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November 29, 2017

Laptop owners accuse HP of secretly installing software in the background

by John_A

Customers who own a Windows-based laptop manufactured by HP are hitting the internet with complaints about software the company is allegedly installing in the background. It’s an updated version of the HP Touchpoint Manager software for IT management, and with it, a new Windows telemetry service called HP Touchpoint Analytics Client. Both are appearing on HP’s Windows-based laptops without the user’s permission.

Before the update, HP Touchpoint Manager was a stand-alone device management service licensed out to businesses and corporations. It’s used by administrators to locate, lock, and erase a device if needed, troubleshoot devices by remote, and get device-based statistics. Now the service is rolled into HP’s Devices-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform, thus HP discontinued the stand-alone version.

Even more, HP’s new DaaS platform is served up in Standard, Enhanced, and Premium licensing plans. There is nothing about this platform that targets HP’s mainstream customer base. That said, why are these laptop owners even receiving HP Touchpoint Manager in the first place?

“I found HP Touchpoint Manager unexpectedly deployed on my PC earlier this week — obviously without my consent,” reports one laptop owner. “No sign of the installation via HP Support Assistant, it only appeared in Program & Features all of a sudden.”

“Got it installed automatically,” says another. “No idea where it came from and it installed itself in three different HP laptops.”

Outside the sudden appearance of unexpected software, the HP Touchpoint Analytics Client component installed with HP Touchpoint Manager is reportedly slowing down laptops. For instance, one owner jumped on Reddit to report that the software was installed on his HP Pavilion P3V59Pa notebook without his consent, and consumes large amounts of memory. Another Reddit user reported a similar issue with a tablet manufactured by HP, who saw better performance after uninstalling the unwanted software.

Over on HP’s forums, another customer reports that the software appeared just days ago, and began consuming between 95 and 98 percent of his laptop’s processor.

“In Task Manager, I can see it starting and stopping numerous applications, it’s client service and installer, console window host, command prompts, and timeout-pause command prompt,” the post reads. “It’s causing a lot of up and down use of anti-malware service executable and local system.”

According to its Services description in Task Manager, the HP Touchpoint Analytics Client “harvests telemetry information that is used by HP Touchpoint’s analytical services.” It appears to collect data each day and sends that data to HP’s licensed cloud-based DaaS service. That is not entirely suspicious on laptops used in the enterprise space for administrative reasons, but it is clearly an unnecessary privacy issue on consumer-facing machines not meant to be monitored by anyone but the owner.

Ultimately, because HP Touchpoint Manager is installed in the background, it may not be listed on the Start Menu in Windows 10. To remove the unwanted software, right-click on the Start Button, and then click on the “Apps and Features” link. Once the “Settings” window opens, locate and uninstall HP’s software.

We reached out to HP for comment.

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