As I wrote back in April:
Is the patch an unwanted intrusion or just a convenient way to let Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users upgrade to the (free) Windows 10? I guess that depends on your point of view. But it sure would've been nice if Microsoft had simply told us the truth, instead of sneaking another controversial come-on into its patch list.
Fast-forward five months and we're sitting in a cesspool of unwanted advertising. If only I had a nickel for every time I've been asked how to get rid of the lousy, unwanted pop-ups -- er, official Windows notifications.
At the heart of the problem lies a program called GWX, which is Microsoft shorthand for Get Windows X. You can root out all of the many tentacles of GWX and yank them from your system, as MVP Vishal Gupta describes on his AskVG site. Or you can simply ignore the boorish GWX program -- a solution I've recommended for some time.
Now there's another way. Yesterday Bogdan Popa at Softpedia published an article pointing to a nifty new utility called GWX Stopper. I had a chance to talk with Josh Mayfield, the guy who put together GWX Stopper, and came away impressed. Most of all, though, you have to understand that GWX Stopper won't solve all of your Windows 10 upgrade woes. Says Mayfield:
It doesn't do anything special; just uses GWX's own configuration settings to tell it to stop bothering people. The whole reason I wrote the thing was because I just wanted to provide some transparency where Microsoft wasn't. The tool tells you if GWX is installed and what state it's in, then lets you change that state as you desire.
Mayfield discovered a switch that GWX consults whenever it starts. One of the settings tells GWX to go back to sleep.
The goal here wasn't to break the GWX icon or prevent it from being installed on your PC, but to give users control over when it appears. I've tested it on numerous Win 7 and Win 8 computers, and it does achieve its goal - once you've used it to disable GWX, you no longer see the icon in your notification area or receive the pop-ups about Windows 10. But if you finally decide to go for Windows 10, you can use the program to re-enable the icon and go down the Win 10 rabbit hole. :)
It's very important you understand exactly what the program does and doesn't do. If you have the Windows 10 nag icon in your system tray and you're getting incessant notifications ("Are we there yet? Are we there yet?") about upgrading to Windows 10, GWX Stopper works like a one-click champ. On the other hand, if you've already reserved Windows 10 or you're to the point where Windows tells you that you have to install Win10, you will have to go through a complicated manual procedure to take back control.
Mayfield cautions that some unscrupulous folks are ripping off his software and offering it as their own, so be careful. Make sure you download the utility from Mayfield's Ultimate Outsider blog. It's free -- a great gift for anyone on your tech support list, as long as they haven't already clicked to reserve Windows 10.