Escalate beyond the hosts file?
Wouldn't it be simpler to simply block settings-win.data.microsoft.com (and vortex-win.data.microsoft.com) at the internet connection? Even my cheap DSL router has a built in "firewall" that can handle a task that straightforward.
I realize this may be above the average home user's ability, but for those prepared to go to the trouble of removing, it should be possible.
Then again, maybe I'm missing something and that wouldn't work...