Microsoft warns of another update to Windows Update

For the second time in three months, Microsoft Corp. Friday again warned it would upgrade Windows Update, the service most users rely on to download patches and other fixes.

"Over the next couple of months we'll be rolling out another infrastructure update to the Windows Update agent (client code)," said an unidentified Microsoft employee on the Windows Update team's official blog. "This update makes it possible for users to install more than 80 updates at the same time."

According to a support document published Thursday, Windows Update Agent 7.2.6001.788 fixes a bug that produced an error when users tried to install 80 or more updates using either the Windows Update or Microsoft Update services.

Microsoft last told users of an impending update for Windows Update in July, when it announced an upgrade designed to improve scanning performance. The Windows Update (WU) process involves scanning the target PC to see if it requires any of the just-made-available patches.

Friday's announcement and the one in July were in stark contrast to what happened last year, when users raised a furor after discovering that Microsoft had updated the WU client even when they had disabled the operating system's automatic installation option.

Microsoft's response at the time was that it had engaged in the practice before and that the client-side software needed to be updated -- no matter what the user settings -- in order to guarantee receipt of future security patches.

The company continued that practice this summer and will again in the coming months; the current WU client will automatically download and install the new update independent of how the software's set to handle other patches and fixes. The only way that users can prevent the WU client from updating is to turn it to the "off" option, which is labeled "Turn off Automatic Updates" in Windows XP and "Never check for updates" in Vista.

The new Windows Update client will be downloaded and installed to machines running Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003 and Server 2008. It can also be downloaded manually from the Microsoft Web site.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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