Microsoft responded today to the the online reports
regarding the behavior of the Windows update mechanism which turned into the running state even when users had explicitly disabled the operating systems' automatic update feature.
The company's response came after users expressed concern over
updates to XP and Vista machines that were pushed out even when they
had turned off the automatic updating feature of Windows Update. The
updates were noted as "secret updates" in published reports and on
user forums, and Windows users expressed concern that Microsoft
would update their computer files without their knowledge or
The story began when Scott Dunn, an editor at the "Windows Secrets"
newsletter, said that nine files in XP and Vista ? but not the same
files in each operating system ? have been changed by Windows
Update, without displaying the usual notification or permission
The Microsoft Update team has posted a statement addressing the
Windows Update's self-updating behavior. The upshot is that a
longstanding procedure in Windows Update requires it to self-update
before it is able to recognize that new updates are available (note:
WU does not conduct a self-update event each and every time it
checks for updates). This self-updating is done regardless of
whether the user has enabled automatic checking, download and/or
installation of updates.
"It does so in an effort to avoid WU misleading the user to think
s/he is up-to-date simply because s/he was not receiving
notification that updates are available," Microsoft said. "Put
another way, WU cannot alert the user that there are security
updates available if it is not in the necessary updated state that
will allow it to recognize those updates," the company added.
"Windows Update does not automatically update itself when Automatic
Updates is turned off, this only happens when the customer is using
WU to automatically install upgrades or to be notified of updates,"
said Nate Clinton, Program Manager, Windows Update.
However, Microsoft acknowledged that it could have better informed
users about how Windows Update behaves so as not to spur the
confusion that ensued with updates that were sent out last month.
"However, we do recognize that we should have been clearer in our
explanation of this process earlier in the game," the company said
in its statement.