Community fights back for AutoPatcher

Microsoft's move this week to close down the AutoPatcher project, a project well known and supported here on Neowin, that allows users to update their computers without requiring an internet connection, has met with cries of outrage from members of the Neowin community, and IT professionals from around the world.

Since the initial take-down messages were sent out, and contact was made with both the Neowin administrators, and the project managers of AutoPatcher, Microsoft have fallen silent on the issue, leaving the community with little explanation about the reasons behind their action.

As seen by the number of responses the the news articles, and forum topic here on Neowin, and the news item posted on AutoPatcher's official website, the community is taking this issue very seriously, and are unlikely to let it rest without a full explanation from Microsoft officials.

In a display of support for AutoPatcher, one fan and Neowin member, M2Ys4U, took it upon himself to make a solitary protest outside Microsoft's UK HQ building in Reading this afternoon. As he wasn't permitted to enter the campus, he made a stand outside the gates, displaying his 'Save AutoPatcher' sign for about an hour, before being asked to move on by security.

Whilst Neowin.net does not officially endorse such a protest, we are pleased that it remained peaceful and nobody had to get hurt.

View: M2Ys4U's Protest Sign
Video: M2Ys4U's Protest Video Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 -Part 5
View: Ongoing Forum Discussion of the issue
Link: AutoPatcher

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106 Comments

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IMO if Microsoft can't even give a good explanation then the AP team should break ties with Neowin, take production underground, and release the project with someone who just doesn't give a **** like thepiratebay.

I dont understand why autopatcher is better then wsus ? Why do i need autopatcher when wsus updates all the windows boxes and other mcirosoft software automatically at a specified time. Also only the wsus server downloads the updates.

Microsoft have fallen silent on the issue, leaving the community with little explanation about the reasons behind their action.
Another case of the ever nebulous 'community' thinking it's more powerful and more deserving than it really is.

It never occurs to members of these so-called communities that they're just not important enough to anyone outside of their own belief system to warrant an explanation.

I hope people don't take this apparent support for Autopatcher too seriously. People love to 'rally around' for even the most trivial of things. In fact, it seems that some believe it is the only thing that the web is good for.

Seems to me a simple solution would be to hand further development to someone happy to take this underground and downloads via p2p/BitTorrent, MS can't stop that.

MS at least could of helped with Autopatcher and policed it's development, now I'm sure we'll see alternatives appear elsewhere, and I'm sure there's no shortage of links for the last August version.
The only downside would be dodgy autopatchers (i.e. spyware infested), I think MS have just shot themselves in the foot.

As much as this software might be helpful to a lot of you i'm sure that we all managed before without it. I just hope that people put as much effort into complaining about real world issues. Seriously get a grip people.

Even big ships are not immune from losing the prop or rudder which seems to be Microsoft's problem of late.

#1 Vista PR disaster
Technical problems are no worse than with other major OS shifts such as Windows 95 and 2000, in the case with Vista MS is losing it with the general public. Never have I had so many average people with negative comments, some without even using Vista yet.

#2 WGA Fails
It was a failure in the eyes of the average Jane & Joe. Does not matter what the technical reason was - to the average person that encountered this it was a hassle they should not have had to deal with. PR is doing the wrong thing here, just hang your head, say you’re sorry and make sure that issues with WGA do not affect the honest.

#3 Autopatcher
Enough said. We need some kind of utility to make update CDs because news flash everyone does not have high speed Internet. In my part of the Western Wisconsin cellphones have big dead zones and some homes do not have indoor plumbing. Most "high speed" Internet connections are 384K and many homes and some business too still have dial-up connections.

MS doesn't owe anyone an explanation.

It is THEIR software, THEIR updates, THEIR license agreements.

Making some stupid sign and trotting outside of any MS office just makes you and the community that supports it look stupid. All he did was basically show the world what a freaking moron he is.

Congrats... you're now an internet joke.

It could be worse. You could have no job, a messy desk, horrible writing skills... oh wait.. you just showed that in your picture of the sign and videos. It can't get any worse.

I liked Autopatcher but when I started seeing Vista then Office versions I thought the end was going to come from the man upstairs

Who wants to see M2Ys4U run around without apparel in front of MS tomorrow with a sign that says "Bring back AutoPatcher or ELSE!" ?!?!??!

