We all know that Microsoft can update Windows Vista and Windows XP at will if automatic updates are enabled. Did you know that Microsoft can also update your operating system even if you have disabled automatic updates? Most users would probably deny that this is possible but it turns out to be true.
Several researchers discovered that Microsoft was actually updating nine files in Windows Vista and Windows XP SP2 without user consent, with automatic updates turned off and without prompting the administrator of the system in any way.
The nine files in question are not the same and they seem to be part of the update mechanism itself.
It still raises the question if Microsoft should be allowed to update files on your system without asking for your permission.
While the updates this time did not seem to be critical or change functionality it could very well be that Microsoft decides to do so the next time. I'm thinking of DRM and anti-piracy measures for instance.
The changed files in Windows Vista are:
The ones in Windows XP are:
As you can see when you look at the file names, most -- if not all - seem to be Windows update related.
Update: It is not clear if the functionality is also present in newer versions of the Windows operating system. It is however very likely that this is the case considering that it can be used to resolve issues with the system's updating functionality.
Microsoft has not commented on the story yet and it is not clear how far reaching the control really is.
Additional information about it including tips on how to find out if the files on your system have been modified are available on the Windows Secrets website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.