Microsoft’s Silent Windows Update Updates

In a concession that isn’t going to earn Microsoft any trust in the larger computing community, Microsoft has publicly admited its will issue and install “silent” updates to its Windows Update software on end-users computers, even in some cases where users have specifically chosen not to have Microsoft software updates downloaded and installed automatically. The updates in question are revisions to Microsoft’s Windows Update feature, rather than patches or changes to any other component of the Windows operating system; Microsoft claims these silent updates are necessary if Windows Update is to continue functioning as users expect.

Although Microsoft is not explicitly apologizing for updating software on users’ computers without their explicit permission, Microsoft’s Nick White writes in the Windows Vista team blog: “We do recognize that we should have been clearer in our explanation of this process earlier in the game.”

According to Microsoft, Windows Update does not automatically update itself if users have selected not check for automatic updates. However, if users have configured Windows Update to either check for updates and prompt the user to download and install them, or automatically download updates and prompt the user for permission to install them, Windows Update may automatically download and install updates to itself. According to Microsoft, this self-update is necessary to enable Windows Update to continue to poll for updated software; thus, the self-update is necessary to carry out the users’ configured wishes to poll for other updated Windows software.

However, some information contradicts Microsoft’s description of the self-update procedure. Windows Secrets says it has seen Windows Update update its own software even when users have Windows Update disabled, and Microsoft’s Nick White wrote the self-updates happen “regardless of whether the user has enabled automatic checking, download and/or installation of updates.”

Windows Update is widely used by consumers and small businesses as a mechanism to make sure they have the most recent Windows software components; however, it is not widely used in large organizations or enterprises, which use centralized software management tools to control software installed on enterprise computers.

The concern over Windows Update’s self-upgrading feature is two-fold: one concern is that it presents yet another possible vector for attack: if worm writers or other malware authors can find a way to take advantage of this automatic behavior, they may be able to compromise users’ PCs. The second concern is perhaps more troubling to Microsoft: despite the company’s much publicized dedication to resolving security issues within Microsoft Windows over the last several years, and their commitment to publicly document Windows features and enable users to control their own computers, the company never disclosed this self-updating functionality. At the very least, it’s egg on the software giant’s face.

Home Theater

Apple’s new AirPods bring only minor updates to the much-loved originals

Apple has announced its new AirPods, the much-anticipated follow-up to Apple's wildly popular AirPods. With optional wireless charging and hands-free Siri, it's a minor update, but a welcome one.
Cars

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.
Computing

Nvidia’s smart paintbrush tool turns simple doodles into works of art

Nvidia has announced a new deep-learning-enhanced drawing app that can turn your doodles and sketches into highly realistic images. With Nvidia's GauGAN, simple sketches can be automatically embellished with more vivid details.
Computing

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Deals

Here are the best Chromebook deals available in March 2019

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- that won't…
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for March 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Deals

Looking for a Chromebook? The Google PixelBook just got a $200 price cut

Once relatively obscure, Chromebooks have come into their own in a big way in recent years. One of our favorites is the super-sleek Google Pixelbook, and it's on sale right now from Amazon for $200 off, letting you score this premium laptop…
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Computing

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up Speech Recognition in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.
Computing

Get the most out of your high-resolution display by tweaking its DPI scaling

Windows 10 has gotten much better than earlier versions at supporting today's high-resolution displays. If you want to get the best out of your monitor, then check out our guide on how to adjust high-DPI scaling in Windows 10.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Computing

Nvidia’s GTX 1650 graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over the 1050 Ti

Rumors suggest Nvidia might soon launch the GTX 1650, and a leaked benchmark listing from Final Fantasy XV suggests that the new graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over last generation's GTX 1050 Ti. 
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Computing

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code.