Earlier this week, longtime PC guru Steve Gibson released a free application that blocks the Windows 10 upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 systems. Dubbed Never10, Gibson's product reaches into the registry and uses the blocks documented in Microsoft's Knowledge Base article 3080351 to "disable Windows' pestering insistence upon upgrading Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10."
I've written about Gibson's products and test sites in many of my books. He has a decades-long reputation for turning out reliable, solid, no-nonsense software. Mayfield knows the Get Windows 10 nagware inside out. Back in January, Mayfield analyzed the descriptions in KB 3080351 and found several errors in Microsoft's documentation, which Microsoft subsequently fixed.
I set up several VMs and tested the two products side by side. Here's what I found.
Never10 performs precisely as advertised: It's a simple program that allows you to turn the Windows 10 upgrade block settings on or off. If you click the Disable Win10 Upgrade button, the Windows 10 upgrade routine refuses to run, even if you manually try to run it. The Get Windows 10 routines that run behind the scenes stop running.
If you run Never10 and click the Enable Win10 Upgrade button, everything returns to normal. That means the Windows 10 installer will kick in during the next Windows Update run cycle and, if you start the installer (either click "Start the upgrade now" or click Accept on the "Great, we'll get the upgrade started" EULA notice), Windows 10 will end up on your system.
That's exactly what you would expect.
GWX Control Panel does all of that and goes the extra mile -- several miles, in fact. If you use it to turn off the Windows 10 installer's boorish behavior, GWX Control Panel will also detect and delete the 3GB to 5GB of hidden installation files, and it will delete the GWX subsystem Microsoft may have installed on your PC.
Also, if your Windows Update dialog box says "Upgrade to Windows 10," as shown in the screenshot, GWX Control Panel will revert the dialog to an everyday Windows Update dialog box. Never10 may or may not do that -- it's not clear to me under what circumstances it might happen.
Both programs have the ability to run once. GWX Control Panel also has the ability to remain running on your system; the Monitor Mode automatically catches any changes that Microsoft may have slipped in. Personally, I don't use Monitor Mode because I'd rather run crapware catchers manually.
It's also worth noting that you can go into the registry and flip the bits by hand or use Win7 Pro or 8.1 Pro's group policy editor to change them yourself. Details for doing that are in KB 3080351. None of that will clear out the 3GB to 5GB of hidden downloaded installation files, however.
(Update: Steve Gibson notes that the hidden installation files will disappear, if you turn off the Win10 update and leave the Get Windows 10 subsystem running. Apparently there's a data removal routine triggered by a scheduled app.)
The question everyone's now asking: Who's the winner?
That's easy: We all are.
By releasing a Get Windows 10 zapper, Gibson has put his seal of approval on a procedure that, in my opinion, every Windows 7 or 8.1 user should employ. The added publicity is a welcome bonus. Gibson is very much a force to be reckoned with.
As far as features, GWX Control Panel is clearly out ahead. But Never10 gets the job done and does it simply and well.
Most of all, now's the time for Windows 7 and 8.1 users to get their systems fixed so that they can upgrade to Windows 10 on their own schedule. Microsoft shouldn't be beating us with a stick, it should be showering us with carrots and convincing us that the upgrade to Win10 is worth the effort.
If you know someone who has a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC, it's time to let them in on the secret.