Microsoft released new versions of KB2952664 and KB2976978 for Windows 7 and 8.1 on July 11, 2018, something that the company does several times a year. We reviewed previous updates released in February 2017 and October 2016.
MS PowerUser reports that Microsoft changed the level of both patches to critical. The updates were optional or rated as important in the past, and Windows users and administrators could not get rid of these updates permanently.
While it is possible to hide the updates, any re-release by Microsoft would bring them up again in Windows Update and other update management systems.
Microsoft pushed Telemetry a lot in its products in recent years. The company tries to gather usage data to help prioritize development and react to issues and bugs more quickly.
While those are certainly important goals for Microsoft, it is clear that many users don't want anything of that; they paid for the operating system and don't want data about their usage collected and transferred to Microsoft; especially so if the chance exists that it could leak private information.
Microsoft burned a lot of bridges in the past when it included the Get Windows 10 application with updates and made the Telemetry updates prerequisites for it.
It is my personal opinion that Microsoft is not very good at communication when it comes to these things, and that the company would not face as much criticism if it would provide clearer and all-cards-on-the-table information about what it collects, why it collects the data, and what it does with the data.
Microsoft added options to recent versions of Windows 10 that gives users access to the Telemetry data that the company collects, and options to control Telemetry collecting. While Microsoft refuses to integrate a simple off switch even on Windows 10, it is at least possible to limit what Microsoft collects.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users and admins are in a slightly different boat. The operating system don't include Telemetry collecting natively, but will collect data if users opt-in to the User Experience Program.
Users don't have any say in the matter when they join though; there is no option to view the collected data, delete it, or limit it.
Title: Compatibility update for keeping Windows up-to-date in Windows 7
Compatibility update for keeping Windows up-to-date in Windows 8.1
This update performs diagnostics on the Windows systems that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program. The diagnostics evaluate the compatibility status of the Windows ecosystem, and help Microsoft to ensure application and device compatibility for all updates to Windows. There is no GWX or upgrade functionality contained in this update.
Microsoft notes that Telemetry is only collected if users participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program; that would mean, on the other hand, that the updates are useless if users did not opt-in to the program.
Born notes that the Telemetry updates did cause issues such as boot issues, error codes during installation, or freezes. He recommends that users hide the updates and don't install them and that is in my opinion the best option as well.
I don't think that Microsoft will get it right any time soon. Pushing Telemetry updates as critical updates will certainly install them on more user systems, but whether that is a good idea or note is up for debate.
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