Back in September of 2007 Microsoft carried out what I and many others at the time considered to be a pretty big breach of trust and pushed a stealth update for the Windows Update mechanism. What's wrong with that, you might ask? Well, as it turned out the update disrupted some Windows XP users ability to repair their installation. Not good, and precisely the reason why there are some people who like to know exactly what is being installed on their systems, and control when that happens.
Well, according to Microsoft, there's another update to the Windows Update mechanism ready to be unleashed. The difference between this update and the stealth update from back in 2007 is that Microsoft is being more open about this update and actually talking about it before it hits the download servers and starts getting installed on systems.
Why update Windows Update?
Here's the reason given by Microsoft:
So what are we doing this time? Well, this particular update won’t really change the way the client looks or feels to you, but you may notice some improvements in the length of time it takes Windows Update to scan for updates and how quickly you’ll receive signature updates. For example, in this update, we’ve invested heavily in reducing the amount of time it takes the Windows Update agent to scan to see if new updates are available. In this case, we’ve seen some instances of the scan times on some machines decreasing almost 20 percent.
Who will get this update automatically?
It depends on your Windows Update settings. Under Windows Vista there are four possible settings for Windows Update:
Similarly, under Windows XP there are four settings:
This update to the Windows Update agent will be updated automatically on both Windows Vista and Windows XP systems unless Windows Update has been switched off. That is, set to Never check for updates (not recommended) under Vista or Turn off Automatic Updates under XP. All tghe other settings will be taken by Microsoft has an indication that you want these updates to the Windows Update mechanism to come in and be installed.
If you don't want this update to come in, you need to make these changes soon.
My thoughts ...
My take on this is that the way that Windows Update updates itself is still flawed if updates are pushed to users who have explicitly stated that they don't want updates to be installed without permission, or don't want updates downloaded or installed without their consent. After all, if you don't feel that way, why bother setting it up that way? It's a very weak argument to suggest that Windows Update is on unless it is switched off and to override what seem to me like clear choices that users have set to allow them to have control over what comes in and is installed. If the wording on these settings wasn't clear enough or there were exceptions, Microsoft should have taken Vista SP1/XP SP3 as an opportunity to clarify things.
I just can't understand why Download updates but let me choose whether to install them or Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them doesn't mean what it says it means and why Microsoft can't accept that. As they stand, these settings are misleading at best.
That said, I've installed this update on a couple of systems and so far haven't come across any negative side effects.
Which operating systems will get the update?
This update will apply to:
Further details about this update can be found here.