Windows 10 Upgrade: Is Microsoft “Forcing” Users?

Microsoft made history with the Windows 10 upgrade. For the first time ever, the company made its latest operating system free, at least for those people running Windows 7 or 8. (Cynics will no doubt feel inclined to point out that this move copied Apple’s strategy, with the latter choosing to give away free OS X upgrades since OS X Mavericks was released in 2013).

If execs at Microsoft thought that giving the Windows 10 upgrade away free was going to prove enough to stop users complaining, they were very much mistaken. Currently, many Windows users are up in arms because they feel that the Windows 10 upgrade is being forced upon them. Amongst some, there is a perception that the new OS has installed itself without their say-so.

How does the Windows 10 upgrade work?

Windows 10 is available via Windows Update, the software built into the operating system that manages patches and other updates. This makes it possible to install the entire new operating system just like any other update.

The problems that have arisen, as reported in an article in The Inquirer, seem to be due to Microsoft having “reclassified” the Windows 10 Upgrade as a “recommended update,” allowing the new operating system to be installed along with other far less significant updates.

Within the settings for Windows Update, there’s a checkbox labeled “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates.” It seems that if people have this checked, it could “cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate” without the full knowledge of the user. Essentially, they could walk away from their Windows 7 machine, assuming that it was merely installing security updates, and come back to find a Windows 10 installation!

Forced Windows 10 Upgrade

What do Microsoft say?

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft dispute the fact that there is any practice of “forcing” users to upgrade in place.

The report states that the software giant has argued that users are always “clearly prompted” before a Windows 10 upgrade, and that it’s possible to roll-back an upgrade within a month.

This hasn’t stopped a flood of complaints from people who feel that they are “not in control” of the upgrade. Reports have included businesses coming in to find updates have taken place overnight on their corporate systems, users being upgraded and then finding themselves unable to use certain software, and Mac users dual-booting using Bootcamp unable to access their Windows partitions at all.

What’s behind all this?

The software industry tends to measure the success of a new operating system launch by its “adoption rate.” Microsoft has really struggled with this since the (let’s face it) disastrous reaction to Windows 8 on launch.

On the other side of the fence, Apple often proudly reports that up to 50% of OS X users have swapped to the latest iteration just months after each launch.

Microsoft will never hit these heights, because Windows remains the operating system of choice in corporate environments, where there’s a lot more to rolling out a new operating system than watching the upgrade happen on individual PCs.

That said, Microsoft is obviously keen to see Windows 10 adoption happen at a fast pace, so it’s not seen as a failure on the scale of Windows 8. As such, the company is treading a fine line between boosting adoption rates and overstepping the mark with customers. Unfortunately, they seem to have crossed that line here when reports mention “anti-trust” and the European Commission.

How to stop Windows 10 upgrade from taking place?

If you’re determined not to perform your Windows 10 upgrade yet, it’s not necessary to go as far as disabling automatic updates, as some people are suggesting.

Windows 10 Update

However, it would make sense to jump in and untick the box that says “Give me recommended updates the same way I get receive important updates.” (Shown above).

In addition, you should be really careful what you click on! Reports suggest that, in some cases, people have clicked “upgrade now” or “upgrade tonight” without considering the ramifications, only to return to a Windows 10 machine they didn’t want.

If you are really determined to avoid Windows 10 and want to eliminate the possibility of upgrading inadvertently, then you’ll find a good Yahoo article here with instructions on how to banish the upgrade for good.

As and when you do carry out your Windows 10 upgrade, please check out this important Windows 10 security article to protect your privacy.

Ben Taylor Ben was a geek long before "geek chic," learning the ropes on BBC Micros, before moving on to Atari STs and IBM compatibles. He was "online" using a 1200bps modem before the Internet was even a thing. Now, after two decades in the industry, he writes about technology for various publications, operates a few websites of his own, and runs a bespoke IT consultancy based in London.

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