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Windows X spam / GWX / KB 3035583

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Jul. 9th, 2015 | 12:14 pm

If you're running a recent Windows version, you probably got a tray icon/notification pestering you to install OS X Windows X. And if you're like me, you're probably thinking "never change a running system — I don't want this, not on this computer".

Unfortunately, this is an offer you can't refuse (though you're not outright being forced to accept it, just yet). In particular:

  • There is no way to say "no, I don't want this, stop bugging me".
  • There is no way to exit the program.
  • If you kill the program, e.g. in Task Manager, it'll be restarted automatically later on.
  • If you hide the tray icon/notification, it'll be unhidden after the next boot.

This is obviously annoying.

It turns out that the program responsible was installed by way of Windows Update. The update is KB 3035583; the English description is:

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).

Perfectly honest description that tells you exactly what it does, right? Descriptions in other languages are even less informative, BTW — you only get the generic "this update fixes problems in windows, you may have to restart your computer after installing it" language.

In any case, if you want to get rid of this notification for good, what you have to do is thus:

  1. Start Windows Update.
  2. Uninstall KB 3035583.
  3. In the list of available updates, right-click KB 3035583 and select "Hide Update".

That should be all that's needed.

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Comments {9}

ungulata

(no subject)

from: ungulata
date: Jul. 9th, 2015 11:55 am (UTC)
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It's things like this, things which run junk I don't want and things that break, that encourage me to _not_ install updates. Thus, I'm not getting "install Win X" notices. ^_^

Late last week Firefox was oh so kind as to block the Flash plugin so as to gently guide me to updating Shockwave. Hay, whose toy and software is this anyway? Apparently I'm just borrowing it from Mozilla. So I update, version 18.0.0.194. Then yesterday, news: versions 18.0.0.194 and earlier are vulnerable to hacking due to a widely leaked exploitable flaw. Oh thrill. I disabled Flash while I ponder the situation. Just now I checked my add-ons manager and lo! the %(&@! dratted new version just helps itself to updates and now suddenly I have version 18.0.0.203. Oh gee whiz, thanks wankers!

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Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Jul. 9th, 2015 01:29 pm (UTC)
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Flash is a pain in that regard, yeah. It asks whether you want automatic updates, but defaults to "yes", and keeps on doing so every time even if you previously said "no".

I can see the reason, of course. People who manually keep their plugins up-to-date, e.g. using Mozilla's plug-in check, are very likely in the minority, and an ecosystem where vulnerable (and often ancient) versions abound is bad for everyone. Automatic security updates are not entirely unlike large-scale vaccination programmes, perhaps.

But of course companies being companies, there's always the temptation of abusing the system for other purposes once it's in place, like Microsoft did here. Windows Update is supposed to be for security/reliability updates, nothing more; certainly not for advertising and spam, and especially not the kind that conceals itself and that's difficult[1] to get rid of once you got it.

Viewed from a distance, without involvement, it's an interesting exercise in trust, really. But of course when you're personally affected it's annoying.

1. Difficult as in "you won't easily know how", rather than "difficult to accomplish once you know how". I figured it out, but again, people like (and you) are very likely in the minority.

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ungulata

(no subject)

from: ungulata
date: Jul. 9th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC)
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If only the patches and updates were just true stable, cross-compatable bugfixes, I'd be keen to update. But that is not Nature. Nature coughs up half-broken innovations and all flavors of parasitism and predation. Thus do the deer walk in the hoof-prints of the preceding deer and pre-taste their browse with their noses, lest they swallow poison.

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Transitioning into liminal space

(no subject)

from: stormdog
date: Jul. 9th, 2015 05:34 pm (UTC)
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Yay!

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lupine52

(no subject)

from: lupine52
date: Jul. 9th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
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I call BS on the whole vulnerable stuff from flash, it wants to update so that Advertisements in side bars and stuff that are a part of Windows 2.0. can show up.

I have not nor plan to update Firefox from Version 23, I don't want to upgrade and get stuck in an upgrade circle

X - plugin doesn't work with this version, do you wish to upgrade?
Y - your browser is out of date, update it?
X - plugin doesn't work with this version -- (A plugin is not available for this version) -- go to authors site -- (plugin not updated due to lack of interest)


I have the same problems with Yahoo and security certs, apparently Yahoo is no lonnger secure and yet it works great... just without a bunch of ads bothering me.


... Fearing that M$ has set Windows X to play nice with Internet 2.0 sites I am not planning to install it till I am brought kicking and screaming from a noose that M$ places around the neck of the XP holdouts.

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Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Jul. 9th, 2015 08:19 pm (UTC)
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I'd be careful with not updating Flash (or Firefox, for that matter), though. Not all vulnerabilities are of practical concern, not right away, but that doesn't mean they're not real.

That said, yes, if you do update you'll likely have to accept new functionality (which might not necessarily benefit you) as the price for security updates.

Firefox does LTS (long-term support) releases that you may want to look into. You'll still eventually have to update even with these – they're supported for a little longer than usual, but not forever –, but they might help. As for Flash, if you're unwilling to update I'd ask myself if you need it at all. With HTML5 audio/video being available nowadays, e.g. on Youtube, I think the only real reason to still have Flash installed is so you can watch animations/play games on sites like Newgrounds, but even NG has HTML5 submissions these days. (That said they have a huge amount of older stuff done in Flash, of course, and that's not going to get converted.)

Additionally, if you're unwilling to update Flash and/or Firefox, make sure you've got control over what your browser is loading. Tools like Noscript, Adblock, RequestPolicy etc. can be useful in making sure you're not exposed to possible attack vectors such as ad networks in the first place.

That said I still recommend staying current WRT security updates.

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lupine52

(no subject)

from: lupine52
date: Jul. 9th, 2015 08:57 pm (UTC)
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I need flash still so I can continue to play my game that I been playing for over 5yrs daily, huzzah Alphabounce

But since flash has become more responsive over the years to play I have to use the cheat-engine program to slow the game down by a bit over a third to give myself a chance to advance. I am so afraid that flash will no longer be compatible with the program due to Adobe trying to fix any breaches which cheat engine obviously exploits so as to work so I don't upgrade... It would be too tough a pill to swallow if after 5plus years of dedication to the game that my fun is ruined due to Adobe getting all paranoid about vulnerabilities.

Cheat Engine may work fine with the newest Firefox and newest Adobe Flash and maybe I am the paranoid one but I have seen way too often updates that are just bloatwear and just don't want that.

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Mikazo

(no subject)

from: mikazo
date: Jul. 15th, 2015 01:23 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the heads up. I thought to recheck this post when it was time for another round of updates, and did see this one in the list.

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Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Jul. 15th, 2015 08:45 am (UTC)
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You're welcome! *tips hat*

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