5 March 2009

Automatic Update May Force-Feed You

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Here’s a fun thing to try, as re-verified tonight in XP SP3: Set Automatic Updates to “Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them”, then when the yellow shield shows new updates are ready to install, go “Advanced”, UNcheck all of them, and ignore the prompt.

Now do the same thing with the yellow shield.  See how the updates are checked again?  UNcheck them again, as you did before.

Now go to the Start Menu, Turn Off Computer.  Notice how the dialog box is set to install updates, with the non-icon link text to shutdown without installing them?

In tonight’s case, the updates were two; one, a self-serving “Genuine Advantage” for MS Office, and the other, something to update with Windows Live Sign-In Assistant.

I’ve debated this topic in a security newsgroup, who are gung-ho to have us consumers swallow updates immediately, even if they advise against immediately rolling updates across their own corporate network “production machines” before these are tested.  Well, as a consumer, I have a network of one crucial “production machine”, I don’t have pro-grade in-house testing capabilities, and yet I don’t want my system adversely impacted either.

As it stands, you can read “Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them” to mean “let me choose whether to install them right now, or have them forced into the system on next shutdown” or (as I did), “let me choose whether or not to install them at all”.  I want my downloaded updates stored somewhere in a redirectable location (hint: Not C:) so that I can initiate installation when I choose.  Yes, pre-check them in the yellow shield dialog box, but if I assert my desire to NOT install them by UNchecking them, then DO NOT install them.