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Samsung acknowledges it changes Windows Update settings on its PCs

Gregg Keizer | June 26, 2015
Samsung yesterday denied it had blocked a Windows update on its hardware but acknowledged that it was manipulating Microsoft's Windows Update, a charge leveled Tuesday by a researcher.

Samsung's statement implicitly admitted as much when its spokesperson said, "We are providing our users with the option to choose if and when they want to update the Windows software on their products."

Microsoft has long recommended that Windows users, particularly consumers, let the default Windows Update setting ride -- it's described as "Install updates automatically" -- as that is the surest way to ensure that the operating system is always up to date. Other options notify users when new updates are available to manually download, or have been downloaded and are ready to install.

In fact, Microsoft will move to full automation with Window 10, which will ship next month: The new OS will not let consumers pick and choose which updates they apply, but will only automatically download and install all of them.

Samsung's persistent changing of Windows Update's setting was accomplished by the executable tagged Disable_Windowsupdate.exe included with SW Update.

According to a transcript of an online chat with a Samsung technical support representative that Barker included in his blog, the company acknowledged it was monkeying with Windows Update, but said it was necessary to provide customers with the correct drivers for their systems.

"[What] we have is what the representative told me, which is that their SW Update software is used to consistently disable Windows Update so Windows Update doesn't install any drivers," said Barker in an email late yesterday where he answered follow-up questions posed by Computerworld. "They [said they] didn't want Windows Update installing drivers to conflict with their SW Update software when it came to installing drivers for the system."

It was unclear how long Samsung's Disable_Windowsupdate.exe had been changing Windows Update's settings, but there is evidence going back at least several months. In April, an owner of a Windows-powered Samsung tablet reported on Microsoft's support forum that Windows Update was not working after the device downloaded an update from SW Update that included the executable.

Samsung's spokesperson said owners of its hardware who had questions or concerns related to SW Update and the changes made to Windows Update could contact the company's customer support by telephone at 1-800-SAMSUNG.


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