Windows Update automatically changing user settings (again)

Windows Update automatically changing user settings (again)

Summary: After Patch Tuesday this week (October 9), some Windows Vista users noticed something strange: Windows Update had changed their Automatic Update settings and rebooted their machines automatically without their consent.


After Patch Tuesday this week (October 9), some Windows Vista users noticed something strange: Windows Update had changed their Automatic Update settings and rebooted their machines automatically without their consent.Windows Update automatically changing user settings (again)

The new report comes on the heels of recent complaints regarding Windows Update performing stealth updates on users' machines who had turned off Automatic Updates. (Microsoft officials subsequently explained that glitch by saying that Windows Update requires self-updating before it is able to recognize that new updates are available. Microsoft promised to be clearer, in the future, in communicating this requirement.)

The AeroXperience Web site reported a new Windows Update problem on October 10, and was told by Microsoft that the company was aware of the issue and were digging into what happened and why.

It's hard to say how many users have been affected by this week's Windows Update problem. The patch-setting override seems to not have affected users running the beta of Vista Service Pack (SP) 1, though that is not 100 percent verified, AeroXP members said. It's also not clear whether any Windows XP users were affected and/or whether Vista users who obtain their patches via Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) were hit with the same problem.

AeroXP member Rafael Rivera explained the malfunction this way:

"Woke up this morning to a Windows log in screen? Swear you set that option 'Download updates but let me choose whether to install them'? We did too.

"In what appears to be a major glitch at Microsoft, Windows users are trickling in from across the globe reporting that their machines downloaded and installed updates they did not consent to. Rubbing salt in the wound, machines were also automatically and forcefully rebooted at the default 3am time frame."

AeroXP quotes a Microsoft spokesperson who said the company currently is investigating the issue "regarding machines that are re-starting and having automatic updating settings set back to 'Install Updates Automatically,' despite having selected to be notified before installation of updates." Users who've encountered the problem should contact Microsoft Support at, Microsoft suggested.

Any users out there who encountered this problem this week?

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


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).

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  • What is wrong with the updates.

    I do keep track of updates and if something goes I can tract to update caused the problem and read the work around or uninstalll it. I have my computer set to install the updates when available.

    I only had one problem with this, back in the windows 95 days, where a bad driver was released. To fix the problem simply installed the old driver, and wait for next released.

    Keeping your computer updated protects you and your data.

    Do Linux and Mac user not update thier computers, or complain when they do get updated?
    • Nope

      when we update our computers is at our discretion and not someone elses. Unless we select automatic updates, and even then our intervention is still required.

      No the problem with these stealth updates is that you don't know something is being changed. Your system starts to perform poorly or even applications start to crash and so on. Had you known what was updated and when, then rolling back is a breeze. But when you don't know... then how do you fix it?

      Also if you as a user have expressly turned automatic updates off (which many corporations do for testing purposes) and the system STILL updates itself... then the question arises, what else is being changed without your knowledge or consent? ]:)
      Linux User 147560
    • Well,

      You have your computer set to autoupdate. Some folks don't. Some organizations will not allow autoupdates because it might break, or reboot, a system which is required to be operational 24X7. Microsoft is updating some of the computers set to not autoupdate. Microsoft is not telling people they're installing updates even if it's supposed to tell them. You said you try and track updates, do you really know what Microsoft has updated if it isn't telling you it did?

      As to Linux/Mac? Dunno exactly. My Linux machines are set for manual. Every Friday I'll go out and see what was available and whether I want it or not. This is adjustable. I could have set it to do autoupdates if I want. I have no experience with a Mac.
      • The agency I work for..

        has all computers setup to download and install critical updates, with a few exceptions. IE7, WMP, and service packs.

        They deal 1000's of PC a few hundred notebooks, and we never had a problem from the critical updates.

        Service packs are normally installed a couple months after testing.
        • The agency I worked for...

          Would never allow untested updates to be applied.

          The computers I was responsible for were not directly connected to the Internet. If there were tested updates that needed to be applied we copied it onto CD-ROM, or DAT, and hand carried them across.

          At home I have a computer, running Windows 2000 Pro, which doesn't know what the Internet is since the gateway is undefined.

          To each his own and good luck.
    • Spoken like someone living in their mom's basement

      Don't get out much, do you?

