It's hard to imagine any marketing campaign worse than Microsoft's ongoing "Get Windows 10" debacle. Microsoft is pushing hard for Windows 7 and 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10, and the backlash from users has been vocal and very negative.
Paying Windows 7 and 8.1 customers have been subjected to:
- Surreptitious installation of a potentially unwanted program, GWX, starting way back in April
- Incessant nagging by a balloon notification in the system tray that "Your upgrade is ready"
- Forced download of 3GB to 5GB of unwanted installation files
- "Accidental" automatic launching of the upgrade program
Last week PC World's Brad Chacos detailed the evolution of the nagging GWX balloon notification into a full-fledged (and nearly full-screen) Get Windows 10 window with two options: "Upgrade now" and "Start download, upgrade later." Per Chacos:
To be fair, you can still simply close the window using the X in the upper-right corner, and if you click through the itty-bitty inconspicuous chevron on the right-edge of the window there may be a "Nope" prompt somewhere further down the line. (I closed the prompt before exploring the auxiliary pages.) But having the only two large, clearly actionable options on a pop-up page both lead to a Windows 10 download feels inherently icky—like Microsoft's trying to trick less-savvy computer users into downloading the operating system with tactics often used by spammers and malicious websites.
On Sunday, Microsoft's over-the-top pushiness (or is it hubris?) led the company to introduce a new Upgrade to Windows 10 dialog, shown in the screenshot. Windows 7 and 8.1 users who click on the Get Windows 10 icon in the system tray are now presented with two options: Upgrade now or Upgrade tonight. As you can see, there's no option to defer the upgrade, and no obvious way (short of the "X" in the upper-right corner) to dismiss the ad.
The fact that Microsoft introduced this "enhancement" on the weekend, shortly before the holidays, may have been a colossal mistake. Or it may have been a calculated maneuver to hit paying customers when they're least likely to have tech help at hand.
Whatever the motivation, the no-way-out offer reeks of desperation.
For those of you who take on the family go-to-geek mantle over the holidays, you're going to have your hands full. I bet you just can't wait until Microsoft makes the Windows 10 upgrade a Recommended update and ensnares everyone naïve enough to leave Windows Automatic Update turned on. When that time comes, the owner of the Win7 or 8.1 PC will only be able to stop the Win10 upgrade by refusing to accept the EULA. Tell me how many of your family members will have the gumption – or inclination -- to do so?
Deck the halls with poison ivy.
Protip: GWX Control Panel. Use it often, use it well.