Insiders poking around with what is presumed to be the RTM code of Windows 10 have made an interesting discovery. Windows Update can't be disabled in Windows 10 Home Edition, and in agreeing to the license terms, users agree to allow Microsoft to install updates automatically.
This is the direct opposite of Windows 10 Business Edition, where people can delay updates. But whereas the business edition has a reason for allowing the delays – to test patches so they don't break custom software – the reasoning for the mandatory patch installs is not so clear.
The EULA text in question reads:
The Software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you.
You may obtain updates only from Microsoft or authorized sources, and Microsoft may need to update your system to provide you with those updates.
By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.
As Ars Technica noted, it's not clear if this was just some "quirk of the previews" or the long-term plan. Microsoft's preview builds often have special rules that are not found in the commercial product.
The mandatory updates come as part of Build 10240, released to Insiders on Wednesday, and believed to be the release to manufacturing (RTM). So if this is a new setting, that means OEMs and people installing it on their PCs will get this mandatory rule.
Microsoft has already changed Windows Update to make it less permissive. Previous versions of Windows Update gave you the option of automatic updates or doing it manually. You could also choose to never install updates, although that really wasn't a good idea.
In Windows 10, you have just two choices. You can either have your computer check for updates, download, install, and reboot automatically, or check, download, and choose whether or not to reboot. Either way, you are getting those patches.
This move should not be viewed with great negativity. Microsoft is trying to keep its software updated, because unpatched versions of Windows are often spawning pools for malware. Plus, Microsoft is attempting to move Windows to Software-as-a-Service, and keeping the client up to date is mandatory.
To some degree we already live with this, especially us gamers. If I sign in to Blizzard Software's Battlenet to play "StarCraft 2" or "Diablo III" and the game software has been updated since my last login, a patch is pushed down before I can play. This also applies to massively multiplayer online (MMO) games like "World of Warcraft" and "EverQuest." As an EQ player, once a month (or more) I have a major patch pushed out to my PC. It takes all of a minute to update and I'm off on an adventure.
The only potential downside is that Microsoft has something of a track record of screwed-up patches that needed to be recalled. There have been patches so bad they bricked large numbers of PCs. So Microsoft better have its patching house in order if it's not going to give home users the option to wait.