"Also you only get them if you install optional/recommended updates."
"Personally I only allow Windows Update to install important updates automatically; I'll only install optional/recommended updates if I have a specific reason to do so."
Like access to some MS related service perhaps?
"And this set of updates are the exact reason I do it that way."
WGA was the exact reason I quit Windows. They followed a similar strategy back then. WGA was a "customer run installation verification" so people who bought a PC from some dodgy shop didn't get a pirated copy.
Funny how it became unavoidable. a wee while later, And baked into later versions.
As no doubt will this be in Win 10.x
At some point, you get tired of the cat and mouse crap, and say fuck this.
Then you start to look elsewhere for an alternative.
Hope you find one.