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Downloading Microsoft Updates

by mike.searles / May 26, 2007 10:59 AM PDT

I know that everyone says to keep up-to-date on downloading any updates that Microsoft puts out. Many people choose the automatic update. I don't.

I'm hesitant about installing Microsoft updates. I did that on my last PC and an update fried my PC with spyware and I had to buy a new PC. Microsoft tried for over 5 hours to help me, but nothing worked.

I've tried installing updates individually and make sure I read about the update thoroughly before I installed it. However, this gets time consuming considering the number of updates that Microsoft releases.

Any ideas on a "safe" installation of Microsoft updates.


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First Things First...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / May 26, 2007 12:38 PM PDT

If you are truly at the Windows Update site, then you DID NOT receive "spyware" from their update. Occasionally updates cause issues with your computer but they aren't spyware.....unless of course, you consider their "Windows Genuine Advantage Notification" update spyware but that's another issue..

Basically, I install only the "Critical/High Priority Updates" that are listed after doing a "Custom" scan at the Windows Update site but I do install almost ALL of them.. (If you also have Microsoft Office installed, you can perform a similar update scan at the "Office Updates" site and it will update Office.) I DO NOT install the "Optional Software" and "Hardware" updates unless researching each update. (I NEVER install the 'Hardware" updates but instead visit the manufacturer's website should I need an updated driver.) Although they are not "spyware" as you have indicated, they can cause problems with your computer in some situations..

Unlike many users, I have some test machines where I can update both XP and Windows 2000 machines and see if there will be any problems..

For most users, there is normally a thread posted in the "Virus & Security Alerts" forum on the day of each "Patch Tuesday" which describes each of the updates. If there are problems with any of the updates, the various forum members tend to post back with those issues.. Waiting a day before updating and reading the information there can be a great help.

On the second Tuesday of every month, click on the link below and watch for the updates thread:

Hope this helps.


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Here's a nugget.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 26, 2007 12:45 PM PDT

Not long ago Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for XP. There were many howls as machines died all over. The problem has played out and in almost every case it was a pre-existing condition and a high percentage of the time the issue was "spyware."

Today this continues to be a big cause of Windows issues so my stance on spyware is "you don't want any."


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Safe Installation of Updates
by pmchefalo / June 2, 2007 4:35 AM PDT

Amelia, I generally try to wait a few days after the updates are released before I install them. (That is to say, I allow the updates to be downloaded but not installed automatically.) Then I look on C|Net to see who's slamming Microsoft, and see if their situations apply to my PC in termes of hardware or software.

I have had pretty good success, but will admit that I "killed" a Windows installation several months ago when I downloaded a "recommended hardware update." Apparently the Windows scanner was misconfigured and it permanently walloped the SATA driver on a Dell GX620. I was a little dubious when I saw the exact driver, but thought that maybe Dell used a different chip set for the IDE driver. Nope. The other GX620s on site never did show the recommendation so perhaps it was fixed by Microsoft, or perhaps there was a hiccough on the individual machine that day.

So, I'd recommend that you stick to the manufacturer's site for hardware drivers if you are not 150% sure that the Microsoft version of the update will not affect your PC.

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Manually review all updates and DECLINE any undesirable ones
by farhansyed / June 2, 2007 4:38 AM PDT

The most intelligent way to use Microsoft's "updating" service is to right-click on "My Computer", go to "Properties", click the "Automatic Updates" tab and select the choice for "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them". Then whenever new "security fixes" or "high priority updates" are available, a little yellow "shield" icon appears in the taskbar, and a "pointer bubble" asks you to click here to download the updates.

You can then choose which updates to download, and unselect/uncheck any "garbage updates" that you don't need and don't want. For example, I would recommend de-selecting Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications, update # KB905474. That so-called "high priority update" has absolutely NO advantage for the consumer, and leads to wasted CPU cycles at every login, even if your copy of Windows is validated as "genuine", and a whole bunch of "nag" messages and popups--wasting even more valuable memory and processor time--if for some reason your copy of Windows is flagged as "non-genuine". And of course the software often makes mistakes, erroneously flagging legitimate users as "pirates".

After declining any undesirable update(s), a message box will appear that says "Updates that are not selected will not be downloaded. Click here to hide those updates." Make sure to check the box, so you don't get offered the same unwanted update(s) again. (Please note that even if you hide Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications, update # KB905474, you will still be offered this "high priority update" every 90 days, when a new version of it is released.)

Hope that helps.

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good thread...
by toolbox20 / June 2, 2007 10:42 AM PDT

just curious, is there anyway to REMOVE patches/hotfixes once they've been installed?
I decided to finally go to SP2, and users are FORCED to install the "genuine advantage etc" crap in order to even GET to the SP2 installer. Typical Microsoft. Anyway to 86 it once its on there, or is it back to ye olde fdisk?

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Gen Advantage is nto causing any known issues.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 2, 2007 10:54 AM PDT
In reply to: good thread...

So besides those that feel it's intrusive in some way can you tell us what issue you have so we can tackle that?

If it's just that, then welcome to the new rules.


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Users are NOT required to install WGA Notifications.
by farhansyed / June 2, 2007 11:40 AM PDT
In reply to: good thread...

