Windows 10's Upgrading Tricks Have Gotten More Insidious

Windows 10's Upgrading Tricks Have Gotten More Insidious

In the next few years, Microsoft wants Windows 10 running on a billion devices. One way it's making sure that happens is by tricking users into upgrading in shady ways. But here's the real problem: Windows 10 is a good operating system, and Microsoft's tactics are giving it a bad rap. Those stories about people getting accidentally upgraded to Windows 10 aren't a myth; it happened to me a few months ago! For a while, when the upgrade box would pop up, I'd simply schedule it for a later time — rinse 'n repeat. Then, for whatever reason, it decided to spontaneously upgrade overnight. Windows 10 subsequently locked me out of my files, thanks to a glitch, and broke my connection to the internet, due to driver issues.

I couldn't figure out what happened until I read this excellent piece at PC World by Brad Chacos, in which he pointed out a change Microsoft made.

The upgrade box prompted by old versions of Windows been altered over the months, as Microsoft has pushed harder to make installations happen.

It used to look like this:

Windows 10's Upgrading Tricks Have Gotten More Insidious

This is what the upgrade box looked like before Windows 10 was released. (Image Credit: How-To Geek)

Even as it evolved over time, Microsoft always included options to schedule your installation for later, if you weren't prepared to make the jump yet. But those options were slowly but surely hidden in the interface.

In yet another evolution, it removed a way to tell Windows you don't want to upgrade. Your only option is to knowingly pressing the red "X".

Windows 10's Upgrading Tricks Have Gotten More Insidious

Image Credit: Info World

From here is where things get more insidious, and seems to explain how I managed to get kicked over to Windows 10.

The most recent version of that pop-up looks like this:

Windows 10's Upgrading Tricks Have Gotten More Insidious

You might think the scheduling details are good for clearly articulating what Windows is trying to do, even if you don't want it. But Windows has, at this point, trained you to think the red X means the upgrade is cancelled. That's the very premise of the X in the first place: cancel/exit.

And yet, look at what Microsoft's own support website says:

If you click on OK or on the red "X", you're all set for the upgrade and there is nothing further to do.

That's bullshit, and fully explains how I ended up on Windows 10. I hit "X".

At the time, I felt angry and betrayed, and debated a reinstall of Windows 7. That operating system had worked just fine, and though Windows 10 was shiny and new, Microsoft had publicly pledged to support Windows 7 with security updates through 2020. I hadn't upgraded for a reason. I'm someone who understands how computers work, I don't need to be held by the hand. And yet, I was being treated like a child.

Given that I cover PC games for Kotaku, I took this mishap as a chance to move forward. I'd planned on upgrading prior to the deadline where Microsoft starts charging, anyway. (July 29!) Guess what? It's been smooth sailing. While I'm not exactly a Windows power user, it's the operating system I use the most, every day of my life. I edit video, stream games, write for Kotaku — it all happens on my Windows machine. If you're a casual user, all you want is the operating system to not fuck up, and besides the bumpy upgrade process, Windows 10 has not fucked up!

Making a new operating system isn't sexy. If a company does their job right, there aren't globs of headlines praising them for being competent. But with Windows 10, every write-up is another story of annoyance about how Microsoft has handled this process. (Just yesterday, it impacted a game developer leaving a hotel!) For every person they drag through the upgrade process, they seem to piss another 10 off. That's not a good ratio.

Windows 10 is a good product, Microsoft. Maybe let it speak for itself.


    I use Windows 7 and have never seen this pop up....maybe just change your update settings rather than let Microsoft walk all over you.

      I've never received the popup either, probably because I choose to download and install updates when I want to and not when Microsoft tells me to.

      Having said that, I probably am going to update before that July 29th date. Problem is though, I have no compelling reason to need to do so, Windows 7 still works perfectly fine and only one game I'm interested in playing (Quantum Break) is Win 10 exclusive.

        There's no compelling reason not to upgrade either, but one thing that swings the balance is DX12 support. You can get it now for free, or you can get it later for a price. Doesn't seem like a difficult choice.

        What July 29th about anyway? Never heard of a reference to it until now.

          The free upgrade offer is supposed to end at that date... Though talk has it MS will likely extend it, potentially indefinitely, just to get as many people as possible onto 10.

            Fair enough...I'm more likely to just skip it then. My PC is around 5yrs old...It performs fine but would rather not risk doing anything that might upset it.

            My general rule is I only upgrade windows versions when I get a new PC.

      I thought the entire goal was to convince more people to do updates to their computers to fix security issues.

      Scaring them into disabling them is not a good alternative.

