I’ve never been a fan of software that forces downloads down my throat, especially without my express permission, which is why I’ve always set Windows Update and any other application, game, etc to NOT download updates automatically. Why, because I’m a firm believer in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
And this has SO much been the case with just about any Microsoft product ever since I can remember. How many times have you experienced or read about an update (or even a service pack) ruining machines or causing more problems than there were to begin with after they were installed? Countless!
As a South African we’ve not really had the pleasure of bandwidth (cost being the biggest issue) so I, like many other South Africans, until recently, had been a dial-up user up until a few months ago. Have you ever tried downloading big updates (never mind trying a service pack) using dial-up? But as a newly converted ADSL user, bandwidth is still a cost issue for us South Africans, so my Windows Update settings are still set to Check for Updates (no updates are downloaded and you’re notified that updates are available for download and install). As a tech-savvy computer user I keep up-to-date with the latest news and know most of the time where there are vulnerabilities in my machine and decide myself whether or not a certain update is required or not. I don’t have unnecessary services running and don’t use certain Windows components on my home machine so I’m comfortable deciding when and what Windows Update downloads and installs on my machine.
And now on to the crux of the matter, it appears that Microsoft has for a long time decided that as long as there is an Internet connection available Windows Update will update itself whenever it wants to, without your knowledge or approval. Which in my mind means Microsoft has imposed on us Spyware (interestingly Microsoft’s Malicious Software Tool seems to ignore it).
Scott Dunn has been a contributing editor for PC World since 1992 and he’s also supplying articles for the Windows Secrets website. There’s a great article explaining in more details how Windows Update actually works and how to tweak it to your needs.