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Microsoft’s push to Windows 10

Why is Microsoft so determined for customers to upgrade to Windows 10?

Microsoft’s ambitious goal, announced during the Build 2015 conference, is to have Windows 10 on over 1 billion devices two to three years after the official release of the operating system. To reach the goal in two years, Microsoft would have to push 1.369 million copies of Windows 10 on devices worldwide, and for the three year goal, it would still be 1.005 million copies each day. Getting Windows 10 onto one billion devices — roughly the same number as Apple has on iOS  — is tough. Windows is a computer operating system, not a phone operating system. This was great when PCs ruled, but that is no longer true. However, the PC market is still massive — around 270 million units per year — and Microsoft has a good chance of getting Windows 10 onto one billion devices. But to do it, the company had to make a compromise and give it away for free.

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It’s understandable that Microsoft would want to push Windows 10 as much as possible, particularly as the rate of upgrades has been slowing recently. It must be a source of frustration to the company that users of Windows 7 and 8.1 appear so reluctant to switch, even though the upgrade for them is free (until 31 July). In an effort to guide people on to Windows 10, Microsoft has been using increasingly aggressive methods, including pre-loading the installation files on to users’ systems, regardless of whether they want the new OS or not, and removing the option to opt-out of the upgrade. Microsoft Marketing Chief Chris Capossela made no apologies for his company’s approach which, he says, is being done to get users to a “safer place”. Sure, users can stay on Windows 7, if they wish, but according to Capossela, you do so “at your own risk, at your own peril”.

Capossela continues “Look, we made Windows 10 for free, for anybody who has a Windows 8 or 7 machine. You can call that freemium if you want, but that was a decision… you know we didn’t take that decision lightly. For us, it’s just so incredibly important to try to end the fragmentation of the Windows install base, and so we think every machine that is capable of running Windows 10 we should be doing everything we possibly can to get people to move to Windows 10. We always want to give them the choice, and we are trying to find the right UI constructs, we are trying to find the right update constructs that we think are going to please as many people as possible. But we do worry when people are running an operating system that’s 10 years old that the next printer they buy isn’t going to work well, or they buy a new game, they buy Fallout 4, a very popular game, and it doesn’t work on a bunch of older machines”.

It’s interesting to see Microsoft talking about protecting users and reducing fragmentation. While people refusing to budge from XP is definitely an issue, is there really a Windows fragmentation problem? Microsoft describes Windows 10 as a much better place than Windows 7, but that’s debatable. Users on Windows 7 aren’t in any more danger than those on Windows 10, provided they are sensible and have a decent security software installed, and all printers and new games — including Fallout 4 — will work perfectly on the older OS, both now, and in the future. If a PC can’t handle a new game, it’s a hardware upgrade rather than an OS one that’s going to fix the problem. Microsoft knows it’s annoying some people with its aggressive Windows 10 push, but it doesn’t really care. There’s a slight whiff of “we know better than you” about Capossela’s comments and while there are definitely some people out there who plan to upgrade but are procrastinating — or “kicking the can” as Capossela puts it — there are plenty of users who don’t want to switch because they are perfectly happy where they are, or because they don’t like what Windows 10 has to offer them. Maybe instead of trying to force users of older versions of Windows onto its new OS, Microsoft should take the time to figure out what it is about Windows 10 that’s keeping users away.

Microsoft is betting big on Windows 10, that it will be a success, and that its one operating system core to fit them all strategy will work out fine. If Windows 10 fails, Microsoft would be in a terrible position. It could produce Windows 11, even though it announced previously that there would be no such thing, and adjust it accordingly to make it more attractive to consumers and Enterprise customers. But since everything is entangled now thanks to the one core OS strategy, it would be difficult to change that course especially if time is of the essence. For Microsoft, Windows 10 must succeed, there is no other option, and that is one of the reasons why the operating system is pushed hard.

Microsoft uses malware tactics to foist Windows 10 on more PCs

You need to stop closing that Windows 10 pop-up to avoid upgrading, as Microsoft is doing its best to sneak the latest version of Windows onto your computer. There’s been another wave of unwanted Windows 10 upgrades this week, which always corresponds with a spike in emergency tech support calls from my friends who swear they’ve been vigilant in saying no to the Windows 10 upgrade yet it suddenly appeared on their computer. I have to reassure them they didn’t do anything wrong, Microsoft simply doesn’t care what they want and it’s doing whatever it takes to foist Windows 10 on everyone before the free upgrade expires on July 29. Its tactics come straight from the malware playbook, using deceptive pop-ups to trick people into installing software they clearly don’t want. People who have held out on the Windows 10 upgrade are all too familiar with the nagging pop-up notifications which keep pestering you to upgrade. There’s usually no opt-out button, instead you’re only given the frustrating choice to “Upgrade now” or “Start download, upgrade later” – a tactic which saw many people unwittingly upgrade their old computer to the newest version of Windows. If you’re determined to avoid Windows 10 you’ve simply closed that pop-up by clicking the little X in the top right corner, by now it’s probably second nature. This week Microsoft took advantage of this by changing the pop-up so that clicking the X to close it implies your consent to upgrade, tricking even more people into installing Windows 10 against their wishes. To avoid Windows 10 you now need to study that pop-up closely and use the “Click here to change the upgrade schedule or cancel scheduled upgrade”. This might change again – Microsoft clearly can’t be trusted – so if you’re determined to avoid Windows 10 then I’d recommend using the free Never10 tool to block it.

Microsoft might argue that the new-look pop-up is all about consumer choice, because technically it makes it easier to opt-out of Windows 10, but all the PR doublespeak in the world can’t change the fact that the software giant is deliberately tricking people with malware-style tactics. If any other business did this to you you’d walk away in disgust, but Microsoft knows it can treat people with contempt and generally get away with it. Thankfully there is still an option to decline Windows 10 during the installation process, plus there’s a 30-day rollback feature hidden away in Windows 10’s Recovery menu. This still doesn’t excuse Microsoft’s behaviour, further tarnishing a reputation it’s tried so hard to repair in the last few years.

Whether or not Windows 10 is worth the upgrade is beside the point, Microsoft shouldn’t be acting like a two-bit conman using sleight of hand to trick people into upgrading. Have you held off on Windows 10, or had it foisted on you against your will?

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