Make sure Windows Update is temporarily disabled, particularly on Win7

With Patch Tuesday arriving, take a moment to make sure Auto Update is turned off. Reports of Win7 users getting pushed to Win10 (again) make the check even more imperative.

patch on top of Windows logo
Thinkstock/Microsoft

June 2018 was a relatively innocuous patching month, but even amidst the mediocrity there were a handful of persistent problems. We’ve seen the same pattern repeat  almost every month since the beginning of the year: The first round of Microsoft security patches (notably including Windows 10 patches) introduces bugs, while the second round of patches each month squashes most of them.

It follows, as night unto day, that you’d be well advised to wait out the first onslaught and see if the second round of patches fixes problems introduced by the first.

This month, we have a couple of notable events that should make you more resolute than ever.

First, there are persistent reports (e.g., on Reddit here and here) that some Windows 7 customers are seeing messages bent on convincing them to upgrade to Windows 10. Of course, we fought that battle long ago – and it was a dirty fight. Judging by the usage share statistics, Microsoft may have won the battle but certainly didn’t win the war.

It isn’t clear to me under what circumstances the prompts appear – it’s possible that installing the old KB 3184143 may get rid of them entirely. But there’s no reason to hang a sign on your machine that says, “Kick me.” Get Windows Update turned off. Thanks to @zero2dash and @EP.

Second, Mayank Parmar at Windows Latest received confirmation from Dell that  Microsoft is now pushing Win10 version 1803 on the Alienware laptops that previously had the upgrade blocked.  Of course, Microsoft’s own documentation doesn’t mention anything, but Alienware tweets that it’s so.

Yes, this is the same Windows 10 April 2018 Update that was declared ready for prime time back on June 14. Somehow it wasn’t ready for an entire product line from one major manufacturer until late last week.

Anyway, if you wish to put your machine in the cannon fodder category, you needn’t lift a finger. On the other hand, if you’d rather sit on the sidelines for a couple of weeks to see what happens, the method for blocking Windows Update is pretty straightforward.

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, click Start > Control Panel > System and Security. Under Windows Update, click the "Turn automatic updating on or off" link. Click the "Change Settings" link on the left. Verify that you have Important Updates set to "Never check for updates (not recommended)" and click OK.

If you’re using Windows 10 Pro version 1703, or Pro 1709, and Microsoft doesn’t change its mind again, you can use Windows’ built-in tools to hold off on the looming patches – just follow Steps 7 and 8 in 8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro. Other Windows 10 users, including all Win10 Home owners, aren’t quite so lucky, but the general “metered connection” approach is detailed in Woody's Win10Tip: Block forced Windows updates.

To keep your machine on 1703 or 1709 – and avoid 1803 for now – follow the detailed steps in How to block the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, version 1803, from installing. Yes, Microsoft has ignored those settings on some machines, but using all of the tricks – even setting Pro machines to metered connection – seems to block the forced march.

If you’re on Win10 version 1803, you might want to consider just letting the patches roll all over you. Remember the final scene in Sons of Anarchy? It’s not clear, to me, whether 1803 machines will be any the worse this month if they’re exposed directly to the Microsoft Patching Juggernaut.

We’re at MS-DEFCON 2 on the AskWoody Lounge.

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