "sore" refers to becomming angry!
        qtrback
      • Yes, there is a new way

        ---Stop sending your money to the hostage takers; find a new way!---

        Yes, there is a new way, if you would but pronounce the L-word.
        apsteffe
        • YUP!.....I am not too scared to pronounce

          the "L-word": ...[b][u]LINUX[/u][/b]! :D

          There is NO sense in beating around the flowering shrub about it!!! :|

          [b]Linux ROX!!![/b]
          btljooz
          • Mine.

            I agree. Several days ago, after Microsoft software "protected" me by repeatedly denying receipt of a file that a colleague sent to me I politely explained to Microsoft that they needed to be somewhere else other than in My computer.

            I firmly believe that until computer use and maintenance reaches the same level of regulation as those that govern automobiles computer owners have the right to be as risky and obsolete as they want.

            Picture this scenario - in the dark of night cops smash through your front door. As you and your family huddle in terror, your children whimpering in fear, the cops ransack your apartment until they find the offender. Laughing maniacally they rip the dastardly computer from the its perch and throw it into the street where it will be carried away never to see the light of day again. The horrible offense? Failure to install the latest anti-virus software.

            Does that sound absurd? Frighteningly it also sounds realiastic.
            drdorociak@...
    • And...

      Yes means yes. Once you approve, it's approved for ever!
      dogknees
  • "All your computer are <i>still</i> belong to us."

    Arrogance combined with incompetence--bad combination.
    Henrik Moller
    • I dunno . . .

      . . .it's a formula which has worked for MS over the last 25 years.
      critic-at-arms
    • Arrogance combined with incompetence

      HEY sounds like you're talking about M$.

      What's that? Oh, you were. O.K. So sorry.
      Me_too
    • Yeah, but it's [i] feigned incompetence [/i]

      How else could they retain so many users to abuse ??

      =^^=
      cat_herder_5263
    • What are you talking about?

      I have looked at your statement "All your computer are still belong to us" and it makes absolutely no sense. I guess you mean, "All of your computers still belong to us." Perhaps you mean, "Your complete computer still belongs to us." However, I doubt that you mean "All your computer" = "still belong to us" or that "still belong to us" is a state of "All your computer."

      I can understand making simple grammatical mistakes, but don't completely butcher the language.
      alaniane@...