When Security Isn’t

Windows Update is Microsoft’s mechanism for keeping Windows secure. Each month, they release a bunch of patches that plug newly-identified holes that they have found. But from time to time they sneak in updates that are not related to security. One famous example is when they introduce a new version of Internet Explorer (“The best browser… for downloading a better browser”). It is perfectly fine to introduce these under “Optional Updates”or even “Recommended Updates”, but to present them as “Important” is disingenuous at best.

But wait! There’s more!

In the middle of last year, users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 started getting pop-ups urging them to “reserve your copy of Windows 10”. This was so odd and unexpected that many suspected that it was some form of malware, particularly when you realize that Windows 7 is supported my Microsoft until 2020, and Windows 8 even later than that. Which begs the question: So why is Microsoft pushing a free upgrade on its users so hard? But that is another story for another time… here’s what you need to know: Windows Update KB3035583 is the “update” that makes this happen. . remove this update and prevent it from reinstalling if you don’t need Windows 10 (here a hint: you don’t). Also download and install GWX Control Panel to remove the gigabytes of disk space Microsoft has stolen for the Windows 10 upgrade files.

But it gets even better. One of the biggest objections to the “free” Windows 10 upgrade is that it trades away your privacy, but that was not enough for Microsoft. The data-gathering “telemetry” functionality in Windows 10 was subsequently retro-fitted into Windows 7 and 8.1 (See KB3068708, KB3022345, KB3075249, and KB3080149).

So… if are running Windows 7 or 8 and you don’t want Microsoft snooping around in your computer and gathering information about your activities, all you have to do is to remove these updates. The following text in a batch file (run as administrator) will remove the “telemetry” updates along with the Windows 10 update mechanism from your computer:

start /w wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:3075249 /quiet /norestart
start /w wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:3080149 /quiet /norestart
start /w wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:3021917  /quiet /norestart
start /w wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:3022345 /quiet /norestart
start /w wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:3068708 /quiet /norestart
start /w wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:3035583 /quiet /norestart
pause

Once that is done, you will have to go into Windows Update and “Hide” these updates so they don’t get “accidentally” reinstalled. If you are not sure, you can always re-run the batch file as a preemptive measure.

Microsoft: quit abusing “Windows Updates” as an underhanded mechanism to get us to install stuff that isn’t security-related.

 

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  • By Imperfect Ten | Wizard Prang's Blog on June 24, 2016 at 9:08 AM

    […] have written before about Microsoft pushing the Windows 10 upgrade on users of Windows 7 and 8.1. I also showed how to […]

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