Microsoft makes blocking Windows 10 'Recommended' update near impossible: Report

Update: Microsoft's push to update existing Windows 7 and 8.1 users is now becoming a shove, according to a new report. But it now sounds like the situation may not be as dire as feared.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has taken another step toward making the process of opting out of the automatic Windows 10 update even more convoluted and difficult, according to a new report.


(See the update in my post below regarding what I've been able to find out about this report, which is seeming like it could be a false alarm.)

I blogged just recently that Microsoft looked like it was clarifying its murky Windows 10 update process by adding an option to cancel the Windows 10 update to its dialog box prompt. Shortly after I wrote that, it came to light that Microsoft also quietly had changed the behavior of that prompt by changing the behavior of clicking on the red X -- which normally cancels an operation -- to signifying acceptance of the Windows 10 update.

But it seems the company is now going a step further and is removing the option to cancel the Windows 10 update from the dialog box prompt altogether, as reported on June 1 by The Register.

Instead of advising users they can cancel, reschedule or update immediately to Windows 10, the dialog box in the screen shot on The Register now advises users they can reschedule or start the update immediately. The Register reports that there's no more cancel option and no more Red X on the original prompt at all.

I've asked Microsoft is this behavior change is intentional, and if so, whether the company is continuing to claim that users are in control of when and if they update to Windows 10 (a claim which I'd say is false at this point). No word back so far.

Update: It looks like this was a false alarm, based on conversations I'm having with folks on Twitter and contacts within Microsoft engineering. It seems the only way to trigger the particular screen in The Register post is by opening Windows Update, Ok'ing the install Windows 10, accepting the EULA, and then getting this screen asking when you want to schedule that update. And once a user have accepts the EULA, the user has officially consented to the update.

That all said, I'm still not loving how Microsoft is handling this whole update situation.

As PCWorld recently reported, Microsoft's decision to push the Windows 10 update so hard has led to some users turning off updates on their Windows 7 and 8.1 machines. I've heard from some of my contacts that a number of Microsoft's own employees are angry about the direction Microsoft is taking on the auto-update front with Windows 10 and are complaining to Windows and other senior managers about the company's tactics.

Microsoft officials said last October that the company planned to make Windows 10 a Recommended Update for those with Automatic Updates turned on. Microsoft did so earlier this year. But at that time, Microsoft officials also said those with Automatic Updates turned on still could opt not to move to Windows 10 if they were prompted that they were eligible for the update. However, users have had to be vigilant to make sure auto updates wouldn't occur without their knowledge, and could stop the Windows 10 update by making sure they refused the EULA at the last possible moment, Microsoft officials said.

Some of my ZDNet colleagues think whining Windows users should just shut up and update to Windows 10. I disagree.

I like Windows 10 on my laptop. I updated to it immediately. But I didn't want Windows 10 on my working-just-fine-thanks Windows 7 desktop. To make sure I didn't have it foisted on me, I installed Never10. There are other steps users can take to try to stop Windows 7/8.1 from auto-updating to Windows 10, such as using GWX Control Panel or following Microsoft's own guidance for disabling the update.

I understand that once, as a consumer, I move to Windows 10, I won't have a choice any longer about taking regular Windows feature and fix/security updates from Microsoft. That's something Microsoft has made it clear I'm agreeing to when I use Windows 10. But when I bought my Windows 7 machine, there was no such agreement on my part.

Microsoft is supporting Windows 7 until 2020, and I am justified in staying on Windows 7 until that date while continuing to get security updates from Microsoft if that's what I want to do. Microsoft's heavy-handed update tactics are just making me dig my heels in further on this one.

Update No. 2: Microsoft has released an official statement on the matter:

"The Register report is inaccurate. The Windows 10 upgrade is a choice - designed to help people take advantage of the most secure, and most productive Windows. People receive multiple notifications to accept the upgrade, and can reschedule or cancel the upgrade if they wish."

My comment: Yes, technically, you still have somewhat of a choice. But Microsoft has made the choice nearly impossible to implement because there are way too many hoops and caveats for the average person to easily opt not to take the Windows 10 update.

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