      Maybe microsoft could just stop being assholes and add a button that says "No Thanks"

    And that, my friends, is what we call a dark pattern.

    Where is the, everything, in Windows 10? I skipped 8 entirely so every time I find a Windows 7-like area it's like a Dark Souls bonfire.

      What are you struggling to find?

        Not so much an issue now, as I'm using the computer much more from an 'app' point of view so I'm able to work better within the new way MS is doing things, but from a UI perspective I still sometimes feel adrift. Internet connectivity was a big one, at one point, but I drilled deeper until I found the 'classic' settings I was after!

          Generally the search on the start menu (hit winkey, start typing) gets you pretty close to where you need to go if you can't find it normally, I find.

    I have a laptop with Windows 10 and a laptop with Windows 8 and both work fine. The Windows 8 one has Windows Movie Maker on it and since Windows 10 doesn't have that or support it, I don't want to upgrade it. It's frustrating that a good program is getting neglected with no alternative because of an update. I have nothing wrong with Windows 10 - it's fine, does its job as it should - but losing a basic video editing tool (and a good one at that) is frustrating.

      I have movie maker on my windows 10 box. I think it was bundled with MSN apps or something, but I ditched the rest.

        Oh really? I wasn't aware of that. I'll have to have a look when I get home. Would make the possible transition easier for sure.

          Yep.... part of Windows Essentials, just choose not to install the other parts.

          If memory serves me correctly, it's part of the "windows essentials" package.

    I've bee using Win10 since the trial phases and have never had an issue till recently where the system will freeze 30 seconds after the boot up, but for no more than 5 seconds.

    As long as my Media Centre box stays on 8.1.
    As for m clients we are wanting to move to 10 and have to soon but these new ways are making it happen now not when we schedule it. So I cant do the required tidy after without a frantic call from the client that something is missing/broken. Sometimes just simpl as re-enabling sharing but its enough to shut them down.

    Why not install Windows 10? It is more secure and more lightweight than Windows 7? All your old programs work and it has an interface that is well suited to a desktop pc but you can also change the interface to a tablet with one click when you are feeling lazy. The whole argument that "Microsoft is tracking everything... oooo scary!" is so stupid. Everything is tracking you - but why not? It is to make your life easier and to make things more relevant to you. They are not stealing your identity and making bank accounts in your name...

      Some apps don't support windows 10. This is more common in small businesses or schools that have custom software that was coded 10 years ago.

      Just because you cant think of a good reason doesn't mean there aren't any.

      Some people just think the UI is a big piece of crap.

      I use Windows 10 at home, but we're currently sticking to Windows 7 at work. There are certain essential apps in our workplace that absolutely do not run under versions past 7 and have no future releases in sight. Plus, until extended support ends, there's no way management will approve the expense of an upgrade.

      I imagine some folks with home businesses would have similar issues. If you've been using a particular app for your work, and it's difficult to impossible to export that work to a new app, there's no way you'd be happy with a surreptitious forced upgrade. Hell, I got pissed off when my favourite video editing app turned out to lack Win10 support, and that's just something I use for a hobby. If it was for your livelihood, you'd be fit to kill.

      As for the tracking thing, I completely disagree. It's not to make your life easier. It's to turn you into a product. It's so Microsoft can sell that information to people who will use it to manipulate you and people like you into buying their stuff, whether it makes your life easier or just wastes your cash. It should be simple and easy to turn tracking off. If you don't care, that's fine, but some of us value our information as more than just a way to turn ourselves into a product.

      There's also the "If it aint broke..." reason.

      Windows 7 has been perfectly fine for me on my primary system, so why SHOULD I upgrade it?

      As for the tracking shit, Windows 10 is definitely more questionable with it... But that's not even what bothers me the most about it, I simply don't like having COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY shit running. So the mere fact I'll have to spend time tracking down and disabling a bunch of shit to stop it 'phoning home' is ridiculous.

      Here, I have this bridge I would like to sell you...

    Windows 10 is great, but forced upgrades suck. My uncle is on 3G and capped him out with an update to the value of $50. Tried to turn of Windows Updates in Win10 and can't see anything

      You can set wireless connections to metered so Windows won't automatically download updates in the background. You can find it under wireless settings in the the 'new' settings.

        If you are on Windows 7 you don't have this option and Windows 7 is the OS that is using all the data to download a new OS that you haven't asked for.

        It's on Windows 10 now so I'll try that trick if I remember next time I'm there. Sounds like a good solution because it means I can still download updates if I bring his laptop over to my place.

      Aside from @gz's trick, you can also change group policy settings to control updates. I have mine set to notify only and I choose when to download and install.

