Last week, while reminiscing about the mystery patch KB 3035583 -- which, notably, includes the ability to nag Windows 7 and 8.1 systems about upgrading to Windows 10 -- I said, "Life would be so much simpler if Microsoft would tell us what it's trying to put on our PCs." It looks like Microsoft's listening.
Although it didn't address the nagware feature (ahem) of KB 3035583, it provided insight into what's happening with the "update that supports you to upgrade to a later version of Windows" -- patch KB 2990214 for Windows 7 and KB 3044374 for Windows 8.1.
The explanation comes from Windows product manager Joseph Conway, better known as joscon "The Windows Servicing Guy." Joscon posted details on TechNet about the Black Tuesday re-releases of KB 2990214 and KB 3044374. His announcement:
These WU [Windows Update] clients are used as part of the Windows 10 upgrade scenarios which will go live at release but are still used for down-level operating systems as the "regular" Windows Update client. This update is applicable to your systems even if you're not planning to migrate to Windows 10, so don't think you can skip it.
That came as news to me. The only information we'd had about either patch -- the original releases and subsequent re-releases -- came from the title of the KB articles, which avers to be an "update that supports you to upgrade to a later version of Windows."
Joscon goes on to explain:
>1. The update is applicable to everyone who is using either Win7SP1 or Win8.1 and their server variants
>2. If you aren't interested in upgrading to Windows 10, you don't have to but we've started adding some of the plumbing into this release that enables it for those who are
>3. For server-based operating systems, the update will not enable an upgrade to Windows 10
>4. For client-based operating systems, the update does have the plumbing for Windows 10 upgrade later if you're interested
>5. For all operating systems, there are improvements in the overall Windows Update client which is why it was released as Important
Commenter Canadian Tech hit the nail on the head with his first comment:
The issue is not that we do not want Windows 10. The problem is that we do not know if we want it and refuse to be stampeded into it on Microsoft's schedule. Like any product in the market (free or not) we will investigate, evaluate, and decide if it is what we want. It is critical that Microsoft realize that Windows 7 is the gold standard now. If Windows 10 has any shades of Windows 8 in it at all, Most people will reject it. That was a loser and if all you are doing is putting new lipstick on that pig, you can for get it.
In Windows 10's defense, from what I've seen, it's likely that most Win8 and 8.1 users will want to upgrade immediately. But given the fact that Windows XP still commands something like 25 percent usage and bearing in mind the disaster that was and is Windows 8, I don't think there's any chance in chicken fried hell that the whole Win7 world will want to move to Win10 en masse -- once burned, twice shy, and all that.
Advertising a major Windows Update engine upgrade as an "update that supports you to upgrade to a later version of Windows" is, rightfully, seen as Wile E. Coyote laying out birdseed for Road Runner.
Having gone over Joscon's explanations, I'm still left with some troubling questions.
Why should I install either KB unless/until I'm interested in upgrading to Windows 10? In other words, are the changes in these "important" patches beneficial to me or to Microsoft? If they're good for me, then what do they do?
How do these patches interact with/enable/support the obvious nagware cruft in KB 3035583?
Will Microsoft never learn that it's best to be straight with its customers up front? This is the kind of crap I would've expected under the previous regime. It's a disservice to those who are working hard to open up the Windows development process.
Transparency is good on the desktop and in the KB.