Today, Microsoft announced a number of changes that it says will make it easier for consumers to upgrade for free to Windows 10. But it will also switch the upgrade from an optional to a recommend install in Windows Update starting in early 2016. That could irk some who feel the company is being a bit heavy-handed in pushing this upgrade on users.
Microsoft doesn’t see it that way, of course. (And I don’t either, for the most part.) In a conversation with Terry Myerson recently, I was told that, overwhelmingly, Microsoft’s customers are clamoring to upgrade.
“One of our key learnings is that people really prefer Windows 10,” Mr. Myerson told me. “Our number one support call is. ‘how do I upgrade to windows 10? And that’s part of the reason why we’re making it easier.”
With that in mind, Microsoft is making the following changes to the Windows 10 upgrade process.
Improved notifications. As you may know, Windows 7 and 8.1 users receive a “Get Windows 10” notification in the system tray that alerts them to their free upgrade opportunity. The pop-up that appears is being updated to be more approachable and even humorous, and will vary according to locale, Microsoft says. And yes, you can specify that you no longer want to receive notifications about the Windows 10 upgrade if you’re not interested.
No more reservations. When Windows 10 first shipped in late July, Microsoft instituted a “reservation” system whereby your PC would be placed in a queue and then upgraded when Microsoft was sure your configuration was fully supported. With over 110 million PCs successfully upgraded to Windows 10, Microsoft no longer feels this precaution is warranted. So the reservation system is being dropped, and if you choose to accept the upgrade, it will happen immediately.
Windows 10 upgrade will become an “optional” update in Windows Update. Starting soon, the Windows 10 upgrade will appear in Windows Update as an optional update for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. This will make it easier for people to find the upgrade, Microsoft says, and because Windows Update is a trusted source of updates, it’s likely even more people will choose to accept the update.
In 2016, Windows 10 upgrade will be elevated to a “recommended” update in Windows Update. This one might be considered a bit controversial because it could cause the Windows 10 upgrade to automatically start on many PCs. (Many users configure Windows Update to automatically install recommended updates.) But as Microsoft notes, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue. And as always, you can always roll back to your previous Windows version (during the first month or so) if you’re not satisfied with the upgrade.
No good solution for metered connections. There’s been some warranted concern about unwanted Windows 10 upgrades happening over metered (e.g. bandwidth limited and potentially expensive) Internet connections. This is a real problem because Windows 7, in particular, has no real understanding of metered connections. Microsoft has no good news here. But as a workaround, you could disable automatic updates in Windows Update—which is not recommended for various security-related reasons—and check Windows Update manually as often as possible. Or, Microsoft recommends, just upgrade to Windows 10 already. (Windows 10, like Windows 8.x, does understand metered connections, and will not automatically download updates unless they’re critical security updates.)
Media Creation Tool is being updated. As I exclusively revealed in Windows 10 Fall Update is Set for November Release last week, Microsoft will soon be updating its Media Creation Tool for Windows 10 so that it can create a single image capable of upgrading an devices, regardless of whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit, or Home or Pro. You can also use this tool to perform clean installs of Windows 10, of course.
Easier upgrades for non-genuine PCs. As those with pirated or otherwise non-genuine versions of Windows have found, it’s possible to easily upgrade to Windows 10, but that won’t be legit either. So Microsoft has been watching to see how many of these people go legit by purchasing the upgrade online. Now, they’re going to start experimenting further, first in the U.S. by making it easier to upgrade non-Genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs with a “a one-click opportunity to get Genuine via the Windows Store or by entering an activation code purchased elsewhere.” If it goes well, Microsoft says it will expand the experiment to other countries.
Updates will be documented. Finally, in an unrelated note, Microsoft said that it would start documenting what has changed in Windows 10 updates, an other contentious issue for some users. “We will be improving our documentation of what has changed within any individual update, and improving scheduling options for when updates are installed,” Mr. Myerson noted. It’s not clear exactly when or how this change will be implemented. But good news nonetheless.