OK, I don't either but eh, would make for some good Youtube views lol

Well I honestly don't use autopatcher because I use nlite to sliptream my hotfix into my cd... honestly, it has been time saver when I have to fix those slow computer and dial up user... I don't know why microsoft being litltle b!tch about it no one is making profit off this hotfix, this tools just make life easier for the technicians(like my self) and IT pro.. like ryan pack he does not include WGA require hotfix... honestly, microsoft think installing all there flaw/bug/etc.. is fun? the **** is time consuming. but whatever.. good for them if people back fire at them, I would understand if maker of autopatcher is breaking some law or making money off the hotfix etc.. but they not...

They are breaking copyright law by redistributing MS patches without permission.

I never used autopatcher so I may be way off but if the problem is that you are redistributing Microsoft patches why can't you just modify the project so each user has to download them? Do something similar to theWindows Updates Downloader site.

FrankE9999 said,
They are breaking copyright law by redistributing MS patches without permission.

Actually when they started the project, Microsoft gave them to go-ahead.

Whilst Neowin.net does not officially endorse such a protest, we are pleased that it remained peaceful and nobody had to get hurt

Be honest, who would have like to see it go the other way. M2Ys4U's rampage with a picket sign :P

Protesting won't work at all. They never work. The only thing that happens when people protests is the wastage of their time. MS don't care if you try to protest because not everyone like or use it. If you don't like a business's action, too bad, suck it up or do business somewhere else.

MS have every right to cease Autopatcher. It's rubbish anyway because Windows Update outsmarts it. Just install Windows and "forget" the updates. Let Windows install them for you. Having a dial up connection is not an excuse. Even some people here have broadband plans that shape speeds to dial up and updates are downloadable on these speeds. These updates are not that large and can pause and resume when needed. It's just that they have a low proirity on your connection so that you can still use the net while downloading these updates.

And what about a large company that was using AP to patch 500+ or more computers at once?

It wasn't just the average geek using it, or some lowly Windows pirate that can't access Windows Update that needed AP, there are alot of people who used it for specific reasons, other than "its easier than WU" or whatever.

There could be plenty of reasons to use AP, just as I'm sure you could come up with a counter for every reason. It doesn't matter though, if MS wants AP nuked, there isn't much we can do - some of us just want a *reason* for it being nuked, other than "omg viruses!" or something.

Have you ever tried to download even 100 megabytes of a file on 56k? I have and let me tell you it sucks. I am glad I don't have to any more, but 100's of megabytes of files for just Windows updates when a large amount of people format often is ridiculous. And not that it has not been said already, but think of the repair shops and administrators that rely on this more than almost any other tool. By the way, the official Windows Update definitely does NOT outsmart it. In many ways it is far less superior.

myrhymeandreason said,
Have you ever tried to download even 100 megabytes of a file on 56k? I have and let me tell you it sucks. I am glad I don't have to any more, but 100's of megabytes of files for just Windows updates when a large amount of people format often is ridiculous. And not that it has not been said already, but think of the repair shops and administrators that rely on this more than almost any other tool. By the way, the official Windows Update definitely does NOT outsmart it. In many ways it is far less superior.

That's why they have Update Catlogue so you can download them to disk for use on other computers.

As for companies, just set each computer to auto update and you won't have to worry about it. I know because I did work experience at a university and had to check the intergy of every computer in some labs ~ 150 computers a day! They have auto-updates checked to ON. The computers does the downloading and install of the updates, not people. Again if you are a smaller business who is worried about bandwidth, use Update Catagulue. MS have some tools that can help you with network installs.

As for companies, just set each computer to auto update and you won't have to worry about it.

That would be a very bad thing for a company to do.

You make it sound like they haven't said anything for months. It's been one day. You should probably be thankful anyway, I'm sure this has gotten neowin more traffic than autopatcher being around ever did.

One of the points is that usually they're quick to say why they sent out a C&D when they do this stuff. This time around they're not doing that. They're not giving a valid reason why had this done.

It doesn't make sense because they've known all about AP from the beginning and never had an issue with it. Then one day out of the blue they want it gone and won't explain why.

Anyone involved in making or using AP has the right to be angry and know what's going on.

Here's what you do:

Get the neowin logo, blow it up really big, print it out, and get cardboard.

