New Windows 10 Upgrades Have A Nasty Surprise
Are you happy using Windows 7 or Windows 8? Would you like the Windows 10 upgrade?
I’m asking you these questions for two reasons. Firstly because I think respecting consumer choice is important. Secondly because Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 upgrade trick demonstrates the company stopped caring about your answers to both these questions a long time ago. Yes, a nasty surprise is in store…
‘Great Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating operating system updates for the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.
As picked up in a scathing new PCWorld article by a furious Brad Chacos, Microsoft has deceptively changed the Windows 10 upgrade notice and it is catching out millions of Windows 7 and Windows 8 users who wanted to stay put.
How requires a short history lesson: For the last six months Microsoft has presented Windows 7 and Windows 8 users with a Windows 10 upgrade pop-up that seemingly gave you little choice: ‘Upgrade Now’ or ‘Upgrade Later’.
The only way to skip the upgrade was to close the ‘X’ in the top right corner and, given the regularity of the pop-up, dismissing it via this method has become second nature to millions who are happy staying where they are.
Well not anymore.
Now the Windows 10 upgrade pop-up has been changed and if you dismiss it using the ‘X’ in the top right corner it sends the message to Microsoft that you WANT to install Windows 10 and the upgrade will begin.
Yes, Microsoft has changed the one action which previously stopped a Windows 10 upgrade and turned it into a confirmation. Furthermore the user is not notified of this prior to the upgrade starting.
Why did Microsoft do this? It all comes down to how the company has tweaked the upgrade pop-up.
Instead of asking you to confirm you want to upgrade (which clicking ‘X‘ stops), the new pop-up assumes you have accepted you want to upgrade because it is now ‘Recommended’. So clicking the ‘X’ means you are dismissing the window because you already agree. Sneaky in the extreme.
Now if you want to avoid the upgrade you need to spot the new sentence “Click here to change upgrade schedule or cancel scheduled upgrade”. It’s the only route to opt out. Microsoft confirmed this change on its upgrade page saying: “If you click on OK or on the red “X”, you’re all set for the upgrade and there is nothing further to do.”
Windows 10 Upgrades Are Borderline Malware
I contacted Microsoft asking it to justify this sudden change of behaviour and received the following statement:
“With the free Windows 10 upgrade offer ending on July 29th, we want to help people upgrade to the best version of Windows. As we shared in October, Windows 10 will be offered as a ‘Recommended’ update for Windows 7 & 8.1 customers whose Windows Update settings are configured to accept ‘Recommended’ updates. Customers can choose to accept or decline the Windows 10 upgrade.”
Yes, I’m sure this attitude annoys many of you as much as it annoys me.
The problem is not whether users can accept or reject a Windows 10 upgrade. It is that in continually changing what users have to do and even how specific buttons behave, Microsoft is deliberately causing confusion and increasing the chance the wrong option will be picked. This is a tried and trusted tactic of malware.
And at this point I want to be very clear: none of this is about Windows 10 itself. Whether you like, dislike, need or avoid Windows 10 is a personal choice based on individual circumstance.
My problem is Microsoft clearly no longer respects any of this. Over the last year, forced Windows 10 downloads (even if you say ‘No’) have escalated to hardware restrictions, automatic upgrade recommendations and support cuts. Now even successfully rejecting Windows 10 upgrade prompts has become a game of cat and mouse.
My advice? For those who do want to avoid Windows 10, the excellent third party tool GWX Control Panel is the simplest option. Meanwhile those who have now accidentally upgraded to Windows 10 can use the platform’s rollback feature to return to Windows 7 or 8.
As for the longer term picture, Microsoft recently pledged to dial down its Windows 10 upgrade pressure once the platform is no longer free. That’s two months and counting. After which I sincerely hope Microsoft remembers its manners…