When you download Service Pack 2, or for users who installed Windows from a CD with Service Pack 2, you are asked to download a Windows Genuine Advantage Validation control, which is an Active X control. The Active X control is not a self-executing file, and is not loaded into memory except when you are accessing a Windows Update website, or trying to install certain "updates" that are restricted to "genuine" customers only.

Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications (KB905474) is an entirely separate program, which once installed is launched every time the computer starts up, as well as at each subsequent login. It continues running in the background, regardless of "genuine status", resulting in wasted memory and CPU cycles, even for legitimate owners. And of course it can and does happen that a legitimate copy of Windows fails to pass WGA validation for some reason, which would then result in a bunch of "nag" messages and popups. On a slow computer with not a lot of RAM, this can easily make the machine unusable.

You DON'T have to install this so-called "high priority update", and I'd STRONGLY recommend against it for the reasons above!

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by toolbox20 / June 2, 2007 12:04 PM PDT

...let me clarify. I DIDN'T use a CD to download SP2, and Windows Download Center doesn't (or no longer) has SP2 available as a direct download. I tried that right off the bat. Every time you follow a link to dl SP2, you get forwarded to a page that turns on the auto-installer, Windows Update, which then, in its majestic benevolence, offers to harvest available updates for you. The totally kick-*** part being that if you DON'T download and install the Genuine "Advantage," SP2 will NOT come down the pike. I know this because I went through this skullduggery 5 days ago. I'm still bitter about it. I'm glad we agree that you shouldn't have to install this update, and I am as strongly against it as you appear to be.

However, if I can bring it back around and get down to cases - is it or is it not possible to REMOVE this genuine disadvantage once it has already been installed?
Any and all feedback is well anticipated and appreciated.

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If you MUST install it, use "Remove WGA" to get rid of it.
by farhansyed / June 2, 2007 1:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Ok...

Though originally written by a website called, Microsoft served that website with a DMCA takedown notice, forcing them to remove the link. The software is still available on many shareware sites, such as Softpedia, at:

This is a very useful utility program, which TOTALLY and PERMANENTLY deletes the WGA Notifications from your computer, while leaving the Active X control intact to allow future update downloads.

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by toolbox20 / June 3, 2007 7:13 AM PDT

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!
Thanks for the excellent link to a useful utility!
I don't believe any legitimate user has any problem with validating their copy of Windows - in almost all cases it comes with the PC, and beyond that, I really can't think of ANY reason someone would intentionally try to pirate such a flawed OS unless they are just truly and shamelessly cheap (Linux IS gloriously free). That said, I think most people have a SERIOUS problem with MS putting thinly veiled spyware on their machine under the premise that it is "critical."

This utility is the best of both worlds - now that I've done the responsible thing in letting MS verify I have an authorized copy of their software, its time that they kindly left me alone.
Thanks for the advice sbill!

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Thanks. This is all excellent info that can help many people
by mike.searles / June 2, 2007 9:55 PM PDT

I appreciate all of the information you have provided. I do NOT use automatic update because I don't trust Microsoft ... who does? LOL!

I usually select the updates individually and then read about each one on the MS site. This does get time-consuming, but I think it's the best way to go and you have all confirmed this.

I think MS is wrong to label "Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications, update # KB905474" as a High Priority update, especially because of the problems and hassles it creates. It's one more thing to be aware and careful of when anyone looks at the updates on the MS site.

Thanks again. I'll continue to read this thread because you've all offered some great information. I appreciate it!!!


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Microsoft Updates

I'm a 'Power User', which I guess means that I've been using computers since 1968. Of course I do Alpha and Beta work for several companies. I have no problems with software updates from Microsoft, or even on my iMac for that matter. I do check the updates on both to make sure they won't interfere with the work I'm doing at the present time. But I can always install them at a later date by simply going to the Microsoft Update Site or the Apple site. Both are easy to check. I never do hardware updates from either, rather going to the manufacturers site as mentioned before. Inasmuch as I run Vista 32-bit and 64-bit on my desktop and 32-bit Vista on my laptop, with ability to use Office 2007, Exchange Server and so on on my desktop, all on a seperate hard drive from my primary hard drive, and am running Office 2004 on my Apple, I get updates quite often. You should make sure that Hardware updates will help your computer. Sometimes they won't but the manufacturer recommends them. If you download them, it's easy to take them off. Simply go to the Update section and look at installed updates. Take the ones off that are intefering by right-clicking on your mouse and hitting the delete section, generally located near the bottom of the information. As for the Windows Genuine Advantage, it is simply a method of determining if your copy of Windows is authentic. Those who don't like it and take it off their computers are doing themselves a great diservice. If the software is a fake, then they or you won't get the proper updates. Apple has this software but it's hidden, although easily found in the registry. But I will caution you about one thing: Never, and I mean Never, go into the registry unless you know what you are doing. I do, and I still am prone to slight mistakes (right clicking on the wrong value, deleting it for instance, then having to reinstall my software. No I'm not an idiot, just sometimes trying to do something so fast that I make a mistake. And when I do, it takes several hours to make up for that mistake. So don't do it unless you know how, and computer newbies generally don't know how to do that. Not to mention most, if not all, of your friends. and remember one thing, don't download software if you're not sure of it and never open anything that you don't know where it's coming from, even people you know. Viruses, Trojans and other types of malware are generally spread this way. That'ssomethng you, nor anyone else, don't want.

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