At least some of the grumbling may be attributable to a patch Microsoft pushed to a number of users this month as part of Patch Tuesday (KB3146449, which is buried inside Internet Explorer security patch KB3139929) which "adds functionality to Internet Explorer 11 on some computers that lets users learn about Windows 10 or start an upgrade to Windows 10." (This update seems only to create a "Get Windows 10" banner, and clicking the cancel button on it seems to remove it permanently, from what I can tell.)
But the growing amount of noise got me curious if there was more going on, beyond yet another new piece of Microsoft nagware.
I wondered if there had been another mistake like what happened last October when Microsoft pushed Windows 10 to some who hadn't reserved copies and didn't want it to override their Windows 7 or 8.X setups? (Microsoft ended up fixing Windows Update at that time to stop this issue.)
Or is this the new era of "business as usual" and Windows 7/8 users beware?
Here's a quick recap of what Microsoft officials said last year about Windows 7 and 8.x users should expect to happen:
- Anyone who made a "reservation" to get Windows 10 (whether you actually recall having done this or not) is on the list to automatically have the Windows 10 update process kick off. However, Microsoft officials said before the update changes your OS, "you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue."
- Anyone with automatic updates enabled and "Optional" and/or "Recommended" settings chosen are also in line to have Windows 10 automatically initiate on their devices. Again, users are to be "clearly prompted" before the update continues.
- The last step users must proactively take in order for Windows 10 to update on their devices is to accept the End User License Agreement (EULA).
- If users still somehow end up getting Windows 10, they will still be able to roll back to their previous Windows release within 31 days' time. To roll back, users should go to "Settings->Update and Security->Recovery and Uninstall Windows 10."
At the start of 2016, Microsoft also provided instructions for Windows 7 and 8 users who want to stop getting "nag" notifications about updating to Windows 10.
What's actually happening out there?
- At least some users are getting a notification that their PCs are scheduled to be updated, but that they have a chance to reschedule or cancel. Unfortunately, the reschedule or cancel option is a lot smaller than the big OK button on the notification screen. The screenshot embedded below is from one of my colleagues, Andrew Zarian, who said he never opted to reserve Windows 10 at all on this device.
- If users receive this notification and do nothing, they only have 60 minutes' grace period. In other words, if you don't hit reschedule/cancel or OK, the Windows 10 update process just kicks off. Update: A point of clarification: The initial notification pops up three to four days in advance, alerting users about the scheduled upgrade time, and then another reminder pops up 60 minutes in advance when the time comes. So users actually have two chances to postpone/cancel the Windows 10 update, I've heard.
- The EULA is presented to users at the completion of the update process. This is the final step. If a user declines it, Microsoft is supposed to roll back and boot into the user's prior operating system. This seems to be happening for at least some users.
This is what the Windows 10 EULA looks like. If you don't want it, you need to hit decline.
The best way for users to ensure -- as Windows and Devices chief Terry Myerson promised last year -- they "won't be surprised" about going to Windows 10 -- is to follow Microsoft's guidelines to block the Windows 10 notification update on their devices. By following the steps provided, users shouldn't see any more nags and shouldn't have the update process start or complete without them being aware it's happening.
As I've said before, I am not a fan of Microsoft's decision to take this route to move users to Windows 10. I think users should be the ones who decide if and when they update their PCs to a new operating system. Microsoft will continue to patch and support Windows 7 until 2020 and Windows 8.1 until 2023.
Although I do like Windows 10 and am running it on my laptop, I don't want it on my old Dell desktop machine and I have chosen not to upgrade it. (Once this machine is on its last leg, I will replace it with a Windows 10 machine, but for now, it works just fine with Windows 7 and I don't want or need to switch OSes.)
I have heard from plenty of other users who want or need to stay with an older version of Windows for a variety of reasons. Some have older peripherals that aren't supported with Windows 10. Some need custom business apps that aren't compatible with Windows 10. Some are still awaiting Windows 10 drivers from their PC manufacturers. Some really really want to keep their OneDrive placeholders and aren't budging off Windows 8 until Microsoft comes up with something that's a reasonable facsimile. Some don't want to have to spend any time learning a new interface. Some just don't like having their cheese moved.
Yes, I know there are lots of speed, security and other reasons existing Windows users should be thinking about going Windows 10. But I still believe it should be up to users when and if they make that decision.
Microsoft officials maintain that customers do have a choice. When I asked Microsoft for comment about this post, I received this statement from a spokesperson:
"As we shared in late October on the Windows Blog, we are committed to making it easy for our Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10. As stated in that post, we have updated the upgrade experience to make it easier for customers to schedule a time for their upgrade to take place. Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update (WU) by changing the WU settings."
Final words to the wise: If you don't want Windows 10 to install automatically on your Windows 7/8 PC or tablet, for whatever reason, here's what to remember:
- Check your Windows Update settings and make sure, if you have Automatic Updates/Recommended on, to set the time so any updates arrive when they are convenient and you are able to OK or deny them before they install.
- Just say no to the EULA. If the auto-update begins, you can still stop Windows 10 from completing the install by refusing to accept the software licensing terms and conditions.
- If you are savvy/brave enough to do registry edits, follow Microsoft's Get Windows 10 blocking steps to cancel the nagware and the automatic update of Windows 10