Windows Updates costs Donna her job?

By | November 19, 2011
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Donna says: “I lost my job because of Windows 7 Update…”
I lost my job because of Windows 7 Update! I work from home in a virtual call center. After 3 years of trying to find a job as an employee and not a contractor (contractors put in lots of hours that we don’t get paid for, unlike employees) I found a job. I was in my second week of training when I tried to log in first thing in the morning & I couldn’t get into our classroom chat in Adobe Connect. It took me 3 hours to find out why, which was one hour beyond the permissible time limit and I was asked to resign (aka fired). Now let me tell you why – there is a “quirk” (to put it politely) in the Windows Update system that people don’t know and they should if their computers are important in their lives. If you have your Windows Update set, as I did, to search for updates but NOT to download them but instead notify you and let YOU decide what you want to download and when – it won’t matter! Here’s what it says from the Windows Update Privacy Setting website:

“If you turn on the Update Services, regardless of which “turned on” setting you have chosen, required updates to some components of the service will be downloaded and installed automatically without further notice to you. If you would prefer not to receive required updates, turn off the Update Services.”

So approximately one hour prior to me logging in, my computer was updated without my permission or knowledge. A little box called “check for server certificate revocation” in IE – Tools – Internet Options – Advanced – Security got checked when I had it unchecked. This prevented me from being able to log into Adobe Connect, our classroom, causing me to lose my job.

The morale to the story – guys – if your computer is the source of your financial security (aka you work from home or even your work computer) DO NOT SET WINDOWS UPDATE TO EVER EVER EVER UPDATE AUTOMATICALLY! I have changed the settings on all 6 of our computers now to “Never check for updates” which it says is not recommended and I don’t care. I will manually check for updates on my own and select which ones I want to download and when. I feel betrayed by Microsoft and now have to look for another job. This last one took me 3 years to find. Wish me luck!

Our Answer
First of all, we wish you all the best – and good luck. We know how tough times are – we struggle through each week. We can imagine your frustration at having found a job and then lost it and having to start all over again. It seems to us than an employer who wouldn’t listen to your valid reason for not being able to work one day probably isn’t one you want to be working for anyway. It seems you had made every effort to do your job and because of things beyond your control you were fired? What if you lost your Internet connection for a few hours? Both of us use very reliable Internet providers and we have high-speed access to the Internet. But we’ve had times when we were unable to get online for hours – and in one case for a whole day. Would your employer have fired you if your Internet access was down for a few hours? What about a sever storm knocking out your power for few hours? Or a storm that prevented your Internet Service Provider from providing you service. If your job is so tenuous that your employer fires people because they can’t access a certain online application for a few hours, then you may well be better off finding another employer who understands the nuances and the problems of the Internet. We know jobs are hard to find and we’re sorry that you have to look for another job, but to us it seems your employer is more culpable than Microsoft.

All that being said, you raise a valid point and an issue of which we were not aware – – proving to EB once again, that she doesn’t know everything. I already knew that because after ten years of EB telling me I don’t, I’ve been convinced for a long time. It is surprising to us that Microsoft would disregard a user’s preferences and install a program on anyone’s computer without their explicit permission. I realize that updates are sometimes critical and sometimes it is in the user’s best interests to install critical updates – but no one should install anything onto anyone’s computer without their explicit permission. This goes for adware,, spyware, and bundled software – as well as for Microsoft.

We’ve always advised our readers to install Windows Updates because not installing them puts not only your own computer at risk – it puts other computers at risk as well. How? Because computers which are vulnerable help spread Trojans, worms, and other malicious software to other computers which are unprotected and vulnerable. We cannot force others to be safe and use good security software or install Windows Updates – but we can keep our own computers as safe as possible. So it’s absolutely imperative that each of us install all critical updates as soon as possible. Still each of us should have a choice how we choose to install the Updates – as long as they are installed promptly. Microsoft in one way indicates users can download and install updates when they choose and then contradicts that by saying that certain updates can be installed without your knowledge or explicit permission – and we think that is wrong.

Now everyone who reads this newsletter knows about this contradiction and can make an informed choice as to how they choose to handle Windows Updates. We will continue to use the setting “Download Windows Updates and let me choose when to install them” even though we now realize that certain updates will be installed regardless of what we choose. We certainly can’t recommend manually downloading updates because many users will forget to do it and that would leave too many computers vulnerable.

You should have chosen “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them” – and at the very least that is what we recommend to all our readers. Checking for updates manually is not good enough. We all get busy and we all forget to do things and we don’t want anyone to forget something as important as critical updates. Windows isn’t that secure to begin with and every month new vulnerabilities are found. So it is not a question as to whether or not to install the critical updates, it’s simply a question as to how you want to download and install them. Never rely on your memory when it comes to Windows Updates. To change your Windows Update settings go to Control Panel\System and Security\Windows Update. The only setting we never recommend “Never check for updates.”

As far as your situation, we don’t see how Microsoft can be held responsible for you losing your job. It would have happened at some point if you had lost your Internet connection or your electricity or both. And if a few hours of not being able to access a site or the Internet causes you to lose a job then there’s something else wrong .

Thank your for writing and for sharing your story with us. We hope you find a job soon and that your new job makes allowances for the common problems we all occasionally face connecting to and while on the Internet. It’s not a perfect world and it’s not a perfect Internet.

We wish you the very best of luck! Thanks again for writing.

One thought on “Windows Updates costs Donna her job?

  1. CLB

    So sorry Donna lost her employment opportunity. Thanks for the info though! I have been encountering errors logging into secure servers, where there was never a problem before. Unchecked the security settings and the errors disappeared. Go figure!


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