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Do You Use Vista Or Does It Use You, Continued

Open the pod bay door, HAL. There are stories from a couple of sources about Windows Update automatically updating and rebooting users' systems even when they thought they'd disabled automatic updates. And Microsoft hasn't said anything much about why.
Open the pod bay door, HAL. There are stories from a couple of sources about Windows Update automatically updating and rebooting users' systems even when they thought they'd disabled automatic updates. And Microsoft hasn't said anything much about why.Scott Dunn writes in the "Windows Secrets" newsletter that "Microsoft updates Windows without users' consent." The updates in question affect Windows Update's own executables in both XP and Vista.

Mary Jo Foley, in her "All About Microsoft" blog on ZDNet, writes again today about a different problem: "The mystery continues: Why are Windows machines automatically updating themselves?"

The problem was first reported on AeroXperience. After last week's Patch Tuesday, Vista machines updated and rebooted themselves even though their nominal owners swear they were set to "Download updates but let me choose whether to install them."

Dunn found a kinda-sorta explanation from a Microsoftie on the Microsoft Communities boards. It seems, wrote "Dean-Dean," that the update was necessary so that Windows Update could find other updates: "Normal use of Windows Update, in other words, is blocked until this update is installed."

Foley reports that Microsoft is saying nothing about the Vista reboots, just asking for input from users who have experienced the problem.

The real question, of course, is how Microsoft's operating systems perform updates and reboots that are supposedly prohibited by their user's settings -- and why. There are good reasons for businesses and individuals to want to control changes to their OS installations. Microsoft needs to acknowledge them. Otherwise, we're left filling in the blanks with things like that classic exchange from 2001:

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL? HAL: Affirmative, Dave, I read you. Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay door, HAL. HAL: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that. Dave Bowman: What's the problem? HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do. Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL? HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.