Is Microsoft Ninja Updating OSes?

The short answer is: yes, Microsoft is updating/changing software in a stealthy fashion.  Microsoft's own Nate Clinton has acknowledged that the Redmond juggernaut is indeed updating computers regardless of the preferences set by the user in the 'automatic updates' settings menu.

According to Nate, here's what's happening:

“So what is happening here?  Windows Update is a service that primarily delivers updates to Windows. To ensure on-going service reliability and operation, we must also update and enhance the Windows Update service itself, including its client side software.  These upgrades are important if we are to maintain the quality of the service.“

So they're updating the update service.  That makes sense, but leaves us with a few questions:

  1. Is the stealth update 'feature' limited in which files it can manipulate?  If not, this would seem to be an open door for hackers at the very least.
  2. Why aren't users given control over this?  It isn't as if Microsoft couldn't redirect users to get the new client if they update sporadically.  They already do this with people who install a fresh copy of XP and visit the Windows Update site.
  3. Is there any chance that Microsoft might use this to install unwanted software on PCs?

Are there any concerns you feel we've left out?  Does this ninja update seem like a good idea or a disaster waiting to happen?  What's your take?