Microsoft slates mock Windows 7 updates

Plans to test Windows Update on the new OS with 5 fake updates next week

Microsoft will test Windows 7 beta's update mechanism this week by feeding users as many as five fake updates, the company said last week.

People running the public beta of Windows 7 will be offered the mock updates beginning on Tuesday, February 24, said Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft spokesman. Microsoft wants to test the Windows Update service's ability to offer, download and install updates to the new operating system.

"These updates do not deliver new features or bug fixes," LeBlanc said in an entry to the company's official Windows 7 blog. "The test updates simply replace system files with the same version of the file currently on the system."

Up to five different test updates will be offered, he added, but unlike real updates, they will not be automatically downloaded and installed, even if the user has turned on Windows 7's Automatic Updates feature. "Users will need to manually install the test updates through Windows Update," LeBlanc said.

The Microsoft team responsible for Windows Update explained in more detail what users will see when the test kicks off next week. "Users will be notified of available updates, but they won't install automatically," the group said on its own blog. "Users will need to go to the Windows Update control panel and manually start installation. If you don't want to install the updates then you can right click on each update and select 'Hide update' to prevent it from being shown."

Microsoft launched the public beta of Windows 7 on January 10, a day later than scheduled because it had problems handling the crush of users rushing to get the preview, which the company planned to limit to the first 2.5 million testers. Later, however, Microsoft backtracked from that idea, and in fact extended the download deadline to February 12.

The next Windows 7 preview for public consumption will be a "release candidate," which Microsoft has talked up but not yet slated for delivery.

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Gregg Keizer

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