Software Interplay Issues: Netop Vision 7.2 and Lenovo System Update 4.01

I spent a few hours today trying to understand why a number of computers in our (higher education computer lab) environment did not want to download updates for drivers using Lenovo’s System Update tool.

I tried disabling the usual suspects (particularly McAfee Anti-Virus 8.7i Enterprise and the Windows Firewall), but nothing made a difference. So then I eliminated all differences between systems that worked and didn’t work, one at a time. I tried logging on with different user accounts and moving the computers to different organizational units (to change the Group Policy Objects that were applied). Nothing got System Update to work, until I uninstalled the Netop Vision 7.2 client.

I don’t know exactly why, but that solved the problem. I know that the Vision client somehow modifies the network stack to enable it to block access to web sites (which is controlled by the teacher station). I didn’t have a problem visiting any web sites using a browser, but potentially, Lenovo System Update communicates with its update servers in a way that is disabled once you install the Vision client.

The specific symptoms in Lenovo System Update were as follows. I could successfully install System Update, I could successfully find updates that are applicable to the system, but once I tried to download those updates, there would be no progress. After a while, System Update would report that none of the selected updates could be downloaded.

In my case, this really isn’t all that big of a problem (except for the wasted hours); I can easily install Vision after completely updating the systems. However, it makes me wonder if there is any other software that will experience issues because of the way Vision modifies the system. If there are problems, will I think about Vision as the potential culprit, and will the workaround be just as easy? Perhaps not.

For detailed reference, the specific versions of the software involved are this (although it’s likely that many other versions will exhibit the same problems):

  • Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise Edition (x64) with Service Pack 1
  • Netop Vision 7.2 Student
  • Lenovo System Update 4.01.0015

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