Upgradegate: Microsoft’s Upgrade Deceptions Are Undermining Windows 10 (Updated)

Posted on May 24, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10, Windows Weekly with 0 Comments

Upgradegate: Microsoft's Upgrade Deceptions Are Undermining Windows 10

Update: Microsoft has confirmed this behavioral change and provided the following information:

“As we shared in October, Microsoft has been helping customers who received the Windows 10 upgrade as an ‘Optional’ (and now ‘Recommended’) update, to schedule their upgrade. The scheduling UI that customers are seeing began on February 1st 2016, and has evolved over time based on customer feedback. Once a customer’s upgrade is scheduled, they will receive a notification that states the time their upgrade is scheduled for, with options to reschedule or cancel if they wish. If the customer wishes to continue with their upgrade at the designated time, they can click ‘OK’ or close the notification with no further action needed.”

For months now, I’ve complained about the software giant’s heavy-handed tactics in trying to trick customers into upgrading to Windows 10. But a recent change to the Get Windows 10 advertisement that is forced on Windows 7 and 8.1 users takes things entirely too far. This is indefensible.

Frankly, this entire episode has been indefensible, with Microsoft introducing a non-stoppable, non-hideable advertisement on several hundred million PCs from around the world. And then upgrading that advertisement to thwart those who do seek to remove or hide it. It has changed the language of the ad, made no clear cancel choice available, and jammed it into the “recommended” updates that auto-install via Windows Update. If you read this site, listen to Windows Weekly or What the Tech, you know how bad things are. It’s been a constant refrain.

Well, I’ve had it.

Last week, Microsoft silently changed Get Windows 10 yet again. And this time, it has gone beyond the social engineering scheme that has been fooling people into inadvertently upgrading to Windows 10 for months. This time, it actually changed the behavior of the window that appears so that if you click the “Close” window box, you are actually agreeing to the upgrade. Without you knowing what just happened.

Previously, closing this window would correctly signal that you do not want the upgrade. So Microsoft didn’t change the wording in the window. It didn’t make an “Upgrade now” button bigger, or a non-existent “don’t ever upgrade” button smaller. It pulled a switcheroonie. It’s like going out to your car in the morning and discovering that the gas pedal now applies the brakes, while the brake pedal washes the windshield. Have a fun commute!

The violation of trust here is almost indescribable. It’s bad enough that Microsoft has been training Windows 7 and 8.1 users—i.e. most Windows users—to not trust Windows 10 because of this horrible, unstoppable advertisement. But now they will not trust their own sanity because all they’ll remember is that they dismissed the advertisement by clicking the Close windows box. Why on earth did Windows 10 just install on my PC?!?

Why on earth, indeed. Coupled with the growth of clean personal computing platforms like Chromebooks and Macs, and the fact that Microsoft can’t convince its own PC maker partners to not ruin the Windows experience with crapware, one has to wonder: Is this all part of some plan to destroy Windows from within? I mean, seriously. You couldn’t write a dumber story about how to ruin something that is otherwise as wonderful as Windows 10.

My God, Microsoft. Just stop.

And for you Windows 7 and 8.1 holdouts out there, please feel free to utilize a third party utility like Steve Gibson’s Never 10 to hide the Get Windows 10 advertisement from appearing and prevent Windows 10 from silently downloading to and upgrading your PC. You shouldn’t be treated like this, but at least you can stand up for yourselves.