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Kicking Windows Update to the curb. - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2007-09-15 21:49
  Subject:   Kicking Windows Update to the curb.
Public
  Music:Pennywise - Greed

After the WindoZe Genuine DisAdvantage debacle a few months back (WGA servers crashed; M$ forced admit that 12k computers worldwide were taken offline all day thanks to WGA) I don't trust M$ for a fucking second.

And now we get news that M$ is altering your Windows Update executable files in the dead of night EVEN IF YOU'VE EXPLICITLY TOLD WINDOWS UPDATE NOT TO INSTALL ANY PATCHES. So I flipped the WiFi switch on my laptop to "OFF" and booted it up. Checked the event log, and sure enough, August 30th, my copy of Windows Update has been silently changed to suit whatever whim of the moment MicroSoft had, without my knowledge or consent.

I'm no graphologist, but I don't like where this could be going. Not one bit.

I found a great article about what Windows Update files are being patched. Evidently 9 of them, mostly DLLs in C:\Windows\System32\. At this point I am perfectly willing to throw the baby out with the bath water, reboot into safe mode, and delete these files. (If I'm feeling especially paranoid, I might store encrypted copies somewhere just to be safe. But frankly, if I destroy Windows Update forever... no great loss.)

I was hoping, however, there was some legit mechanism to either A) back out the "dead of night" update that alters the Windows Update executables or B) uninstall Windows Update itself.

I found out that you can uninstall some individual Updates by using Add/Remove Programs (just check the little "show updates" checkbox at the top of the A/R Prog window). But of course there isn't an entry there for the dead of night update. I can't find an obvious place to uninstall Windows Update itself, and Google searches are not finding anything useful. Yes, yes, I know I can go set registry keys to "recommend" WU not download any updates. Not good enough - that's like telling your teenager not to go out late partying with their friends again. Only works if they didn't want to do it anyway.

So, anyone know of point-and-drool way to put a bullet in the head of Windows Update? Or should I just nuke the files and be done with it?
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2007-09-16 11:50 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Great... Since I've know how to, I've always set WU to notify my when updates are available, but to never dl them or install them unless I specifically tell it to.

I guess that feature's really just a placebo. Jeebus...


-J
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Jon
  User: j_b
  Date: 2007-09-16 13:53 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I don't know this for sure (so, per your specific request, this wouldn't be point-and-drool) but http://www.nliteos.com/ / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NLite are third party utils that allow chunks to be removed from Windows, that's the best starting point I know of
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Jon
  User: j_b
  Date: 2007-09-16 13:57 (UTC)
  Subject:   also
And if you need just 2k / XP , this may also be better http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html (similar project)
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2007-09-17 16:35 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: also
That looks good, I do see a checkbox to disable Windows Update about halfway down the right side of the page. But I wonder if they're just flipping the registry entry... that ain't good enough.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2007-09-18 05:24 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: also
Sure enough... only if you pay for the "Pro" (read: not intentionally crippled) version.

Guess I'll be booting to safe mode and moving DLLs!
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