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10/29/2007
03:27 PM
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Microsoft Says Sorry (Again) For Unauthorized Installs

The glitch occurred when Microsoft updated the Windows Desktop Search tool for Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP 1+.

For the second time in as many months, Microsoft is apologizing for installing software on customers' desktops through an automated program without their authorization.

IT managers who subscribe to Microsoft's Windows Server Update Services program last week found that Microsoft had automatically installed the Windows Desktop Search tool on client PCs on their networks -- whether or not they had asked for it.

Microsoft is now apologizing for the foul up. "We sincerely regret the inconvenience this has caused and extend a sincere apology to all impacted customers," said WSUS program manager Bobbie Harder, in a blog posting.

Harder said the problem was the result of a glitch that occurred when Microsoft updated the Windows Desktop Search tool for Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP 1+.

"I want you to know we are working now to correct the issue and have temporarily suspended the distribution of the Windows Desktop Search through WSUS," said Harder.

To uninstall the Windows Desktop Search feature, Harder suggests:

  1. Clicking on "Add/remove programs,"

  2. Invoking spunisnts: %windir%\$NtUninstallKB917013$\spuninst\spuninst.exe /q /promptrestart

  3. Using System Restore on Windows XP (not available on Windows Server 2003).

The last option will leave some software on the machine, but the sequence pretty much removes WDS 3.01, Harding said. "This should only be used for conditions where the /noback switch was used," he added.

Last month, Microsoft conceded that its Windows Update program had been quietly installing software on users' PCs even when the utility had been turned off.

The installed software was intended to update the Windows Update program itself. Microsoft said it should have done a better job informing users about how the program works.

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