In the weeks since Windows 10 launched, the OS has been adopted at an unprecedented rate. Over 75 million customers reportedly installed it within 30 days of debut, and that number is sure to have risen in the last few weeks. Microsoft has never rolled out an operating system the way it has pushed 10 to the mass market, so some mistakes were inevitable. The company’s latest blunder? Downloading Windows 10 without asking.
According to the Inquirer, a user who had never “reserved” a copy of Windows 10 in the first place found a large 6GB download sitting in the $Windows.~BT hidden directory, and a series of failed “Upgrade to Windows 10″ tasks in Windows Update’s history. In several cases, the new OS has been downloaded over metered connections, forcing people over their bandwidth caps in the process. When the Inquirer reached out to Microsoft, the company said the following: “For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade.
“When the upgrade is ready, the customer will be prompted to install Windows 10 on the device.”
To prompt or not to prompt?
We at ET haven’t seen this behavior directly — I’m still on Windows 7 myself, and my Windows Update history shows no sign of repeated failed Windows 10 installs — but one of our staffers, David Cardinal, has had his own unusual experience with Windows 10. According to David, he left on a two-week trip with an HTPC box running Windows 8.1U and came back to find it running Windows 10. Windows Update was configured to install automatic updates, and Microsoft has flagged Windows 10 as an important update — so it’s at least theoretically possible that the box automatically installed the new operating system.
We’re still checking out whether this update was automatically triggered, but if it wasn’t, it’s another example of how Microsoft built a system that shoves you forward into new operating systems whether you like it not. As I mentioned above, I’m still using Windows 7. Every time I launch Internet Explorer, it defaults to loading MSN as a homepage. Every time it loads MSN, it slaps a giant banner ad for Windows 10 over the content.
Immediately after Windows 10 launched, the pop-up was injecting itself every single time I launched IE. Now, thankfully, it only launches after a reboot or if IE has been shut down for several days. IE11 isn’t my default browser, but I still use it for several tasks on a daily basis, and being barraged with notifications and updates that my upgrade to Windows 10 is ready has quickly become tiresome.
While I’ve written at length about the privacy and user control issues surrounding Windows 10, I still expect to upgrade to the operating system at some point in the not-too-distant future. Part of my delay is practical — I want to swap some hardware before I upgrade, and that necessitates a few extra steps in the process. I’m also waiting to see if MS amends certain policies around notifications and updates. For all that I want DX12, running a background download on a potentially metered connection and chewing into available storage space are both less-then friendly policies.