Microsoft stirs suspicions by adding telemetry spyware to security-only update

Under Microsoft’s rules, what it calls “Security-only updates” are supposed to include, well, only security updates, not quality fixes or diagnostic tools. Nearly three years ago, Microsoft split its monthly update packages for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 into two distinct offerings: a monthly rollup of updates and fixes and, for those who are want only those patches that are absolutely essential, a Security-only update package.

What was surprising about this month’s Security-only update, formally titled the “July 9, 2019—KB4507456 (Security-only update),” is that it bundled the Compatibility Appraiser, KB2952664, which is designed to identify issues that could prevent a Windows 7 PC from updating to Windows 10.

Among the fierce corps of Windows Update skeptics, the Compatibility Appraiser tool is to be shunned aggressively. The concern is that these components are being used to prepare for another round of forced updates or to spy on individual PCs. The word telemetry appears in at least one file, and for some observers it’s a short step from seemingly innocuous data collection to outright spyware.

My longtime colleague and erstwhile co-author, Woody Leonhard, noted earlier today that Microsoft appeared to be “surreptitiously adding telemetry functionality” to the latest update:

With the July 2019-07 Security Only Quality Update KB4507456, Microsoft has slipped this functionality into a security-only patch without any warning, thus adding the “Compatibility Appraiser” and its scheduled tasks (telemetry) to the update. The package details for KB4507456 say it replaces KB2952664 (among other updates).

Come on Microsoft. This is not a security-only update. How do you justify this sneaky behavior? Where is the transparency now.

I had the same question, so I spent the afternoon poking through update files and security bulletins and trying to get an on-the-record response from Microsoft. I got a terse “no comment” from Redmond.

Source: Microsoft stirs suspicions by adding telemetry files to security-only update | ZDNet

Once installed, a new scheduled task is added to the system under Microsoft > Windows > Application Experience