Microsoft Update Strikes Again!

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

If you use Windows XP and have installed Office 2007 or Windows Live Photo gallery, then you may have already encountered Microsoft products installing a new search tool (Windows Desktop Search, WDS) without your permission. They have come in for a fair bit of stick for it, but it could be argued that since WDS is used by these products, they have to install it. However if you thought that was the end of the matter, then you were very wrong … WDS is now an automatic update to Windows XP.

If you enable automatic updates to Windows, it’ll appear on your machine in the next couple of days (or may already be there; mine installed itself this morning). If you do manual updates, keep an eye out for it. In theory, you can mark it not to be installed, it ought not to and should stop nagging you (though since Microsoft admit they install updates even when the feature is turned off, I’d not trust this.)

But what if it has already installed? Can you get rid of it? Well give it a try first, you might like it. If you don’t there are various ways of disabling it, but I’ve no idea how to uninstall it. It installs itself as a service, so can be disabled that way apparently (I’ve not tried this though). Alternatively, simply follow Scott Hanselman’s advice by running up regedit, select the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Desktop Search\DS key and then set “ShowStartSearchBand” to 0. Finally remove “Windows Desktop Search” from the startup folder in your start menu and it should plague you no more.


I have added a new post describing various ways of removing WDS if you are not content with just disabling it

16 thoughts on “Microsoft Update Strikes Again!

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  2. Uninstall Desktop Search 3.01 by running C:\windows\$NtUninstallKB917013$\spuninst\spuninst.exe

    (Assuming c:\windows is your windows directory)


  3. I do not find WDS in Add/Remove programs. The hidden $NtUninstallKB917013$ folder is not present in my C:\WINDOWS directory.

    But WDS _is_ installed (the service is running, the user interface is available on the Start menu, the Program Files directory exists, and the many gigabytes of index files are on my hard drive.)

    Is there any other way to remove this unwanted piece of software?

  4. Many thanks for the feedback and advice on how to remove WDS. I’ve pulled together the various deletion options as a new post that can be accessed here

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