      In large IT environments, where patches are normally tested on model office machines before being rolled out, this kind of auto-auto update can create havoc. Especially if it's also happening on servers. ROFL! Take that little bit of inconvenience you describe and multiply it by a thousand. That's a pretty big hit on productivity. Now figure half the users can barely figure out where the power switch is, let alone how to roll back an update, and you have an IT department nightmare.

      Microsoft is losing it. Either that or there's something going on with these updates we won't find out about until later. Maybe when Microsoft gets in line with AT&T asking for indemnity for cooperating with government efforts to spy on Americans.
      • Our work around

        We setup our own update server at work, and remove the default routes from our servers, therefore windows update cannot get to the internet but we still have access to our servers on our LAN. It was a pain on Wednesday getting our servers back up and running, especially the exchange server. and this is why i use Linux at home now, no big bro trying to mess with my computers.
      • LOL!

        Yep, unfortunately there are some folk that are either half asleep prior to posting on this story or simply slow.

        For the benefit of the mentally challenged, UNLESS you are:

        (a) working in a Server farm

        (b) server maintenance

        (c) system maintenance


        (d) all of the above

        Go back to sleep and dream of your imaginary dreamland of stealth updates. Elsewise, for the benefit of those who actually have an 'inkling' about what the repercussions are for an enterprise as opposed to single-users - put a sock in it!
    • It is all in the timing

      It sure would peeve me off to find out that my web server was rebooted and had been down since 9PM last night (the last I checked it) due to an automatic update, waking up this morning to find out that it never fully came back after the reboot. I would also be peeved to read the 6 or 7 complain emails and have to track down whether the transaction actually occurred.

      The above is theoretical, but it makes the point, I don't run a windows website.

      There is NOTHING wrong with updates, even downloading them automatically, but many people need/mandate that they control when they are installed and activated. This can cause IT fits, they NEED to test all patches and check for side effects BEFORE they allow users to install it. IT wakes up to have 120 people calling asking why they can't access widget XYZ on the corporate page kind of thing.

    • Re: What is wrong with the updates.

      You've been lucky if you've only had one problem. Generally for the average user auto updates are great but... it's my phone the rings off the hook when something goes wrong. Sometimes you just have to take the lesser of the two evils if you know what I mean...
    • Not when it kills a long software build.

      Talk about $%#% me off. And I have auto-update turned OFF. Don't know what the
      heck just happened on XP, but it decided to update and reboot without permission.
      Killed a long software build right in the middle.

      The reboot should NEVER EVER EVER EVER (and I mean ever) happen without
      confirmation. Talk about E%@$% me off.
  • Microsoft's investigating it?

    Riiiiight. Does ANYONE really think this is an accident? I've been a programmer long enough to know this can't happen by accident. You have to specifically code an override for it.

    This is the second time in the last few months that Microsoft has hacked its users' computers. Where are the class-action lawsuits?
    • Probably won't see any

      because too many sheeple will just accept it and continue with receiving the abuse they have been getting for years. They are accustomed to it. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
    • Waived

      [i]This is the second time in the last few months that Microsoft has hacked its users' computers. Where are the class-action lawsuits?[/i]

      Users agreed to let Microsoft update their systems by accepting the EULA. If MS doing so bothers them, they shouldn't have agreed in the first place.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Unfortunately... are right.

        EULA = sign your life away!
        • Not really

          The EULA says that Windows can download things to our computers. It says nothing about installing them. That requires user consent. When Microsoft overrides the consent requirement behind our backs, they're hacking us. It's no different from a criminal using a trojan to establish a backdoor into someone's system, and they have done it twice in the last few months.
    • their

      coming soon is my estimation. I can see the lawyers chomping at the bits over this one.
  • RE: Windows Update automatically changing user settings (again)

    i have 3 machines, 2 on XP and one on Vista and none of them rebooted or did anything that was not scheduled.
    • You should of connect them to the Internet

      Our machines at work rebooted... End of story.

      I hate these rebootes since I always leave my desktop in order where I have ~15 application windows open.
      Solid Water
      • Skype was down for a while

        And systems at work have been rebooting and costing our company money due to updates being pushed. This is even with windows update pointing at an internal server.