Microsoft re-re-re-issues controversial Windows 10 patch KB 3035583

Against a backdrop of increasing concern for Microsoft's patching ways, the re-appearance of KB 3035583 does not inspire confidence

When Microsoft first released KB 3035583 on March 27, I was mystified. I couldn't figure out why Microsoft was releasing an optional patch entitled "Update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1" and describing it with only a brief blurb:

This update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications when new updates are available to the user. It applies to a computer that is running Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

That's the entire explanation we've received from Microsoft to date.

On April 3, the patch reappeared, this time marked "Important" on Windows 8.1 PCs, and "Optional" on Windows 7 PCs. As an important update, it was pushed onto all Windows 8.1 machines with Automatic Update installed.

There's been a lot of analysis of that patch. In my April 6 article, I came to the conclusion:

Is the patch an unwanted intrusion or just a convenient way to let Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users upgrade to the (free) Windows 10? I guess that depends on your point of view. But it sure would've been nice if Microsoft had simply told us the truth, instead of sneaking another controversial come-on into its patch list.

Ed Bott posted a very thorough analysis of KB 3035583 in his ZDNet report, "Get Windows 10: Microsoft's hidden roadmap for the biggest software upgrade in history." Bott has a less-conspiratorial take on the evidence:

I have a hard time seeing this as adware. It is, instead, perfectly targeted advertising, offering a free upgrade to a product currently running on the system where the ad is being displayed. There are no hidden costs (aside from those incurred by the download itself) and the upgrade isn't going to be installed without your explicit consent. It can't, because there's at least one license agreement (and probably several) you're going to have to click through.

All of which is undoubtedly true.

On May 14, Microsoft released KB 3035583 yet again. The KB article doesn't mention any changes, and we really don't have a clue what was changed or why. The official Windows Update list KB 894199 says it's a "Recommended" update, which "supersedes KB 3035583 on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7." (Heaven only knows what that means.) My Windows 8.1 PCs list it as important, and checked for Automatic Update. My Windows 7 PCs list it as optional, and it's unchecked.

Whether you think of KB 3035583 as a potentially unwanted nagware program or perfectly targeted advertising, I think you'd agree that Microsoft's transparency doesn't inspire confidence.

Do you trust your PC to Microsoft's updaters?

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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