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Microsoft's drastic upgrade tactic pays off with boost to Windows 10 share

Gregg Keizer | June 3, 2016
Records biggest one-month increase since August 2015 after launching 'click-the-X' trick.

DAP tracks visits to more than 4,000 websites run by the U.S. government, so its data is highly U.S.-centric. Because the U.S. has been a stronghold of Windows 10, the smaller increase measured by DAP may be due to the already-brisk uptake of the new OS, and thus a smaller pool of customers who haven't accepted the free offer.

May's robust gains may have stemmed from Windows users reacting to Microsoft's May 5 notice that it will end the free upgrade offer on July 29. By restating the deadline, Microsoft may have prompted large numbers of laggards to get in under the wire.

A more likely cause, however, would be the mid-month push by Microsoft, the latest in a long series of campaigns, which switched the automatically-offered Windows 10 upgrade to "Recommended" in Windows Update. That, in turn, scheduled the upgrade process unless the user interfered.

Those users faced a dialog box that reinterpreted a click on the red "X" in the upper-right corner as approving the scheduled upgrade, even though closing a window or notification by clicking the X has been defined for decades as a rejection of the offered action. Microsoft broke its own design rules to assume that closing the scheduling notice meant the customer authorized the upgrade. A significant number of the reports of Windows 10 installing without user approval were probably due to Microsoft's counter-intuitive interpretation.

So while Microsoft may have added more Windows 10 PCs to its ongoing tally -- the company last year set a goal of 1 billion Windows 10 devices by mid-2018 -- the ham-handed approach infuriated those who saw it as deceptive.

win10 growth as of may 
Windows 10's uptake march quickened in May, when it recorded its best one-month increase since August 2015. Data: Net Applications. (Click for larger image).


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