The 'solution' works, but only kinda-sorta. Pardon the length of this note, but here is my complete experience: I was able to successfully disable the VCD by:
1) Downloading and updating the passport firmware.
2) Downloading and running the VCD Manager and disabling the VCD.
3) Powercycling the drive.
After powercycling the passport, I was prompted to install driver software for "your WD SES Device USB Device". The options (as usual) were to
a) locate and install driver software
b) Ask me again later
c) Don't show this message again for this device
Before responding to these choices, the drive appeared to be browseable and writable, and showed up in the Windows Disk Management. I also verified that the VCD (F: on my machine) was not 'installed' and the drive letter was 'available' for assignment. So that was alright then.
However, the Windows Device Manager shows "WD SES Device USB Device" as an "other device" that is "not configured correctly". Despite the warning about "non-functioning" devices, I choose option (c) "Don't show this message again" (accepting the risk that, as I had been warned, the device would not function).
The "Other device" was still present in the Device Manager, which indicated that, indeed, it was not functioning because it was "not configured correctly". Wanting to eliminate the "incorrectly configured" device, I uninstalled the "WD SES Device USB Device", indicating that the driver should be deleted, and it disappeared from the Device Manager. The Passport was still functioning—perfectly as far as I could tell.
After powercycling the drive, I was again prompted to install driver software for "your WD SES Device USB Device", and was right back where I was after disabling the VCD.
Checking the FAQ/Knowledge Base at WD, I found an answer to the question "How do I get the SES driver popup to stop?"
The short answer appears to be "your can't". Specifically, the answer begins:
"Your new Western Digital My Passport/My Book hard drive requires a special communications channel (SCSI) between your PC/Mac to enable certain features such as password protection and Mac/PC cross compatibility."
As I do not want to enable password protection or to run SmartWare, and as I do not use a Mac, I don't really want to load this driver. As noted above, the drive seems to function just fine without it. The WD "answer" continues:
"This driver is only used by your hard drive and is installed by default when you install SmartWare. However if you did not install the driver upon first install and chose not to install WD Smartware, Windows will continue to prompt you to install the driver each time you connect the drive to you computer."
In other words, even if you don't need it you have to install it. Great. The driver may only be used by the WD drive, but it is clearly not needed for the drive to operate successfully; at least I can't see what functionality is impaired if the driver is not installed—other than the SmartWare functionality which, as already noted, I have no need for and no interest in using.
Then WD provides their "solution":
"We recommend that you install the driver by selecting the Install the software automatically option on the popup screen. Windows will automatically find the Windows SES driver online, and the prompting will disappear. This will not affect your operating system negatively in any way."
Well, installing the driver may not "affect [my] operating system negatively in any way"—but it is loaded into memory and so does create a certain amount of overhead all for no purpose. Come on, WD, I have been a very loyal customer because I like your hardware and have had (generally) better experience with it than with the hardware of your competitors.
Please, please, please, please don't require users to install software and drivers that are not needed for your devices to perform the basic functions (in this case file storage) for which they were acquired.
Less, in this case, is more.