HP Printer App Bug Causes Unwanted Installation on Windows PCs

Some Windows users are reporting that they have found a HP printer app installed on their PCs, even if they don’t own a HP printer. The app, called HP Smart, is supposed to help users set up and manage their HP printers, but it seems to have been pushed by Microsoft Store without user consent.

HP Smart is an app that allows users to connect their HP printers to their Windows PCs, scan documents, print from the cloud, and access other features. The app is available for free on the Microsoft Store, and users can choose to install it if they have a compatible HP printer.

However, some users have noticed that the app has been installed on their PCs without their permission, and they can’t uninstall it. The app appears in the Start menu, the taskbar, and the system tray, and it runs in the background, consuming resources and bandwidth.

HP Printer App Bug Causes Unwanted Installation on Windows PCs
HP Printer App Bug Causes Unwanted Installation on Windows PCs

According to Ars Technica, the app is being installed as part of a driver update for HP printers, which is delivered through Windows Update. The update is marked as “automatic” and “critical”, so users can’t opt out of it. The update also installs the app on PCs that don’t have a HP printer connected, or even a printer at all.

How Does the App Affect Your PC Performance and Privacy?

The HP Smart app is not malicious, but it can cause some issues for users who don’t want it or need it. The app can slow down your PC performance, as it runs in the background and uses CPU, memory, and network resources. The app can also interfere with your privacy, as it collects data about your device and your usage, and sends it to HP and Microsoft.

The app’s privacy policy states that it collects information such as your device model, operating system, IP address, location, printer model, printer serial number, ink levels, scan and print settings, and app usage. The app also uses cookies and other tracking technologies to monitor your online activity. The app shares this data with HP, Microsoft, and other third-party service providers, for purposes such as product improvement, marketing, and analytics.

The app also asks for permissions to access your files, photos, videos, camera, microphone, and contacts, which can pose a security risk if the app is compromised or hacked. The app also displays ads and offers for HP products and services, which can be annoying and intrusive.

How Can You Remove the App from Your PC?

If you are one of the users who have found the HP Smart app on your PC and you want to get rid of it, you have a few options. The app can’t be uninstalled from the Settings app or the Control Panel, as it is marked as a system app. However, you can try the following methods to remove it:

  • Use PowerShell: You can use PowerShell, a command-line tool, to uninstall the app. To do this, open PowerShell as an administrator, and type the following command: Get-AppxPackage *HPPrinterControl* | Remove-AppxPackage. This should remove the app from your PC. You can also use PowerShell to remove other unwanted apps from the Microsoft Store, such as Candy Crush or Skype.
  • Use a third-party tool: You can also use a third-party tool, such as IObit Uninstaller or Revo Uninstaller, to uninstall the app. These tools can scan your PC for all the installed apps, and let you remove them with a few clicks. They can also delete the leftover files and registry entries, which can improve your PC performance and free up disk space.
  • Restore your PC: If none of the above methods work, or if you want to revert your PC to a previous state before the app was installed, you can use the System Restore feature in Windows. This feature allows you to restore your PC to a point in time when it was working properly, and undo any changes that were made after that point. To use this feature, go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup > Restart Now > Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > System Restore. Then, select a restore point that was created before the app was installed, and follow the instructions to restore your PC.

How Can You Prevent the App from Being Installed Again?

If you have successfully removed the HP Smart app from your PC, you might want to prevent it from being installed again by Windows Update. To do this, you can use the following methods:

  • Disable automatic updates: You can disable automatic updates for Windows and Microsoft Store apps, and choose when to install them manually. To do this, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options, and turn off the toggle for “Automatically download updates, even over metered data connections”. Then, go to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features, and turn off the toggle for “Update apps automatically”. This way, you can check the updates before installing them, and avoid the ones that include the HP Smart app.
  • Block the app with Group Policy: You can also use the Group Policy Editor, a tool that allows you to configure Windows settings, to block the HP Smart app from being installed. To do this, open the Group Policy Editor by typing gpedit.msc in the Run dialog box, and navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Cloud Content. Then, double-click on the setting “Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences”, and select “Enabled”. This will prevent Windows from installing apps from the Microsoft Store that are not related to Windows functionality, such as the HP Smart app.

What is Microsoft Doing to Fix the Issue?

The issue of the HP Smart app being installed on PCs without user consent has been reported by many users on various forums and social media platforms, such as Reddit, Twitter, and Microsoft Answers. Some users have also contacted Microsoft and HP customer support, but they have not received any satisfactory response or solution.

Microsoft has not officially acknowledged or addressed the issue, but some users have claimed that they have received a reply from Microsoft support, stating that the issue is being investigated and that a fix will be released soon. However, there is no confirmation or timeline for this fix, and the issue persists as of now.

HP has also not commented on the issue, or explained why the app is being installed on PCs that don’t have a HP printer. Some users have speculated that the app is part of a marketing strategy by HP to promote its printers and services, or that it is a result of a partnership between HP and Microsoft. However, these are just theories, and there is no evidence to support them.

The issue of the HP Smart app being installed on PCs without user consent is a serious one, as it affects the performance, privacy, and security of Windows users. The app is not only unnecessary and unwanted, but also potentially harmful and intrusive. Users who have been affected by this issue should try to remove the app from their PCs, and prevent it from being installed again. Users who have not been affected by this issue should be careful and vigilant, and check the updates before installing them. Microsoft and HP should also take responsibility and fix the issue as soon as possible, and apologize to the users for the inconvenience and frustration caused by the app.

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