Microsoft appears to have finally unraveled the mystery surrounding a Windows Update snafu that caused several partners' and customers' PCs to behave like something out of a Stephen King novel.
Last week, several Microsoft customers and partners said their machines running Windows Server Update Service were downloading and installing an update package for Windows Desktop Search (WDS) and subsequently rebooting, even when users hadn't chosen the automatic update setting.
Microsoft first launched the WDS update in February, and configured that package to work only on machines with previous installations of WDS. But when Microsoft revised the update last week to work on machines that didn't already have WDS installed, the vendor mistakenly carried over the automatic update settings from the older version, according to Bobbie Harder, program manager for Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) group.
"We sincerely regret the inconvenience this has caused and extend a sincere apology to all impacted customers," Harder wrote in a blog post.
Harder said users can uninstall the faulty update revision in any of the following ways:
1. Add/remove programs
2. Invoking spunisnts: %windir%\$NtUninstallKB917013$\spuninst\spuninst.exe /q /promptrestart
3. Using System Restore on Windows XP (not available on Windows Server 2003). This option will leave some software on the machine, but the invocation effectively removes WDS 3.01. This should only be used for conditions where the /noback switch was used.
Microsoft plans to release a new WSUS package "in the near future," Harder said, but this one won't come in the form of an update revision, to ensure that Windows users can be able to enjoy what he described as "predictable update behavior" with automatic approval settings.
Late last week, members of the Microsoft's Windows OneCare product team suggested that the updating and rebooting issues could be happening because the security service is set up to automatically download and install important updates.