Microsoft Updating Computers Without User Permission

Dennis Faas's picture

In yet another shining example of Microsoft having too much control of your PC, the company is reportedly up to its old tricks again by secretively updating files on Windows XP and Windows Vista without consent of the user.

Even with automatic updates turned off, nine small executable files needed by Windows Update in Windows XP and Windows Vista were secretly altered by Microsoft. Companies requiring testing of patches before deployment are not happy about receiving the updates. For what it's worth, Microsoft claims that only consumer editions of Vista were affected.

No mention of the updates to users

What's disturbing about this is the fact that files on your computer can be changed without your knowledge. It opens up a whole new Pandora's box in regards to what else Microsoft can do to your computer without your consent or knowledge and raises serious questions about the way Microsoft does things.

No official response from Microsoft was immediately available, but a user identified as Dean-Dean in a Microsoft Communities forum explained the update: "Windows Update Software 7.0.6000.381 is an update to Windows Update itself. It is an update for both Windows XP and Windows Vista. Unless the update is installed, Windows Update won't work, at least in terms of searching for further updates. Normal use of Windows Update, in other words, is blocked until this update is installed."

No mention from Microsoft as to why they decided to perform a stealth installation, or what issues the updates are supposed to address has been offered, but the Microsoft Update Product Team Blog tried to offer an explanation as to why Windows Update updates itself, but in typical Microsoft fashion, all it does is make things a little more confusing.

Files changed by the update

In the Microsoft forum post by Dean-Dean, he names the files that were secretly updated.

In Microsoft Windows Vista the following files were changed:

  • wuapi.dll
  • wuapp.exe
  • wuauclt.exe
  • wuaueng.dll
  • wucltux.dll
  • wudriver.dll
  • wups.dll
  • wups2.dll
  • wuwebv.dll

In Windows XP SP2 the following files are changed:

  • cdm.dll
  • wuapi.dll
  • wuauclt.exe
  • wuaucpl.cpl
  • wuaueng.dll
  • wucltui.dll
  • wups.dll
  • wups2.dll
  • wuweb.dll

There appears to be no malicious intent or harm done by the updates, and Windows Update does require them to function properly, but the question remains as to why Microsoft chose to install them behind everyone's back and what behavior can be expected from Microsoft in the future.

Microsoft needs to quit providing more reasons for customers to stop using their products, and as I've said before, a more detailed explanation of all the "services and features" in Windows XP and especially Windows Vista wouldn't hurt either. More information about the shady actions can be found from Zdnet, Microsoft Watch and CNET.

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