Update February 27, 2011 - Windows 7 Service Pack 1 appeared in my update queue with the checkbox unchecked. Hmm. To update or not to update?
Update January 14, 2011 - This appeared again in my Windows Updates. I figure installing it is okay now that Microsoft appears to have their ducks in a row. After the first fiasco, they probably took their time to release it correctly. This is the precursor to installing Windows 7 SP1. From Microsoft's website: "Windows 7 SP1 Release-to-Manufacturing (RTM) will be available in the first half of calendar year 2011. When released, it will be made available as an integrated release." This updates the installer in Windows 7 so it can upgrade to SP1 later. SP1 isn't available yet.
What follows is the original post.
Today, a mysterious Windows Update was released to all Windows 7 users. I'm going to preface this by saying what some Microsoft MVPs are saying: DO NOT INSTALL!
The update says, "Install this update to enable future updates to install successfully on all editions of Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. This update may be required before selected future updates can be installed. After you install this item, it cannot be removed."
This update appears to only be known as the "Black Hole update". No one knows precisely what this does but it appears to be a precursor requirement to installing Windows 7 SP1 - why it can't included with SP1 itself is unknown. There is no knowledgebase article (HIGHLY UNUSUAL!) despite having a KB article number.
Update (Oct 27, 2010): Korablikovas (see comments) pointed out that this update is not localized. In my extensive experience, Microsoft localizes just about everything that they publish. Which makes this update even more of an oddity and quite disconcerting. No official word yet from Microsoft on this issue (although someone decided to mark a reply an answer in the "semi-official" Microsoft forum post). Still no KB article. It appears that this update creates a System Restore point prior to installation, so if you accidentally installed the update and want to roll back the installation, you can use System Restore to do so.
Update #2 (Oct 27, 2010): Reports of this update disappearing from the "hidden" updates queue are cropping up. I can confirm that this update has vanished from my own queue and can also confirm that it wasn't installed. Looks like Microsoft redacted this update from any computer that hadn't applied it yet. As I somewhat suspected as I learned more from various sources, this was possibly just an accidental release of a piece of the RC build of Service Pack 1 - some sort of precursor component upgrade related to Windows Installer/MSI stuff. There's some people freaking out over this being a WGA update - apologies if anyone was lead to believe that from this post. And then there are the idiots who believed the TechArp April Fool's joke. It does bother me a bit that Microsoft can remotely redact updates but I've got mixed feelings on this particular update regarding redaction. I'd rather have remote redaction than have it still in everyone's queue who hasn't installed it. The problem Microsoft has to deal with now is those people who installed the update prematurely to roll them all back to a consistent state with the rest of us. That's probably a more difficult problem and Microsoft will likely take the approach of leaving well-enough alone until Service Pack 1 officially releases. I do recommend that Microsoft change the language of this update to not be so mysterious/suspicious and to get an actual KB article for the update put together ASAP. However, the potential disaster this could have been seems to have been averted for the time-being.
Update #3 (Oct 29, 2010): There is now a KB Article that goes along with this update. I didn't actually come up with the name "Black Hole", I just saw other people using it to describe the update because when a search was made for a KB article of the same number on the support site, no search results occurred. That is, the link and search went nowhere - a black hole. And, since it was redacted from the queues of those who did NOT install it, we can assume that Microsoft made a mistake by releasing it early. Of course, there is no word yet on what Microsoft plans to do for those people who installed the update prematurely.
What follows is original content for historical purposes.
The best information I've seen about this update is here, which says:
"In preparation for supporting a new Windows image, this update is updating the servicing stack to 6.1.7601.17105 including Component Based Servicing, Component Management Infrastructure, Package Manager, and Windows Management Instrumentation. This is to support Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 SP1."
I ran a quick Google search for portions of that text and simply came up with that blog entry again. So I have no idea how that person got that information (perhaps an internal TechNet memo). It looks like something Microsoft might write - just generic enough to be basically meaningless except to the few people who are nerdy enough to know what it likely means. I recognize a few terms but it is rather vague on the details.
Before people go crazy, I should point out that someone on that page linked to an "article" that will scare people who don't pay careful attention. It took me a while to figure out that it was an April Fool's joke. Bloggers and other media sources need to be VERY careful when republishing on this one.
The description indicates that it is an update to the installer components and therefore could merely be a mistake on Microsoft's part for not publishing a KB article. However, it could be a lot more sinister than that as well. As we already know, Microsoft is evil. Google, of course, does no evil.
Due to the speculation and the weird message in Windows Update, hold off on installing it until we know for sure what it is that is being foisted off on us. If anyone from Microsoft reads this - you need to work on being more transparent about your updates and seriously improve your public relations image. The way this update is worded and the mysteriousness surrounding it makes it look like another WGA-style fiasco in the works - and trying to sneak it by hoping it goes unnoticed. Guess what? I noticed it right away. Your pants are down...again.
Microsoft is baffled as to why people prefer Google. Straighten up, fly right, and stop treating your customers like we're unintelligent and incapable of running Google searches. Keep in mind that I'm a software developer. Here - have a reminder of who you actually cater to:
Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!
Deodorant! Deodorant! Deodorant! Deodorant!