PC rebooting? The cause may be MS OneCare

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

Installing Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s downloadable security suite, changes the settings of Automatic Updates without notifying users or honoring their update preferences.

This behavior may explain reports that Windows has beenmysteriously installing patches and rebooting itself, even though users had completely shut down the Automatic Updates function.

Users surprised by change to AU settings

I reported on Sept. 13 that Windows Update (WU) periodically installs a set of nine executable files without notice to users, even if Automatic Updates (AU) is set to “notify me but don’t automatically install.” On Sept. 27, I wrote that the executable files silently installed by AU starting in July prevent Windows XP from installing any security patches at all if XP was repaired using its original CD.

Many companies and individuals have a policy of carefully testing for negative side-effects in Microsoft patches before allowing them to be installed. It’s particularly surprising for these users, who’ve carefully configured their Windows machines to install patches manually, to find that their machines have been updated and rebooted anyway.

A blog named AeroXperience posted comments on Oct. 10 saying Windows Update was forcing such reboots. Users around the globe wrote in to the blog’s forum, saying their settings had mysteriously been switched to automatically install patches, and their PCs restarted at 3:00 a.m. (the default install time in the Automatic Updates control panel). Many commenters swore that they’d previously configured the control panel to prevent such installations.

AeroExperience blamed Windows Update for making the changes to users’ systems. ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley repeated the accusation on Oct. 12, adding fuel to the fire.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-10-25: