Run Silent, Run Deep?

September 24, 2007

The discovery earlier this month that Microsoft was making silent updates to Windows via the Windows Update or Microsoft Update services, even if the service had been configured to notify before installing, is disturbing.

Because the Web-based update services from Microsoft and other vendors is so handy, it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. I urge all my clients to consider a deeper issue.

These computers are ours, bought and paid for. They run our businesses. They are not just ornaments but are critical to our business operations. What happens if our businesses are interrupted due to a flaw in software delivered by an update service?

No software company, including Microsoft, assumes any liability for lost business or lost productivity due to the failure of its products. That's true for the software out of the box and it's true for updates delivered by these automatic services. Instead, we assume responsibility for selecting software that we believe will meet our needs and we assume responsibility for operating it in a manner consistent with our needs.

That's why the notify before installing option of any update service is so important. We cannot assume responsibility for our business if we cannot determine what is happening in our business, and this means we have to have some sense of how a software update service might affect us. A silent update goes very much against this grain.

I urge all my clients to contact Microsoft to complain about silent updates. This is one case, a critical case, where customer activism is essential. I'm a big fan of written letters in matters like this because they "weigh" more than quick emails.

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399

Tags: Operating Systems, Windows

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