Around noon Pacific time on Tuesday, I started receiving notices from Windows 7 and 8.1 users that the old, dreaded Get Windows 10 patch KB 3035583 had returned. As of early Wednesday morning, neither the official Windows Update list nor the KB article itself mention a new release. It appears Microsoft simply shipped it out again and didn't bother to tell anybody.
No doubt you recall KB 3035583 -- a patch better described as adware, or a "potentially unwanted program." It first appeared last March, titled "Update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1." We didn't figure out until a week later that it was in fact dropping the Get Windows 10 (GWX) installation subsystem.
GWX has drawn nearly universal condemnation. It has a complex installer that puts hooks into various and sundry parts of Windows 7 and 8.1, all of which are designed to convince you to upgrade to Windows 10.
GWX has been associated with all manner of ills, including the following:
- Nagging and misleading upgrade messages (including one message that only listed "Upgrade now" or "Upgrade tonight" as options)
- Forced download of 3GB to 5GB of unwanted installation files
- Automatic launching of the upgrade program -- a "mistake," per Microsoft
- Scheduled tasks and trigger programs that won't go away even if you uninstall the patch.
Even the KB article that was supposed to explain how to bypass GWX's excesses was wrong, until research forced Microsoft to fix it. Of course, GWX doesn't give you an opportunity to simply say, "Go away and stop bothering me."
It looks like most Windows 7 and 8.1 Home and Pro PCs received the patch in Windows Update on Tuesday afternoon. (Enterprise didn't get it, as before.) Some systems have it listed among the Optional patches in Windows Update and others as Important -- with no clear reason for the distinction. The description of the patch (in the right pane if you click on the Windows Update entry) says it's a "Recommended Update."
For those who have the Windows Update settings box marked "Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates" unchecked, the entry in Windows Update appears italicized. (I always wondered what turned the WU entries italicized.)
I've seen only rare reports that the patch in Windows Update is "checked" -- that is, KB 3035583 will install for those who have "Install updates automatically (recommended)" or "Download updates but let me choose whether to install them" chosen as the Important updates installation option.
Josh Mayfield, the developer behind GWX Control Panel, wrote to me and said:
I installed it and didn't see any problematic differences. Still honors DisableGwx and didn't install any new background tasks. I did notice that the GWX "version" value changed from 5 to 6, but I'm not seeing any new symptoms/behaviors.
As I explained in January, running KB 3035583 creates a new GWX folder with five programs in it, and it starts seven processes in Task Scheduler. The DisableGWX entry only prevents the Get Windows 10 icon from appearing in the system folder; it doesn't disable GWX in any other way.
Uninstalling KB 3035583 doesn't uninstall the GWX subsystem, nor does it delete any files that Microsoft may have preloaded on your PC.
Then, as now, the only reasonable way to wipe out the Get Windows 10 subsystem is by running Mayfield's GWX Control Panel.
More stealthy programs dropped on paying customers' PCs -- how could anyone trust Microsoft after this GWX debacle?