How Microsoft Tricked Me Into Installing Windows 10

How Microsoft Tricked Me Into Installing Windows 10

In the next few years, Microsoft wants Windows 10 running on a billion devices. One way it’s making sure that happens is by tricking users into upgrading in shady ways. But here’s the real problem: Windows 10 is a good operating system, and Microsoft’s tactics are giving it a bad rap.

Those stories about people getting accidentally upgraded to Windows 10 aren’t a myth; it happened to me a few months ago! For a while, when the upgrade box would pop up, I’d simply schedule it for a later time — rinse ‘n repeat. Then, for whatever reason, it decided to spontaneously upgrade overnight. Windows 10 subsequently locked me out of my files, thanks to a glitch, and broke my connection to the internet, due to driver issues.

I couldn’t figure out what happened until I read this excellent piece at PC World by Brad Chacos, in which he pointed out a change Microsoft made.

The upgrade box prompted by old versions of Windows been altered over the months, as Microsoft has pushed harder to make installations happen.

It used to look like this:

This is what the upgrade box looked like before Windows 10 was released. (Image Credit: How-To Geek)

Even as it evolved over time, Microsoft always included options to schedule your installation for later, if you weren’t prepared to make the jump yet. But those options were slowly but surely hidden in the interface.

In yet another evolution, it removed a way to tell Windows you don’t want to upgrade. Your only option is to knowingly pressing the red “X”.

Windows 10's Upgrading Tricks Have Gotten More Insidious

Image Credit: Info World

From here is where things get more insidious, and seems to explain how I managed to get kicked over to Windows 10.

The most recent version of that pop-up looks like this:

Windows 10's Upgrading Tricks Have Gotten More Insidious

You might think the scheduling details are good for clearly articulating what Windows is trying to do, even if you don’t want it. But Windows has, at this point, trained you to think the red X means the upgrade is cancelled. That’s the very premise of the X in the first place: cancel/exit.

And yet, look at what Microsoft’s own support website says:

If you click on OK or on the red “X”, you’re all set for the upgrade and there is nothing further to do.

That’s bullshit, and fully explains how I ended up on Windows 10. I hit “X”.

At the time, I felt angry and betrayed, and debated a reinstall of Windows 7. That operating system had worked just fine, and though Windows 10 was shiny and new, Microsoft had publicly pledged to support Windows 7 with security updates through 2020. I hadn’t upgraded for a reason. I’m someone who understands how computers work, I don’t need to be held by the hand. And yet, I was being treated like a child.

Given that I cover PC games for Kotaku, I took this mishap as a chance to move forward. I’d planned on upgrading prior to the deadline where Microsoft starts charging, anyway. (July 29!) Guess what? It’s been smooth sailing. While I’m not exactly a Windows power user, it’s the operating system I use the most, every day of my life. I edit video, stream games, write for Kotaku — it all happens on my Windows machine. If you’re a casual user, all you want is the operating system to not fuck up, and besides the bumpy upgrade process, Windows 10 has not fucked up!

Making a new operating system isn’t sexy. If a company does their job right, there aren’t globs of headlines praising them for being competent. But with Windows 10, every write-up is another story of annoyance about how Microsoft has handled this process. (Just yesterday, it impacted a game developer leaving a hotel!) For every person they drag through the upgrade process, they seem to piss another 10 off. That’s not a good ratio.

Windows 10 is a good product, Microsoft. Maybe let it speak for itself.


  • Just happened to me and its screwed my computer and locked me out. I will never purchase a microsoft product ever again and quite happy to sue them infact looking into it now and I know it will cost but happy to do it on principal.

  • Granted, they are getting sneakier.
    You could’ve just read the part where it says ‘Click here to change upgrade schedule or cancel scheduled upgrade’ which they’ve placed conveniently in the middle of your screen.

  • I saw this happen the other day. I was in the middle of an interview and it had to be ceased because out of the blue it started to upgrade to 10 even though she hadn’t planned on changing.

    I had ten on my new computer (which broke 🙁 ) and found that it was slower and pushy. If I delayed the updates the start button would cease working and I would have to update. I thought it was just mine but it also happened on my mothers, two different brands.
    So when I had to go back to my old computer (being held together by sticky tape) I’ve decided to stick with win8. If it upgrades on me I will be pissed (and I’m sure this computer would fall apart).

  • I don’t know what the big fuss is about, Win10 runs better than 7 did for me.

    • Hi Neon, well part of the fuss is about how users feels that the red x button has been used by Microsoft as a de facto decline so may years that users (in my view, rightly) feel that it is exploitative, abusive and sneaky for Microsoft to force an upgrade to Windows 10 on consumers who have possibly been declining it for months already through making that button a de facto accept. In my circumstance not only has it cost me money through data usage (I’m on pay-as-you-go whilst travelling) but the installation process rendered my laptop unusable for hours, when I really REALLY needed to use it. I’m presumably going to end up wasting more data finding out how to rollback and lose the use of my laptop whilst the rollback is in progress – and time is money! Microsoft has, quite simply, shafted me. I will, however not have to pay (thankfully) when I use free wifi to research how to remove Microsoft from my laptop entirely and move to a different OS. Seriously ,i sthere a rogue person at Microsoft with shares at Apple? I’ve always thought Apple was over-priced for my needs and I don’t buy into the fashion aspect of it as a brand. Within 30 minutes of Microsoft screwing me over I was texting mates who have been extolling the virtues of Apple to start devising a way to get myself into a Microsoft-scum free life., even if that means buying new a (well, probably reconditioned!) Apple phone, laptop, pc and tablet.

      • I meant more about Win10 in general, free upgrade to the newer version is great in my opinion, especially if you’re still stuck on windows 8.
        As for the upgrade reminder thing, maybe it’s because I’m used to reading things but when I noticed on my spare laptop(running win8) that the Win10 upgrade window had changed, I actually read it and realised what was happening. Sure, it’s a shitty thing to do, but it only takes a second to pay attention.

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