Microsoft changing Windows 10 upgrade alerts in response to criticism

Microsoft has heard the complaints about the tactics it’s using to push Windows 10 on users, and it’s finally doing something about them.

Later this week, the company plans to roll out an update for Windows 7 and 8 that that will change the alerts it has been using to promote Windows 10. Unlike before, the alerts will now offer users a clear choice to decline Windows 10. And if users click on the red “x” button to dismiss the alert, Windows will no longer consider that a confirmation that users want to upgrade to Windows 10.

After hearing from customers that the alert boxes were “confusing,” Microsoft decided to change them, said Lisa Gurry, Microsoft’s senior director for Windows.

“We’re working really hard to address it,” she said. “We’re working hard to deliver a Windows that everyone will really love.”

In addition to changing how the Windows upgrade prompts work, Microsoft is offering free tech support to all customers who are having trouble with Windows 10, Gurry said. If users whose PCs were upgraded to Windows 10 want to return them to their previous operating system, Microsoft’s customer support staff will walk them through the process free of charge, she said.

Microsoft has been increasingly aggressive in pushing customers to upgrade their PCs to Windows 10. Last year, it quietly pushed out an update to Windows 7 and 8 computers that prompted users to upgrade. Then it made it difficult for users to figure out how to cancel the upgrade. And in May, it changed the behavior of the “x” button, which is normally used to close windows or dismiss alerts, so that clicking it opted users into the upgrade.

Microsoft also reportedly has allowed computers that are on but sitting idle for long periods to schedule and run the Windows 10 upgrade on their own without any user interaction.

Many users have complained that they have been unwittingly upgraded to Windows 1o or have had to repeatedly dismiss notifications pushing them to upgrade. Last month, a Sausalito woman won a $10,000 judgment against Microsoft after she sued the company because her computer became almost inoperable after trying and failing to install the Windows 10 update, which she hadn’t authorized.

Windows users can return their computers to an earlier version of the operating system, but some have found that their files have been corrupted or drivers used to interact with printers and other accessories have been deleted.

The company has numerous reasons for pushing users to upgrade. Among them, it’s offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users only until July 29. After that customers will have to pay at least $120 to upgrade their PCs to Windows 10.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been touting Windows 10 as the most secure version of the operating system to date. The company changed the way the “x” button worked to “make it easy to upgrade and take advantage of the security benefits” of Windows 10, Gurry said.

But the company would also benefit by having as many customers as possible on Windows 10. If it can move users off of older versions of its operating systems, it will no longer have to maintain them. And the more people on the new version, the more attractive it will be to software developers.

Until users receive the new update for Windows 7 and 8 that changes the upgrade prompts, they will continue to see the old ones that are difficult to dismiss and will schedule the upgrade if they click the “x” box. Users who don’t want to wait for the new update already have several other options for blocking the upgrade notifications and permanently preventing their computers from upgrading to Windows 10.

File photo: A Microsoft office in New York. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Jeff Safire

    Such a “Microsoft move” with this ‘X’. Since Windows began, the ‘X’ is quickly recognized as close or cancel. It’s absurd to think that move wasn’t intentionally meant to trick users into upgrading to 10. Now, they’re trying to play “hero” by saying, ‘we listened to our customers, and want to remove the confusion for them.’ It isn’t really a question of confusion until after you clicked the ‘X’ and realized, “Oh, I guess the ‘X’ now means, ‘Go ahead.'”

    Also, it would’ve been nice if your article pointed out that it is possible to download the Win 10 upgrade, switch back to your previous Win 7/8, and keep the Win 10 install for later activation. That may not be a Microsoft-sanctioned fact but, it is a possibility – even for non-techies.

  • Send Obama to Mars

    Win 7 and XP: Microsoft refuses to sell or support software that people want, and are willing to pay for.
    Win 10: garbage that is so awful that Microsoft can’t even give it away for free.
    From a shareholder perspective, MS should put Win 7 back on the retail shelf, issue a new service pack for it, and extend its life past 2020. To do otherwise, is turning away customers and sales.

  • Alex Kassir

    HI I got upgrade my PC 8 to 10 I am satisfied but I need to know how can I update it and I need to pay for WIN 10 something if yes I will go back to WIN 8