Does Microsoft Change My Automatic Updates Settings?


Jerry Bryant

Group Manager, Response Communications

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As a follow on to the WGA and Security Updates post by Dustin Childs, I wanted to address another common question we get regarding both security and non-security updates that customers receive from Microsoft through Windows Update or Microsoft Update. Customers sometimes feel that somehow the settings they chose in the update console have been changed. Most commonly, customers who have set the client to notify them before installing updates are now getting updates automatically without prompting.

Before I go into details, I want to take a second to describe the differences between Windows Update (WU), Microsoft Update (MU) and Automatic Updates (AU). Windows Update was first developed to provide updates for Windows operating systems. Later, we introduced Microsoft Update to add the ability to offer updates for other Microsoft products such as Office and Windows Live. Automatic Updates is a feature that allows you to configure your computer to automatically download and install updates from either service. For more information, please see the Windows Update FAQ.

So, does Microsoft change your Automatic Update settings? No. Your settings are not changed by Microsoft unless you consent to do so.

The Windows Update team has seen this question several times and has blogged about it in the past. The team identified the following scenarios where your AU settings can be changed. Note that all of them require some action from you:

  • During the installation of Windows Vista or Windows 7, you could choose one of the first two recommended options in the “Out of Box Experience” and elect to get updates automatically from Windows.
  • You could go to Windows Update in Control Panel and change the AU settings manually.
  • You could go to Security Center in Windows Vista or the Action Center in Windows 7 and change the AU setting.
  • You could choose to opt in to Microsoft Update from the Microsoft Update Web site.
  • You could choose to opt in to Microsoft Update during the installation or the first-run experience of another Microsoft application such as Office 2007.

In addition, third-party products may change AU settings when installed, though this not a common practice. In some cases malware may attempt to change settings or block WU/MU entirely.

We always recommend that you configure your systems to receive Automatic Updates to ensure that you have the latest security and reliability updates for your Microsoft software. If you believe that your settings have changed without your consent or possibly due to malware on the system, please contact the Microsoft Customer Service & Support team for assistance.


Jerry Bryant

*Postings are provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights.*