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Samsung angers Microsoft by disabling Windows Update on some of its computers

Samsung angers Microsoft by disabling Windows Update on some of its computers


Samsung's gift to owners of its PCs: Disable_Windowsupdate.exe

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Mere months after Lenovo's Superfish adware debacle, Samsung has this week raised fresh concern about Windows vulnerabilities caused by PC manufacturers messing around behind the scenes. Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker has identified a small program titled Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, part of Samsung's SW Update tool, which does pretty much what its name suggests. The executable prevents Windows Update from automatically running in the background and forces users looking to get the latest software updates from Microsoft to do so manually.

Microsoft is, understandably, not pleased about this situation at all. Leaving Windows Update dormant is not recommended, because it serves as the delivery mechanism for critical system and security updates. A Microsoft spokesperson has made that point clear in a statement sent to VentureBeat:

"Windows Update remains a critical component of our security commitment to our customers. We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks. We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue."So why does Samsung feel the need to prevent Microsoft's security agent from keeping its PCs secure? Barker extended his investigation by reaching out to Samsung's support team and was told the following:

"When you enable Windows updates, it will install the Default Drivers for all the hardware [on the] laptop which may or may not work. For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates."In other words, Microsoft's default drivers might not work with Samsung's laptop components, so the company is preventing them from overwriting its own software by disabling Windows Update from running when the system starts. You can tell your Samsung PC to automatically download and install Windows Update patches, but every time you reboot it, the Disable_Windowsupdate.exe program will reset that to the manual setting of "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them." Samsung is thus prioritizing its own device drivers and SW Update over Microsoft's update tool.

Official comment from Samsung took over a day to arrive, however the Korean company has phrased its response narrowly and avoided addressing the chief cause of concern. A statement provided to The Verge and other publications states that:

"It is not true that we are blocking a Windows 8.1 operating system update on our computers. As part of our commitment to consumer satisfaction, we are providing our users with the option to choose if and when they want to update the Windows software on their products. We take product security very seriously and we encourage any Samsung customer with product questions or concerns to contact us directly."There have been no allegations of Samsung blocking any specific Windows 8.1 OS update, so the company appears to be refuting a strawman argument. The more important matter of Windows security — and the vulnerability inherent in not grabbing the latest security updates as soon as they become available — is instead painted as a matter of user choice.