Ed Bott: Accidental Windows upgrades, insecure Android, new life for old product keys

In the news this week: Microsoft swears its overly aggressive upgrade push was a mere configuration error and it won't happen again. Meanwhile, 90 percent of Android users should be concerned about security flaws, and maybe Apple forgot to sweat one detail on its new Magic Mouse 2.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

Quick, while all the Mets and Dodgers fans are still nursing their hangovers, let's look at what happened this week.

"Accidental" Windows 10 upgrades?

Earlier this week, some owners of Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs reported that Microsoft was insisting that they upgrade to Windows 10. The Get Windows 10 update was enabled by default, the multi-gigabyte installation files were downloaded in the background, and the "No thanks, I'd like to wait a while" button was mysteriously disabled.

It's no secret that Microsoft is very aggressively pushing Windows 10 upgrades, with a goal of hitting 1 billion-with-a-b users in the next few years.

In this case, though, Microsoft swears it was an accident. You'll find the full statement in an update at the end of this post:

As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update (WU) control panel. This is an intuitive and trusted place people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check.

So you may safely hit the snooze button again.

But do expect another wave of aggressive Windows 10 upgrade offers next month after the big Threshold 2 update is officially released.

New life for old Windows product keys

Speaking of Threshold 2... Windows Insiders received Windows 10 build 10565 this week. The most significant new feature is a change in the way the new "digital entitlements" work on PCs that qualify for the free Windows 10 upgrade offer.

This week's changes allow you to use any Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 product key (even keys originally sold as upgrades) to activate the corresponding Windows 10 version on a clean install. I've tested the process extensively. Full details here: "Next big Windows 10 release will ease activation hassles."

If all goes according to plan, the Threshold 2 release should be ready for the general public just in time for the frenzied Black Friday kickoff to the holiday buying season.

Android security is such a glorious mess

A brand-new vulnerability affects all Android devices, especially those on Verizon and AT&T networks:

The researchers said every version of Android was at risk, whereas other attacks were network dependent.

When contacted, a Google spokesperson said the company will fix the issue for Nexus devices as part of its November Monthly Security Update, but did not confirm which Android versions were affected.

It's also not clear when a patch will land for other affected Android devices, as these are carrier dependent.

If you own an Android device, this week's other related news will depress you:


Nearly 90 percent of Android devices are exposed to at least one critical vulnerability, because of Android handset makers' failure to deliver patches, according to research from the UK's University of Cambridge.


Their analysis of data collected from over 20,000 Android devices with the Device Analyzer app installed found that 87 percent of Android devices were vulnerable to at least one of 11 bugs in the public domain in the past five years... The researchers also found that Android devices on average receive 1.26 updates per year.

Even responsible OEMs like LG are at the mercy of device makers. The company said its highly rated G4 flagship devices will start getting the latest Android release next week, making it the first non-Google-provided Android 6.0 update. Poland, you're up first.

Anyone want to guess how long it will take Verizon to push that update to my LG G4? My money says it won't be this year. C'mon, Verizon, prove me wrong.

Apple's new, not-so-magical mouse

Anil Dash's reaction to Apple's just-introduced $79 Magic Mouse 2 is priceless:

There's a longer version of his critique at Medium:

This is ridiculous. It's obviously ridiculous. It looks wrong, and was so absurd I at first assumed it was a joke image, or that someone had just jammed a lightning cable into the old version of the Magic Mouse.

This would be just idle sniping if Medium hadn't also just featured a dramatic, deep-from-inside-the-design-labs look at the designers of the new Apple hardware: "The Inside Story of Apple's New iMacs."

Also, $129 for a trackpad? Seriously?

And that's a wrap for another week. Which stories did you find interesting? Leave them in the comments section...

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