Samsung sneakily disables Windows Update on some PCs

The switch supposedly helps maintain driver compatibility, but raises security concerns in the process.


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Samsung has allegedly been disabling Windows Update on some computers, so as not to interfere with its own update tool.

The bad behavior was discovered by Patrick Barker, a Microsoft MVP who was researching the issue for another user. While analyzing the user’s system registry, Barker found that installing Samsung’s SW Update tool forced Windows Update to stop working. Attempting to re-enable Windows Update didn’t help, as Samsung’s software would simply disable the Microsoft update tool again upon rebooting.

A Samsung support representative apparently confirmed the activity to Barker, noting that Windows Update installs default drivers that may not work with Samsung’s computers. “For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates,” the representative said.

Keep in mind that SW Update isn’t installed on Samsung PCs by default—it’s available as a download from Samsung’s website for computers running Windows XP and higher—and it’s unclear how many computers are affected. But as VentureBeat points out, other users have complained of this issue before . Only now is the exact cause becoming clear.

We’ve reached out to Samsung for comment, but have yet to hear back. In the meantime, Barker is encouraging users to report SW Update as malware.

Update: Samsung has responded with the following statement, stating that its software indeed alters Windows Update settings on PCs: 

“It is not true that we are blocking a Windows 8.1 operating system update on our computers. As part of our commitment to consumer satisfaction, we are providing our users with the option to choose if and when they want to update the Windows software on their products.

We take product security very seriously and we encourage any Samsung customer with product questions or concerns to contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG.”

Additionally Microsoft provided the following comment to VentureBeat: “Windows Update remains a critical component of our security commitment to our customers. We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks. We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue."

Why this matters: Windows Update is a crucial piece of software, handling not just feature updates but the latest security patches from Microsoft. If Samsung has no way to maintain driver compatibility without disabling those updates, that’s a major issue. We can only hope it’s not widespread, and that Samsung has a plan B for affected devices.

Editor's note: This article originally published on June 24, 2015, but was updated June 25 with Samsung's statement.

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