        That is so far from user friendly.

          Of course not, the average computer user is an idiot who ends up getting their computer in a zombie net because they don't update to fix critical security flaws. Managing updates for them is like requiring vaccinations, it's necessary to improve overall net security because they won't do it otherwise.

          That's why the setting is behind the towering barrier of 'must be able to use Google and follow basic instructions'. The steps are trivial.

          1. Open group policy editor (start > "group" > enter).
          2. Browse to Computer Config > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update.
          3. Double click Choose Configure Automatic Updates.
          4. Change setting to 2 - Notify for download and notify for install.

          Last edited 26/05/16 5:34 pm

            Average computer users or average operating systems?

            Microsoft hardly has a stellar record on security. Attempts to lock Windows down in any way turn it into a mess of non-user friendly excrement.

            Even something as simple as an administrator account for installs and a power user account with some custom privileges like rdp etc isn't always a smooth ride.

            If corporations could wean themselves off of the Windows-aid and game developers put together their own custom x86/x64 os it would change things.

            FYI I don't mind Windows and in a professional sense it has financially assisted me greatly, but having dipped more than just my toes into the world of unix and linux, it's just so obvious that Windows and security is like an itch that just can't be scratched.

            Sure nix based OS's aren't as secure as it's thought they are but they're still worlds ahead of anything Microsoft has come up with. Microsoft can definitely improve but with stunts like these it just seems as if they don't even care to.

              Microsoft has had a solid security track record for years. People confuse frequent security updates with an insecure system but it's more an indicator of good security development. Linux does it too, it's just since there are different distros with different update policies it's not not a uniform "Linux does this" kind of thing that people can point a finger at.

              At the operating system level, since Windows 7 or so it's been fairly close to Linux in terms of overall security. I don't attend but I keep up to date on black hat and security conventions when I can. In contests like Pwn2Own and such, OSX is almost always the first down, and Windows usually falls late in the contest just before Linux does. The majority of vulnerabilities in Windows are introduced by third party applications, because there are a lot of developers on Windows out there that don't know how to program properly. Linux by its nature tends to scare off the worst of them.

              If security is your prime concern, Linux or Windows are both reasonable choices (be app-conscious on the latter is all). Just stay away from OSX.

    Thank goodness June will be the end of it... sort of. It's when they stop actively promoting the upgrade but the adware will still sit on your system beyond that for an indeterminate period.

    Sounds like you're getting butthurt over nothing. I agree that it's not great from from Microsoft, but the way you're carrying on makes it sound like you've had an inferior product forced upon you.

      Having a product orced on you, good or otherwise is pretty shitful, especially in cases where Win 10 screws up software you use every day.

        Let's say you want to hire a car and you really like the Corolla because that's what you're familiar with. But the dealer is insisting on upgrading you to an Audi. You're really not keen as you've always driven a Corolla, it's what you're familiar with and you know how it drives.

        You come to hiring the car on the day, and the dealer unknowingly passes you keys to the Audi. You're pretty annoyed at first - you wanted that Corolla. But after driving the Audi and seeing how much better it performs and the fact that Audi servicing gives you ongoing roadside assist, you end up ok with it. Sure, the aux output doesn't work with your iPhone 5, but you end up upgrading that down the line anyway.

        Probably the closest analogy I can come up with on the fly. Feel free to tear it apart. End of the day, you're getting a free upgrade to a better product - why not just bite the bullet and do it sooner rather than later? Are people really going to stay on Windows 7 all the way through to 2020? Is that software that's buggy at the moment not going to be upgraded and compatible with Win10?

        *again, not saying what Microsoft has done is good, it's really shit and should have been managed better. But the amount of bitching about Win10 upgrades is out of control.

        Last edited 26/05/16 4:38 pm

          What if your Corolla has snow tyres fitted and you live in Iceland and the only person who makes snow tyres went bankrupt 3 years ago so cant give you ones for the new Audi?

            If the only person who made snow tyres isn't around any more, there's always that new company that makes sleds and they work great with Audis. Sure, the way they're used is a little different but they do the same thing, and at least if you have any trouble with them there's still someone around to help you out, unlike the old snow tyres.

              What if the Audi turns out to be a self drive car and it ends up driving into one of the many Iclandic volcanos?

              My biggest concern with Win 10 is what they have planned for its future itterations.
              Step 1 - 100% market penetration
              Step 2 - ????
              Step 3 - Profit!

                What if the snow tyres are made of plutonium and melt down? Analogies only work when they're relevant.