Cut out the lettering and trace the letters onto the cardboard.

Cut the cardboard traces out, go to the Microsoft campus, and spray-paint the cardboard stencil onto the entrance, on their sidewalk, or something of the like outside so they'll have to look at it each time they pass by.

Then laugh and run. Make it quick though.

I can really see Microsoft, a corporation with a revenue of $51,120,000,000 per year, taking our web forum seriously now. Nice work making a mockery of the situation - now they won't give Neowin.net a second glance.

Lt-DavidW said,
I can really see Microsoft, a corporation with a revenue of $51,120,000,000 per year, taking our web forum seriously now. Nice work making a mockery of the situation - now they won't give Neowin.net a second glance.

Yes, I'm sure because one person among thousands made a fairly funny little protest in the UK - MS will now disregard us as not being serious anymore. Righttttt.

LOC said,

Yes, I'm sure because one person among thousands made a fairly funny little protest in the UK - MS will now disregard us as not being serious anymore. Righttttt.

The fact that this is pinned to the top of the site in question makes me question that.

Go M2Ys4U! I wish I knew where my local Microsoft headquarters was.

I wish there was some way of contacting the people at Microsoft who are responsible for this.

ap has saved us,without it we will be vulnerable to viruses,i use ap on fresh installs and i always disconnect the net then run ap then install av then go online,M2Ys4U:good job,you at least tried,ap must live or ms should explain why ap needs to go now instead of years back.i think ms wants ppl to get viruses then they can make lotsa money on support calls.

wow.. of course all the MS-haters come lashin out.. you guys who are whining about this suck... stop crying about it and just download the updates like your supposed to... geez... i don't see what the big deal about this is.. just download, install, done.. Windows Update does this all for you.. what's so hard about that?

This is a smart move that MS is making.. but a bad choice to make it this late.. they should've done this a loong time ago. But oh well.. glad they're doin it now.

Even though in the previous article they said it doesn't do with WGA, I think it kinda does do with WGA.. and if I were them, I wouldn't be afraid to admit it.. too many bootleggers out there and it's not fair for ppl like us who actually pay for it.

I'm sure if Mac or Linux were as big as Windows, they'd do the same thing.. it's an untrustworthy world with your patches being distributed on someone elses servers.. you never know if they tampered with it.

Hey, I'm not an MS hater, I just did this because
1) it was a laugh
2) I'm annoyed at MS about AP because of the work that's involved
3) Why the hell not!

j2006 said,
...
I'm sure if Mac or Linux were as big as Windows, they'd do the same thing.
...
You don't know much about the Linux side if you think than an entity could force restrictions like this (consolidating to only one server source, and threatening legal actions against mirrored patches).

Well thats great an for those with a nice broadband connection - but sadly I work for a charity that has 20 computers running off one dial up connection. So does that mean that i'm going to have to download from Windows Update for each one at 3.5k/sec?

I don't know why but downloading AP at home on my 20mb connection and then taking it into work and running it on each computer just seems like a lot less hassle.

Still I guess MS knows best ;)

(and don't even suggest that my workplace should upgrade to broadband - i've been trying to get them to do that for the last 3 years!!!)

Pygmy_Hippo said,
Well thats great an for those with a nice broadband connection - but sadly I work for a charity that has 20 computers running off one dial up connection. So does that mean that i'm going to have to download from Windows Update for each one at 3.5k/sec?

I don't know why but downloading AP at home on my 20mb connection and then taking it into work and running it on each computer just seems like a lot less hassle.

Still I guess MS knows best ;)

(and don't even suggest that my workplace should upgrade to broadband - i've been trying to get them to do that for the last 3 years!!!)

AutoPatcher is NOT the only solution to these problems. yes, its likely the best, most convenient, most efficient option, but no, without autopatcher you are NOT stuck with downloading all the things off windows update, one computer at a time at that slow pace. you can download them once. come on, just think a little before you start complaining...

Pygmy_Hippo said,
Well thats great an for those with a nice broadband connection - but sadly I work for a charity that has 20 computers running off one dial up connection. So does that mean that i'm going to have to download from Windows Update for each one at 3.5k/sec?

I don't know why but downloading AP at home on my 20mb connection and then taking it into work and running it on each computer just seems like a lot less hassle.

