Microsoft plans 10 fake 'updates' for Windows 7

Phony fixes will automatically install in test of Windows Update

Microsoft plans to test Windows 7's update mechanism by feeding users of the just-issued Release Candidate as many as 10 fake updates in the coming week, the company said Friday.

It will be the second time that Microsoft has released phony updates for Windows 7; in February, it tested the beta by delivering five bogus patches.

People running Windows 7 RC, which publicly debuted late on May 4, will be offered the mock updates beginning on Tuesday, May 12, said Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft spokesman. Microsoft wants to "verify our ability to deliver and manage updating of Windows 7 in certain real-life scenarios," LeBlanc explained in a blog post Friday evening.

As before, the updates do not actually deliver any new features or fixes, but replace existing system files with exact duplicates.

Unlike the February test, however, this time many of the updates will install automatically, according to a second blog entry on the Microsoft Update site. One of the updates will also test a new notification feature, said the update blog. "[It] provides detailed information about available updates that need to be installed manually," Microsoft said. "Windows 7 RC users will be prompted to install this update and provided more information about this feature -- it will not install automatically."

Users will also need to go to Windows Update and manually install the updates that don't install automatically, the update team added.

To decline the test updates, users must set the Windows Update control panel to something other than the recommended "Install updates automatically," then right-click each fake update that appears and select "Hide update" to delete it from the list.

Microsoft has already released one legitimate update for Windows 7 RC. On Thursday, the company pushed a patch for a major bug that had slipped through testing. If left unfixed, the bug can cripple applications or block them installing properly, Microsoft said in a support document.

The fix was delivered through Windows Update starting Thursday. Computers running Windows 7 RC that have Automatic Updates set download and install patches should have already received and installed the bug fix.

Microsoft publicly launched Windows 7 RC last week, several days after it posted the preview on MSDN and TechNet, the company's developer and professional IT subscription services.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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