          I dont really think the car example is fair; while an objectively better car may drive better; it may not handle the same for people using it daily; i.e. breaks may be sharper, may skid around corners with extra power from motor, its not the same experience. Sure you can adjust but why are you forced to if you are happy? windows 10 broke a number of programs for people and they are unable to use functionality that they enjoyed before. I have 10 and enjoy it; but it took awhile and some jankey work arounds to get stuff working as intended; less technological people would be very confused with things not working from one day to the next; and I dont think a forced upgrade is reasonable.

    While I do actually like Windows 10 (have it on my gaming PC), this is still pretty poor form.

    I want to use Win 10, the brief time it was working I liked it, but I had serious hardware issues so ultimately reverted back to 8.1.

    The system would lose my SATA HDD. Every day. As thats where everything is stored, it kinda sucked. I couldnt find any driver issues, and it just seemed to come down to Windows doing... something that gradually lost the drive.

    First, it would lose the contents of specific folders (and always in the same order - avi's first, mp3's second, doc's and xls last), then the folders themselves, before losing all the partitions on the drive and not showing the HDD at all in Explorer. Turning the PC off for 30 minutes seemed to reset everything, but thats not an answer.

    I checked whether it was overheating (it wasnt), and everything else I could think of, but in the end hit the revert button to go back. And the first thing that popped up was an "Update to Win 10" box...

    Which is a shame, because I did like it.

      I had similar issues and ended up going back to 7.

    Microsoft executives and win10s lead programmers should get prison time for this, they are guilty of crime.
    The failure for the US government (aus government should ban windows 10) to act against what they've done will only give the green light to every other company to do the same and steal from and rape their customers too.
    What microsoft have done here is effectively break into people's homes, hack into their computers and upload their win10 malware. There is no escaping the fact that microsoft have stolen a product from a paying customer and replaced it with something completely different, without consent. this is a crime/

    Personal computers are personal computers, as in computers that are used in a personal way.
    Microsoft have used a one-size-fits-all malware attack that will blindside an incredible amount of people who use their computer in their personal way, usually by believing the trained method of the 'box in the top right' gets rid of and cancels the thing they don't want.

      They have not hacked anyone's computer let alone broken into their homes. What a crock of shit.
      They have delivered an upgrade through the normal update channel that you can choose to turn off or not.
      If you blindly click next or do not read what is presented to you, is that their fault? I went through a stop sign because I did not read it. Waaah, it's not my fault.

      I can picture you walking behind a Microsoft employee that you've shaved and striped naked whilst chanting "Crime. Crime. Crime". I imagine you are wearing a nuns outfit because yes you are deranged.

    in windows 7, go to Windows Update, check for KB3035583 then uninstall. after that, choose only to download and install updates. u can also hide it from future recommended updates.

    i havnt seen it on my pc for 3 months since i did it.

    I have to provide my dad with long-distance tech support on a regular basis because... well, he didn't even know you can hold Shift to capitalise letters until last year. But one day he gloated that he installed Windows 10 all by himself. Since then, I haven't been able to fix his constantly breaking Skype.

    Fuck Windows 10 for tricking my dad into upgrading and breaking his Skype and making me having to deal with it.

      Skype was the only program I had a problem with after the Win10 upgrade I initially did (as prerequisite for a clean install). Removing it and reinstalling it clean fixed most of the problems, but it's also the case that Skype is just getting worse with every update now too, not just a Win10 thing. I use it for work and the number of times messages get delivered late and out of sequence is getting ridiculous. My boss uses Win7 and Win8 on different PCs and it's been happening to him too.

    The methods Microsoft have employed are disgraceful. Given how well Windows 10 has been received, I probably would have upgraded by now if it wasn't for them trying to shove it down my throat overtly and covertly. Now I just think fuck them, I'm not installing it out of principle; I have no issues with win 8.1, why should I reward this shitty behaviour.

    I run windows 10 on most of my PC's, even a thin client. My only issue with upgrading from 7 to 10 is with my main PC. For some reason it won't recognise the cpu (xeon 3ghz E5450) so won't upgrade.

    GWX Control Panel is your friend.

    I have two PCs - an old one and a new one, that I'm gradually shifting to over time. The new one is running Windows 10; the old one is running Windows 7 so that I can still use the handful of games & programs that break under Windows 10.

    I got sick of the attempted upgrades a while back - turns out GWX Control Panel lets you control how the upgrades are handled (eg. you can block ONLY the Windows 10 downloads) quite nicely. No problems since I installed it.

    Grab the GWX Control Panel and disable all of the Win10 stuff:

    Works like a charm, and is very straight forward.

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