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How Microsoft's tricky new Windows 10 pop-up deceives you into upgrading

Brad Chacos | May 23, 2016
Microsoft's new trick to coax users into upgrading to Windows 10 relies on changing behaviors the pop-up's instilled since December.

This morning, the unthinkable happened: My wife, an avowed PC user who long ago swore to never touch an Apple device, started shopping around for a Mac Mini. And it’s all thanks to Windows 10. Or rather, the nasty new way that Microsoft’s tricking Windows 7 and 8 users into automatically updating to Windows 10.

I adore Windows 10, but I’ve long been a vocal critic of the heavy-handed tactics that Microsoft’s been using to force people into the upgrade, all to hit a goal of migrating 1 billion users to an operating system brimming with freemium services and ads. The annoying “Get Windows 10” pop-up began using deceiving malware-like tactics months ago, but it recently received an overhaul that seems purposefully designed to confuse users who have been wearily slogging through the nagging for half a year now.

That nasty change trick resulted in my wife’s beloved Windows 7 PC being sneakily upgraded to Windows 10 this morning. Sure, she has 30 days to roll it back to Windows 7, but she feels so betrayed—like Microsoft forcibly removed her control over her own PC—that she’s strongly considering embracing the Dark Side and buying a Mac, instead.

The change

In December, the Get Windows 10 (GWX) pop-up changed its verbiage in a way that mimicked malware: The only immediate options were to “Upgrade Now” or “Start download, upgrade later.” An offer you can’t refuse! The wording changed slightly since then, but the only way to decline the upgrade has been the same: By clicking the X button in the GWX pop-up’s right-hand corner and closing the window.

Earlier this year, however, Microsoft pushed the Windows 10 download out as a Recommended update. That means anybody using the default Windows Update setting—as you should be!—automatically received the installation bits and a prompt to install the new OS, which again could only be refused by exiting via the in the corner of the pop-up’s window. 

Last week, Microsoft altered the GWX prompt, as ZDNet covered. On the surface, it’s an improvement; the box clearly states when your PC will be upgraded, and even adds a (still small and easily skippable) line that allows you to reschedule or change the upgrade timing. So far so good!

gwx new 
Credit: LumpyMayoBNI via Reddit

But here’s the icky part: The redesigned GWX pop-up now treats exiting the window as consent for the Windows 10 upgrade.

 

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