Bing Desktop won't be automatically installed

Ian Bell over at Digital Trends caught my attention when he repeatedly claimed that some users who have Windows Update configured a certain way would get Bing Desktop automatically.

The article in question is a review of Bing Desktop - which is basically an application which places a search box on your desktop, along with the Bing image of the day as your wallpaper. Straight forward enough right, they take some pot shots at it - they're a pretty anti-Microsoft website. The author of the article however accurately stated that it is an "optional" update.

Digital Trends CEO, however commented several times on the article:

It's not optional for everyone. There is an option to have Windows automatically add ALL updates when they are available. Its the first thing Windows asked on a new computer. So some people are getting it installed whether they really want it or not.

The problem I have with this is how Microsoft is pushing it to users. Some people have Windows setup to automatically install ALL updates. Well, this isn't an update, its a new feature and it shouldn't be pushed to consumer desktops through this manner. Shame on Microsoft for getting desperate here.

Oh, and cant wait for some press release to come out next month saying that Bing has grown 2000% in the last month (since this update was pushed).

Nice.

And dead wrong. The guy lacks even the most basic understanding of how Windows Update works. Yet loudly proclaims his misconceptions as fact to further push his bias agenda.

Windows Update breaks updates into three categories.

Important - security fixes.
Recommended - bug fixes, updates to .NET Framework, etc.
Optional - extra things like language packs, Bing Desktop, updates to Zune, Windows Live Essentials and device drivers etc.

There are several settings which control how updates are installed and if they're installed automatically.

Windows Update settings

Microsoft, wisely recommend that important updates are installed automatically. You can also, if you opt-in, tell it to install recommended updates automatically. Considering this is usually for bug fixes in Windows, and to update various optional components of Windows, this is usually a good idea.

There's also the option, again opt-in, for getting updates from Microsoft Update. If checked this allows other Microsoft software like Office, Zune, Windows Live Essentials and Bing Desktop in this case to use/appear on Windows Update to get their own updates seamlessly too or present themselves to end-users.

Under no circumstances are these optional updates ever installed automatically, nor is there any setting which in the slightest implies they are. The FAQ in Help and Support clearly states this:

You can set Windows to automatically install important and recommended updates, or to install important updates only. Important updates provide significant benefits, such as improved security and reliability. Recommended updates can address non-critical problems and help enhance your computing experience. Optional updates are not downloaded or installed automatically. For more information, see Turn automatic updating on or off and Change how Windows installs or notifies you about updates.

Quite clear. No Windows user will wake up one morning and have Bing Desktop sneakily installed on their computer, you need to make at least seven mouse clicks to tell Windows to download it, not counting the clicks required to finish installing it.

So pack it in with the baseless anti-Microsoft rhetoric.

6 comments

Comment from: BillB [Visitor]
BillB

Okay, so Digital Trends are going a little overboard. But this *is* a move by MS that smacks of a desperation to steal a few points in Search market share from Google.

I daresay only a very small percentage of users would say yes if asked flat out, "Would you like a Bing search bar in the middle of your desktop?". Basically, the same percentage of users already using Bing instead of Google for search. I.e., not many.

As a knowledgeable and not-at-all anti-MS user, I was able to avoid this update without any trouble. But I don't appreciate feeling like I have to carefully police my updates just to avoid unnecessary crap.

05/01/12 @ 14:51
Comment from: Lexx [Visitor]
2 stars
Lexx

I agree with the detailed analysis, but I believe another relevant aspect of the Bing Desktop update has been missed. Normally, Windows update allows AND HONOURS the ability to hide updates. With this Bing Desktop update, however, while you're allowed to select "Hide Update", it reverts to a visible optional update on the next Windows Update cycle i.e. it does not honour the hide setting.

That's not Chaotic Evil, but it's also pretty far away from Lawful Good -- at best it's Chaotic Neutral.

05/03/12 @ 18:39
Comment from: Justin [Visitor]
1 stars
Justin

It's a moot point either way. Windows update is meant to deliver updates not MS branded software as it has expanded to include under the "optional" header. Microsoft needs to decide if they want an app store or an update system and make a practical decision to keep them separate. Throwing your hands in the air and saying "well it is optional" is naive. Technically .NET is optional. The point is when I pay for an OS for my business I expect support for that product not a never ending up-sell via update. Offering the "Bing Bar" as an update to Windows Home users I could maybe see as acceptable. But pushing it out to Pro is frankly silly. Really what IT Admin worth their salt leaves the home page and default search engine set to Bing, or even IE as the default web browser for that mater? Yes thankfully bing bar is not installed automatically. Perhaps Microsoft learned something from the fiasco auto installing IE9 caused for businesses. Obviously they haven't learned quite enough yet.

05/08/12 @ 15:10
Comment from: Shawn Adams [Visitor]
3 stars
Shawn Adams

Very true, but I was thinking that maybe you could tell me why "Office Live" is now listed under "Important"?

Last time I checked it didn't add anything anyone really needed, and certainly nothing that should make it show up in the "Important" category if it isn't already installed.

12/13/12 @ 15:32
Comment from: Jason [Visitor]
1 stars
Jason

Bing Desktop got pushed to my system today without my permission. I'm not 100% sure what did it but it was pushed. I'm suspicious that Security Essentials is what pushed it - updates did not because I have them set to download only and not install because I ALWAYS review what is installed before I do it.

12/17/12 @ 17:15
Comment from: LarryF [Visitor]
LarryF

I agree with the naysayers. "Bing" anything shouldn't be in the Windows updates at all. The updates are supposed to deliver updates and add-ons that make the computer more secure and improve functionality. It's not supposed to be another forum for MS to push unneeded foistware on consumers. To that end, it doesn't matter that it's in the "optional" area. It shouldn't be on the list at all.

Plus, Bing Desktop has that aggravating habit of unhiding itself when you check for updates, which makes me feel mildly homicidal every time it happens. When I tell my computer to hide an unwanted update, I expect it to stay hidden.

It's much the same with Windows Live and Security Essentials. Those are much better offerings... but they aren't updates, and shouldn't be in the update lists. MS has been dragged to court before for foisting programs on people. You'd think they'd have gotten the message.

04/30/13 @ 14:38