The HP laptop logo next to ink cartridges all sporting HPs logo.

The HP Smart app normally only comes installed on HP computers or when users try to use HP printers.
Photo: MacroEcon (Shutterstock)

An HP app that normally only comes pre-installed on the company’s own PCs is worming its way onto Windows 10 and Windows 11 computers through the Microsoft Store. Both Microsoft and HP have confirmed they’re working to overcome the issue, though in the meantime, you might want to check your Windows PC for a software surprise. I did, and yes, I found the software had randomly downloaded onto my home Windows 10 computer.

The HP Smart app is a program used to manage HP printers, though unless you’re actively using multiple HP printers or own an HP computer, you’ve likely never seen it. Users found the app auto-installed on their Windows 10 and 11 PCs without permission through the Microsoft Store. Windows Latest first reported the issue and found the program had been installed on all versions of Windows that can access the Microsoft Store.

I found the program had made its way onto my computer with a last-updated timestamp of November 27. Earlier this week, I checked to see if it was downloaded on a new Acer Nitro gaming laptop I’m reviewing, though it didn’t seem to be affected.

The HP Smart app appears to have downloaded itself over the weekend of November 25 through Monday, November 27. You also won’t find the app through Control Panel, as it’s being installed exclusively through the Microsoft Store.

An HP spokesperson confirmed with Gizmodo that HP Smart was indeed forcing its way onto Windows PCs without users’ permission. In an email, the spokesperson told us “We are aware that some Windows 10 and 11 devices are installing the HP Smart App, and our team is actively working with Microsoft to overcome this issue. Similarly, Microsoft told Windows Central it was investigating the issue.

Despite how you may feel about HP printers, the HP Smart isn’t some malware, at least on its face. It’s not something you need to run home and fix right now. Of course, you should be able to uninstall the app simply through the Microsoft Store or the start menu.

What may be more problematic is the Windows Store itself. The shop seems to have faced some strange glitches recently, with the Samsung Internet browser suddenly appearing in the shop. That app included a screenshot of a different browser and was also impossible to download. That the program can automatically install software without users’ permission is a glaring issue that brings up a wealth of other concerns about how Microsoft has access to users’ PCs, not just through regular features and security updates.

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