Many Windows Users Get Unwanted Updates

Windows Desktop Search gets installed on your computer whether you want it or not.

What better gift could Apple ask for with the launch of its "Leopard" Mac OS X v. 10.5? How about a PR disaster surrounding Windows? That's what Microsoft has on its hands thanks to the second incident in as many months involving Windows Update.

Last month, Windows bloggers and news sites began reporting that they'd noticed Windows Update, the utility that downloads and installs fixes from Microsoft, was surreptitiously updating Windows machines.

A few weeks later it was discovered that there was a stealth change: Windows Update patched itself without informing the user and it broke Windows Update in the process.

Now there's anger over an update being pushed out, even if people don't run Windows Update. The update in question is Windows Desktop Search 3.01, which Microsoft was pushing out with Windows Live automatically. Now, it seems it's being pushed out with any Windows update.

What's worse, once WDS is installed it begins indexing the computer. If you try to uninstall the feature, it forces the computer to reboot (no reboot was required when WDS was installed) and then tries to reinstall itself again when you go to Windows Update.

WDS is installed not only on desktop computers but servers as well. This is keeping the WDS support board very busy. Microsoft declined to comment when contacted by

But the Windows Server Update Service group admitted in a blog posting it had made a mistake. WSUS automatically auto-approves updates to existing products by default, and WSUS assumed that WDS was a revision to software already installed on the user's computer, the posting said.

Now Microsoft is getting an earful, particularly from admins who have to remove WDS from all their office computers. "Let's see 172 desktops to uninstall WDS; WSUS turned off per management. [sic] Oh yeah, declined update pushed to all deskstops [sic] anyway. Of course I trust innovative Microsoft! I don't mind so much that you guys look like bozos. I do mind when you get me on the bus," wrote one angry user on Microsoft's support boards.

"Microsoft, what gives? What gives you the right to update our computers without our permission? What made you think that adding the ability to override our setting in WSUS was a good idea?" demanded another.

Mike Cherry, lead Windows analyst for Directions on Microsoft, was no less pleased.

"Fundamentally what I'm hearing and what bothers me the most is that Microsoft keeps thinking it knows what's best for me and I didn't put them in that position," he told

The issue for Microsoft becomes one of credibility and trustworthiness, Cherry added. "If you believe the customer should be in control of their computer, then you should leave them in control of their computer. If Microsoft can't get that right, why should you believe them for their privacy policy or any other promise they make?" he said.

This article was first published on

Comment and Contribute


(Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.