Still I guess MS knows best ;)

(and don't even suggest that my workplace should upgrade to broadband - i've been trying to get them to do that for the last 3 years!!!)

Umm NO it is called WSUS, install a WSUS server and have it download updates daily at like midnight, that way it will have very limited impact on your connection. have none of you people ever heard of WSUS

ripgut said,
Good one M2Ys4U, you ****en rock, i should do the same here in Seattle at the Redmond Campus

Except here in the States if you did that they'd arrest you for being a terrorist or something, you'd be tackled by homeland security probably lol

LOC said,

Except here in the States if you did that they'd arrest you for being a terrorist or something, you'd be tackled by homeland security probably lol

Very sad because of how true that is. It's getting to where you'll fart in public and be arrested for releasing nerve gas.

"OMG there's a guy outside holding a sign that reads something about an Autopatcher"

"Must be some type of new Bin Laden weapon. Arrest him and hold him for a year with no access to lawyers. Just keep him in a dark room"

LOC said,

Except here in the States if you did that they'd arrest you for being a terrorist or something, you'd be tackled by homeland security probably lol


M2Ys4U's lucky it didn't happen to him here.

Why does Microsoft have to reply? It's their software and they set the ground rules. You can protest all you want but Microsoft can do what ever they want since they actually own the software on your computer. You only lease it's use.

If everyone associated with Autopatcher or it's use decided to switch to Linux or OS X would Microsoft care? No. They have a new crop of customers born every day.

That isn't the point.

This is about a large group of people from all over, regular users, IT professionals, tech savvy, non-tech savvy, all wondering why MS just now decided that AP was a bad thing and had it C&D'ed like this.

An explination may not be warranted, but it would probably go a long way to make people feel a little less "angry" about the current situation I'd bet.

LOC is right, it's not even half about the legal issues and technicality. As far as legality, Microsoft has every right in the book if the AP team doesn't want to listen.
It's about all the people suddenly ****ed because they don't have a one-click install solution anymore.

Nail on the head, mate. If they shut it down when it was just Raptor and I back 3 years ago, it would be one thing... but they've known about it for the whole time. We've (Raptor, me, Neobond, others) even talked to Microsoft verifying things were okay. To just shut it down out of the blue with absolutely no real reason when it has a huge fan base it quite a bit of poor judgement on their part. As LOC said, just an explanation would really smooth things over.

Yep that made the appeal look good, you always get someone. The forum is now getting stupid with the fight back against this, have a little respect for yourselves and the news updates on the issue. Im starting to see why MS didn't want to be associated with us.

geezz... what an idiot.

i doubt anyone in the UK campus of MS will bat an eyelid at this.

go get a hair cut, or a job !!

chenks said,
geezz... what an idiot.

i doubt anyone in the UK campus of MS will bat an eyelid at this.

go get a hair cut, or a job !!

Whats wrong with long hair, I also have a pony tail.

Damn you sound like a wife bitching at a husband. I guess you can't see it was more of a joke then an actual protest.

bloody hell all these damn hippies, lmao, he stood up for whathe believes in, if more poeple did the worls would be a much bettr place

Whilst Neowin.net does not officially endorse such a protest...

Why not? M2Ys4U's protest was neither illegal, immoral, nor fattening! And it certainly wasn't violent.

So why don't you endorse such a protest? Neowin and its friends and associates were certainly harmed by Microsoft's action. Afraid you'll p¡ss off the big M$? I can't think of any other valid reason for withholding your support for such a legal and thoroughly justified protest.

M2Ys4U said,
apologies for the awful sign :P

**** man, that was awesome. Where abouts is their UK campus? If it's anywhere near me I'd love to go for a joint protest. With an even ****tier sign.

EDIT: Wahey, beat the word filter and everything! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!

Kushan said,

**** man, that was awesome. Where abouts is their UK campus? If it's anywhere near me I'd love to go for a joint protest. With an even ****tier sign.

EDIT: Wahey, beat the word filter and everything! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!

There campus is at Reading, Google Maps link Was there for an interview last year. The campus is lovely!

Being a SysAdmin, I find autopatcher one of the best time-saving tools around. It would be a real shame if it does get killed by the evil money-making giant that is M$

And thanks for starting all of this M2Ys4U