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.
On a Windows 8.1 PC. Mostly full screen pop-up. No clear "No thanks" button, just download Windows 10 now or later. pic.twitter.com/RRoaFMST9r
— Brad Chacos (@BradChacos) December 11, 2015
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".
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:
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.