Windows 10 Upgrade: Microsoft Finally Ends Its Overbearing Marketing Tactics

The Windows 10 upgrade push that has had users in an uproar over for the last several months appears to be ending. For almost a year now Windows users have been complaining through social media, directly to Microsoft, and even initiating petitions regarding the company’s use of nagware and brute force to get them to upgrade to Windows 10. Now the company is toning down this strategy and is bringing sanity back to the lives of users.

After all the bad press and a loss in small claims court, it seems the company is finally going to cease its shady Windows 10 upgrade push.

According to ZDNet, this week Microsoft started rolling out a “new update experience — with clearer ‘upgrade now, schedule a time, or decline the free offer’ ” options.

Also, they are changing the behavior of the close button back to a dismissal of the window instead of acceptance to the upgrade. ZDNet states that the changes come directly due to “customer feedback.” Here is Microsoft’s full statement.

“We started our journey with Windows 10 with a clear goal to move people from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows. Towards this goal, this week we’ll launch a new upgrade experience for millions of PCs around the world. The new experience has clearer options to upgrade now, choose a time, or decline the free offer. If the red-x is selected on this new dialog, it will dismiss the dialog box and we will notify the device again in a few days. We continue to recommend all of our customers upgrade to Windows 10 before the free upgrade offer expires on July 29. Thousands of engineers have been working on making Windows 10 the most secure version of Windows, helping to protect people from viruses, phishing, identity theft and more. We’d like our customers to upgrade and improve their experience with Windows and Microsoft.”

Fox News states, “Microsoft is stepping up its strategy to move users to Windows 10” with its “new upgrade experience,” but a look into Microsoft’s previous actions reveals that this is just the opposite.

The aggressive push to get users to upgrade to Windows 10 started with constant pestering from the Windows Update Utility. From there it progressed to the use of a program called GWX.exe, which forces a pop-up onto the screen urging users to upgrade. According to ComputerWorld, the GWX program functioned just like malware, including having the ability to replicate and reinstall itself. Microsoft even went so far as to break its own Windows design rules by changing the behavior of the close button on the upgrade window. Microsoft programming guidelines state that the close button is to act uniformly as a button that dismisses the window without taking any other actions. For the Windows 10 upgrade window, Microsoft changed the close button to act as an acceptance to the update and the GWX program would schedule the upgrade to occur without the user’s permission or knowledge.

The perceived underhanded tactics caused a firestorm on social media outlets. Some users expressed annoyance and frustration. Microsoft’s aggressive marketing spurred Todd Kleinpaste to petition the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to investigate the tech dictator for “malicious practices.” The petition, which was initiated on June 3, has received almost 6,000 signatures. The EFF has yet to respond.

However, the strong-arming of the Windows 10 upgrade did not just cause annoyance and frustration. In several cases, it caused hardware and software malfunctions that cost businesses and other organizations money. The most publicized event of this nature involved the Chinko Project in Africa, which is a non-profit established to combat illegal poaching. Inquisitr reported that the Windows 10 upgrade forced itself onto the Chinko Project’s computers, which use a satellite uplink and that download alone cost them thousands of dollars. More dangerous, however, was the fact that the unexpected upgrade shut down their communications system, which could have resulted in the loss of life.

More recently, Microsoft lost a $10,000 judgment in small claims court when they were sued by a travel agent who was a victim of an unwanted upgrade. Teri Goldstein argued that the Windows 10 upgrade caused her computer to crash continually during her travel agency’s busiest season. She sued Microsoft in small claims court for lost business and the cost of new computers to replace the ones that no longer functioned properly. The tech giant filed an appeal to the decision, but then withdrew it.

According to CNET, a spokesperson said, “The company dropped its appeal to avoid the expense of further litigation.”

Despite the statement, small claims costs are the least of Microsoft’s worries in an appeal. The powerhouse can and has crushed bigger opponents in the litigation process. However, further pursuing an appeal in the case would make the company look even more like a bully than they already do. Public perceptions are already unfavorable enough regarding the perceived forcing of their product. Pushing an appeal on such a small claim will only serve to further a reputation of being the bully and forcing users to use their product whether they like it or not.

So for those who have been suffering from the constant pestering to upgrade to Windows 10, the end is near. If you have no wish to upgrade to Windows 10 select, “decline the free offer,” and it should not bother you ever again. Since this behavior is included with the latest Windows update, it will not take effect until you have installed that update. For the extremists who disabled the Windows Update utility to avoid the nagging, it’s safe to turn Updates back on now.

[Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images]