Temporarily turn off Windows Automatic Update

With a crop of non-security Office updates due today, a big dose of security patches expected in a week, and a known bug in the KB 4041686 Win7 Preview, now’s a good time to make sure you have Automatic Update set so it won’t deal you a nasty surprise.

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Peter Sayer/IDGNS

Last month we had no end of problems with Microsoft’s Windows and Office patches. If your machine was attached to a corporate Windows Update server and your admin approved Windows patches for immediate distribution, your PC may have joined a sea of blue screens. There were lots and lots of additional gotchas.

This month, we already know that KB 4041686, the 2017-10 Win7 Preview of a Monthly Rollup, has a retrograde bug in it that clobbers SFC scans. It’s not at all clear if Microsoft is going to fix that bug before the Preview becomes the for-real Monthly Rollup.

We also know that last Thursday's attempt to fix a bug introduced in the October security patches failed miserably, with Microsoft surreptitiously pulling KB 4052233, 4052234 and 4052235 and erasing them from the KB list, the catalog, and even the update histories. Heaven only knows if the next iteration of that abomination will succumb to a similar fate.

Later today, we should see a dozen or more non-security patches for Office. You don’t need any of them right away. A week from now, the security fixes should roll out. As I’ve argued many times before, it just makes sense to hold off installing Windows and Office updates until the major first-round bugs get shaken out. Let the unpaid beta testers sacrifice their machines first.

How to turn off Windows Automatic Update 

If your PC is attached to a Windows Update server, buy your admin a cup o’ coffee and gently make sure they don’t have WSUS or SCCM set to automatically approve updates as soon as Microsoft dishes them out.

If you’re running Windows 7 or 8.1, the method for blocking updates isn’t difficult. See AKB1000004: Disable Automatic Update in Vista, Win7 or 8.1 on the AskWoody site.

If you’re running Windows 10 Pro Creators Update (version 1703) or Fall Creators Update (1709), the method is even easier: telling Auto Update to back off just takes a couple of clicks. See Steps 7 and 8 in 8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro.

But if you have any other version of Windows 10, you aren’t so lucky. Windows 10 Home users and those with earlier versions of Pro are considered fair fodder for the unpaid beta-testing cannons. To protect yourself, follow the nostrums in Woody's Win10Tip: Block forced Windows updates.

Take a minute right now, and make sure Automatic Update is turned off. Then follow along here at Computerworld, or on your favorite Windows bug-reporting site, to see what the beta testers have to say. You need to update sooner or later, but you don't need to update on Microsoft's timeline.

I’ve set the MS-DEFCON level to 2 on AskWoody.com.

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