It turns out that the sneaky update to Windows Update that we heard a lot of news about  two weeks ago is starting to cause a little havok.

The update, which installed it’s self on XP computers regardless of the state of Automatic Updates, delivered changes to several DLLs used in the updating process.  About the only way to avoid the update was to disable the Auto Update and BITS services, and disable access to updates via gpedit.msc.  That would only postpone the inevitable, as the next time you connected to Windows Update you would get that update anyways.

Many were upset as to the privacy aspects if this update, and the ability of Microsoft to remotely install software on your PC without your permission, or even your knowledge.  There is a bigger problem, one that is mentioned in the Slashdot article published today; it is possible for System Admins to believe that the update was not installed, and therefore would not be included in their troubleshooting process.  Any computer that has a repair install done will refuse to install the 80 some current Critical Updates, because these stealth DLLs will not be properly registered with the system.  It is not unthinkable that with no notification through TechNet, and no MSKB article, that a person could drive themselves completely bonkers trying to figure out why these updates will not install.  If that maddened Admin ends up going to the bar for a while out of of sheer frustration, and comes back after a few drinks only to find Windows Update happily running along after the secret update managed to install itself … well, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near that explosion.

Of course, regular readers of our forums would have no such problem
.  Back on September 12th, Sick Willie posted a handy link to a file he made using info in a MSKB article unrelated to this particular update, but which does allow you to manually register the DLLs that fail to register and cause the issue in the first place.  So, for PC Perspective members this issue was solved before most had even confirmed it existed.

“According to the site WindowsSecrets, the stealth Update that Microsoft released back in August isn’t quite as harmless as the company claims. The site’s research has shown that when users try to do a repair to XP subsequent to the update, bad things happen. ‘After using the repair option from an XP CD-ROM, Windows Update now downloads and installs the new 7.0.600.381 executable files. Some WU executables aren’t registered with the operating system, preventing Windows Update from working as intended. This, in turn, prevents Microsoft’s 80 latest patches from installing — even if the patches successfully downloaded to the PC.’ ZDNet’s Hardware 2.0 has independently confirmed that this update adversely affects repaired XP installations: ‘This issue highlights why it is vitally important that Microsoft doesn’t release undocumented updates on the sly. Even the best tested update can have unpleasant side-effects, but if patches are documented properly and released in such a way that users (especially IT professionals) know they exist, it offers a necessary starting point for troubleshooting.'”

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk