'Get Windows 10' prompt adopts malware-like tactics to lure you into upgrading

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Rob Schultz

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Do you want to download Windows 10 now or now? That’s the question I found myself faced with when I opened an irregularly used Windows 8.1 laptop last night.

Once a small box begging for a reservation in the corner of the screen, the “Get Windows 10” pop-up prompt has morphed to consume the majority of the display, and worse, it only presents users with two clear actionable buttons: Upgrade now, and Start download, upgrade later. There’s no immediate “No thanks” option whatsoever.

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.

The most annoying behavior has yet to come for people who have chosen to stay pat with Windows 7 or 8.1, however. In 2016, Microsoft plans to push the Windows 10 upgrade through as a Recommended update. If you use the default Windows Update option and automatically install all new Recommended updates (as most home users should), that means Windows 10 will start downloading to your PC once Microsoft flips that switch, rather than asking for your permission. Here’s what we said at the time:

“It’s a particularly raw deal for people who are on metered Internet connections. Windows 8.1 users aren’t in danger there, because that OS won’t automatically download updates over a metered connection. But Windows 7 users will have to turn off automatic downloads of all recommended updates in order to avoid downloading multiple gigabytes worth of operating system.”

Fortunately, Microsoft says you’ll “be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue” installing Windows 10 when that automatic download happens. Here’s hoping there will be a clear “No” option displayed when that happens, at least. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s greatest operating system yet, and a clear upgrade over Windows 8.1—I have it installed on most of my PCs—but strong-arming people with forced downloads and spammer-like no-choice wording on upgrade prompts won’t win Microsoft any fans.

Sick of staring at the update prompt every time you boot your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC? Here’s how to stop the Windows 10 update offer from appearing—at least until the day it’s pushed through as a Recommended update.

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