Samsung snubs Windows, but the joke's on us

Clearly, Samsung hates Windows Updates, but the company's decision to disable the software reveals its true contempt for the customer

Here it is, Thursday, and we've had an epically entertaining week. In one corner, another yahoo has declared a 2016 presidential bid, which brings the total number of either fully committed or actively exploring candidates to 28. Forget debates; they’ll have to settle their primaries in the octagon, and I hope someone pulls the Donald’s hair so we can finally know for sure what that stuff really is.

In a separate corner, we have yet one more epic fail from a PC maker screwing over its customers.

A while back, it was Lenovo and its Superfish adware fiasco. As you may recall, execs at the company thought it’d be good marketing strategy to open up its products to even more digital mayhem, charge for the privilege, and once caught, spend the first few days claiming there wasn’t really any danger while also spraying flame-retardant foam on their pants.

Samsung caught red-handed

This week, it’s Samsung, which has been outed as intentionally disabling Windows Update. According to independent researcher Patrick Barker, he was trying to help a customer figure out why a PC kept randomly disabling Windows Update, which caused the system to be dangerously and continuously vulnerable to open security flaws.

In the course of said troubleshooting, Barker discovered SW Update, a Samsung-owned and deployed bloatware suite. One of the “tools” in the suite is the Update-disabling culprit, and Samsung will have a difficult time with the “we didn’t know” excuse due to the tool’s filename, which is, believe it or not, “Disable_Windowsupdate.exe.” There has to be a forehead-shaped dent in the wall of a Samsung engineer’s office right now.

Barker immediately contacted Samsung support, undoubtedly to quietly and politely ask, "What the &%#!?"

Upon asking, he received a grammatically convoluted reply that seemed to indicate that Samsung’s USB 3.0 ports weren’t running reliably using Microsoft’s default class drivers, which were deployed every time Windows Update did its thing. The solution? Do away with Windows Update entirely -- of course!

Out with Windows

Yessir, those sure are smart folks in the Samsung executive suite. That was definitely the only way to solve the problem and certainly the wisest possible strategy from not only the engineering and marketing perspectives, but from a purely ethical standpoint, too.

It's the kind of decision you want to make loudly and openly on Bring Your Kid to Work Day so that your children can see what a fine and upstanding person their parent really is. It's the kind of decision that absolutely has no potential downside whatsoever. You know that somewhere in this decision-making process someone said, “Nah, don’t tell them about it, don’t do an opt-out, and give it an innocuous-sounding filename. We’ll fix it next fiscal” -- and they nearly got away with it.

Now Samsung PR is in full-blown fire drill mode, which means turning off their phones, ignoring their bosses’ ALL CAPS emails, weeping uncontrollably, readying resumes, and spending all night snarfing pizza and Mountain Dew to come up with a terse statement that won’t make the company look like the callous, short-sighted, customer-kicking predator it is. I’m trying to imagine what that’ll be, but given that its filename is slightly less subtle than a subway flasher with an air horn taped to his happy parts, I’m having trouble coming up with anything viable. Perhaps “Oops” … or maybe “At least we didn’t try to rip off Taylor Swift!”

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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