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Microsoft renews its pushy Windows 10 activities

How to Roll Back Windows 10
Credit: Trollicitor via YouTube

It's no secret Microsoft wants you using Windows 10 and will pull out the stops to get people to upgrade. The new strategy now appears to be setting business users against their boss while upgrading consumers without their approval.

We've already covered the sneaky move Microsoft made when it added that reactivates the GWX.exe app to the updates distributed with last week's Patch Tuesday. GWX.exe is the app that pops up screens encouraging you to update. This has caused a marketplace of free utilities to disable GWX so you stop getting nagged, including the most popular app, GWX Control Panel.

This is a stunning move, because Microsoft is now setting end users against admins within a company. IT managers have enough problems with shadow IT and keeping unwanted apps and malware out of the network, and now Microsoft is going around them and telling employees to bug their boss for a free OS upgrade. Not surprisingly, this is going over very badly on the Reddit Windows 10 group.

Then there's the automatic updates that are getting pushed out to consumers whether they like it or not. Late last year, Microsoft said it would begin making Windows 10 a Recommended update for users running older versions of Windows instead of an Optional update. The difference meant that if you didn't uncheck the box for Windows 10 within Windows Update, the new operating system would be installed on your PC.

At the time, Windows head Terry Myerson said in a blog post, "you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue." Well, apparently not. Another Reddit thread is filled with reports from people who said Windows Update kicked off a Windows 10 installation process without their permission.

The thread over at Reddit has more than 2,700 comments, most of them from users that have been upgraded to Windows 10 automatically and they are not happy.

"So my Win7 machine was upgraded to win10 without my permission about 2 days ago. I downgraded again but now there is a prompt that is continuously open and asking me to select a time for my windows to update to 10...wtf...how can I get rid of it/prevent it from happening?" – user rtn1797

"Happened to my laptop running W8.1. The best part? Something went wrong with the installation process. I restarted it after everything was setup and couldn't login anymore. Forced restart, hello hard disk error." – user kaysn

"Yep, went afk and saw this message box that said something like "Your update is ready! Restarting and installing in 13 minutes". If I made myself a meal or watched tv, I would have had windows 10. Oh, and the best part is how they hid the "Decline" button in the more info button." – user bnned.

"Yep, went out for a cigarette whilst playing cities skylines, came back to it halfway through the win 10 upgrade." – user spaceman-mike.

The common theme among these users is the installer takes over when they stop using the PC, but that's to be expected. They wait for the PC to be idle. Imagine the rage if the Windows 10 installer took over in mid-gaming or mid-work.

This is clearly not what Myerson promised in late October. One Redditor claiming to be from a law practice cited the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030 and stated "the Justice Department and private persons have a right of action against both Microsoft and those persons responsible for initiating such upgrades absent conspicuous end user permissions. Microsoft's actions in this case would likely be a felony under the criminal statutes; for private actions, affected persons would be eligible for civil damages under a number of New York and federal statutes."

But that statute adds the qualifier that it's a crime to access the PC for the purpose of stealing information. I'm not a lawyer so that's as far as I should go on the subject. It won't surprise me if lawsuits do start flying. With the Obama administration in its twilight I doubt the DoJ will get involved, but the states sure will.

It gets better. I received an email on my public Gmail account from a retired woman who said, "I have Windows 7 and didn't know that Microsoft can upgrade without my consent ... I don't know what to expect. I'm really angry." So I wrote her with the steps to undo the install.

Turns out she liked it. "To be honest I love the new screen. It's like getting a new computer. I'm not having any problems so I'm keeping Windows 10. Now I'm glad they did it," she wrote.

I had to laugh.

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