Samsung and the Windows Update scandal

04 Nov, 2015

Last February, Lenovo got a foul by the public when they realized that the company had a preinstalled malware on its computers and an incredible communication fiasco followed. After that, one would expect that all the manufacturers – not only those who built PCs – would re-examine their products concerning equivalent tactics and strategies. Because, what company would want to find itself in Lenovo’s shoes, which lost a great percentage of trust from its consumers after all that was done?

And then, there comes Samsung, to consider that it can interfere with the consumers’ computers (the ones that the company sells to the public) with such a drastic way as well as invisible to the user’s eyes, putting the whole computer in great danger (and for reasons that only the Korean company is truly aware of).

The whole scandal was revealed almost a week ago, and it ended up with Samsung’s “compromise”. Here is exactly how things went. During a conversation between a programmer – who was cognizant of Microsoft’s technologies – and a consumer that uses a computer manufactured be the Korean company, the first one located a problem on how the computer handled the updates from the operating system’s program (Windows Update). A further research revealed and conversation with a Samsung’s technical support employer showed something truly unbelievable: a software of Samsung which is preinstalled on many of the company’s PCs (those that are sold), takes over the update of the drivers and deactivates them on purpose without the user being aware! In other words, the software prevents Windows Update from working appropriately.

In case the user finds out the problem and activates Microsoft’s Windows Update, the next time the computer is turned on, a program called “Disable_Windowsupdate.exe” – which was installed without the user knowing in the first place – deactivates again the Windows Update.

As one would expect, a lot of fuss was created and not for nothing. First, Samsung (as always) claimed officially that it had nothing to do with this problem and that the company’s software created no problems on the drivers’ updates. Once Samsung’s statement was proved false, the company supported that in many laptops the Windows Update, “finds” older versions of drivers for their subsystems and by installing those, it also created malfunctions. So the Korean colossus simply decided to deactivate completely the Windows Update so it doesn’t create those issues. 24 hours later – and after the situation was already out of control – Samsung confirmed that very soon it would provide an update on its own software so that it wouldn’t take such initiatives. Until then, the only way the users can activate again the Windows Update, is by deleting Samsung’s preinstalled software.

Samsung created a problem for all its PC consumers and the truth is that the same company has made many more mistakes in the past. So, in order to avoid similar unwanted situations in the future, all companies that produce such products should make sure that they respect the consumers’ rights in privacy. Otherwise, consumers all around the world will start changing their personal preferences and switch to manufacturers that respect them, leaving all the other companies in a very difficult position since they will lose a very large source of income. Simple as that.