Win 10 Downloads Itself Whether You Want It To Or Not

Today in ‘things we wish Microsoft would ask really, really nicely about before they just went ahead and did it without telling us’, it’s Windows 7 & 8 quietly downloading Windows 10 for you, regardless of whether or not you intend to install it.

Fear not: it won’t begin the actual Windows 10 upgrade process unless you actively request that it do so. But it will download between 3.5GB and 6GB of data, which is bad news for anyone with a download cap, as well as leaving that data sat on your hard drive, which is bad news for anyone with a weeny-teeny SSD. Some ultralite laptops and hybrids have a mere 32GB capacity, so that’s going to sting.

The folder’s also hidden by default, which may leave the unaware flummoxed as to quite where all their space has gone. Go to Folder Options in Windows explorer (alt-f-o is a keyboard shortcut to it), view, then select ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders’ and you should then spot a ‘$Windows.~BT’ folder hanging around the root directory of your main hard drive.

This isn’t happening merely to people who chose the ‘reserve Windows 10 update’ – it’s for anyone using Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 who has automatic updates turned on. The only way to dodge it, for now, is to turn automatic updates off in Windows Update and select whatever you want manually, though that potentially introduces security risks if you don’t do it regularly.

While Microsoft have pretty much kept mum regarding Windows 10’s privacy concerns – which partly explains why so much online opinion is polarised between the equally hysterical ‘they’re reading all my sexy emails and uploaading my browser history to the feds!’ and ‘anyone who expresses even the faintest concern is a tinfoil hat-wearing lunatic’ – they have broken cover to address this particular issue.

Responding to queries from The Inquirer who broke this story, they issued this statement: “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.”

Which is similar ‘hey, we’re only trying to help’ language to that used around targeted ads and Cortana’s ‘tailored’ browsing suggestions. Maybe this is simply happening because Microsoft want the Windows 10 update to be as quick and smooth as possible for anyone who does go for it, but at the same time clearly it’s very much in their interest to encourage as many people to upgrade to their new shiny thing as possible. ‘X million people use Windows 10’ is a powerful marketing line to throw at anyone flicking through the Argos catalogue and wondering whether to buy a Windows laptop or a Macbook.

Windows 10 is pretty good. It feels more modern than Windows 7 and far, far more coherent than Windows 8. I’d still maintain that it’s worth the upgrade, at least for as long as it’s free, and so long as you can do it on your own terms. I still don’t know entirely how seriously to take the privacy issues, but stuff like this just makes me sigh. I’m prepared to ascribe it to over-enthusiasm, but it’s a shame that a good OS keeps raining on its own parade.

132 Comments

  1. DanMan says:

    Bastards. I’ll stick with Win7 until I see fit.

    • subedii says:

      Doesn’t help. They’re quite literally backporting the telemetry stuff to W7 and W8. If it’s something you wanted to avoid well, I guess MS is basically saying “tough”.

      • FreeTom says:

        Yikes, thanks for the heads up.

        EVERYONE!
        Run services.msc and disable ‘Diagnostics tracking service’

        • WiggumEsquilax says:

          Is this all that’s required? Thanks for that.

          Looks like no Windows 10 for me!

          • golem09 says:

            Why? It was just stated that there is no difference.

          • WiggumEsquilax says:

            Because I’ll be damned if I pay Microsoft to spy on me.

          • Premium User Badge

            Phasma Felis says:

            If you install it now, you won’t be paying them, you’ll be getting it free.

        • Armadillo says:

          I’ve only got a ‘Diagnostic Policy Service’ and it’s subsidiaries – does this mean I’m alright?

          • Horg says:

            Yes. The Diagnostic Tracking Service is installed by update KB3022345 and is separate from the policy service.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Telemetry by itself isn’t bad if they’re only looking at OS-specific data. I’m not sure how far this data goes, but I suppose opting out of the CEIP and even disabling the diagnostic service is an option.

        Some of the telemetry updates also contain patches and security fixes.

      • LionsPhil says:

        This can be filtered out by manually consulting the update list and hiding them.

        Yes, it sucks that you have to. It sucks even more that MS are giving people good reasons to not just merrily install everything, and thus encouraging them to miss out on actual security updates.

        What’s missing from this article is the KB number for the “sneaky Windows 10 download” update, unless it’s the same-old-same-old one that does the nagware.

        • subedii says:

          From reading around, some of the updates still try to install regardless, even if you hide them.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Currently angry enough I think W7 will be my last Windows because of this. And as subedii says they’re backporting the spyware to W7 and 8 as well which is apparently also a bandwidth hog. Got to hand it to MS I didn’t think that they could they could find worse leadership than Ballmer, or that they could get me looking at other OSs after I’d used them since the DOS days.

      • subedii says:

        This whole kerfuffle did in fact lead me to dual booting Mint.

        Honestly? It’s been relatively painless. I mean I don’t recommend everyone does it (for most things I’m finding it pretty freaking intuitive, but there are exceptions), but if you’re looking for alternatives, there are viable ones out there.

        Most of my gaming these days has been indie titles, so in that regard, little actually changes (I mean I’m running through Satellite Reign right now). What surprised me though is the number of major studios porting to Linux now (often late, but eh…). The only upcoming game I was really looking forward to was XCOM 2, and that’s releasing on Linux as well.

        If your primary gaming is done with games from only the major blockbuster publishers like EA, then you might find it frustrating. But so far it’s quickly become my primary partition. I pretty much do all my work and browsing on here now, and whatever of my favourite games didn’t have Linux ports seem to run fine in Wine.

        I’ll say freely though I’ve probably got a higher tolerance for inconveniences and occasionally hunting around for an answer. I guess it’s a holdover from my DOS days.

        • Devan says:

          Yep. I’ve been dual-booted with Mint for years and my wife has it as the only OS. The experience has only gotten better. Terraria recently ported to Linux and the number of compatible games on steam continues to grow.
          Importantly for me as a developer, Unity 3D also has released their first experimental Linux version of their editor software. It still needs work but is coming along nicely.
          My main game is League of Legends, which I haven’t had success getting working through Play On Linux. Though I’m hoping it’ll be more robust when they release their new client.
          Anyway for anyone considering Windows alternatives, I’d recommend Mint as the distro to try first.

      • FreeTom says:

        Yep, right there with you. I would have switched years ago were it not for the woeful lack of decent games available. Now there’s a (not even beta) Linux Steam client I’m only clinging on this long out of a sense of, “I paid for this Windows licence so I’m damn well going to use it.”

      • 7vincent7black7 says:

        I wholeheartedly recommend Zorin OS Linux. Particularly Zorin OS 9 or 10. I got the Ultimate Edition of 9. 10 is the newer OS and is a bit fancier, but last I checked, they set the future support for Zorin OS 9 good until some time into 2016, and gave zorin os 10 support a much shorter lifespan. Don’t know if tehy changed that, but whatever one you choose will be a solid operating system.

        Reason why Zorin is a great beginner to linux distro:
        The look changer allows you to change your desktop and interface to one of four options, depending on what you are comfortable with. You can change it to Windows 7, Unix, Ubuntu, and Mac. :D its a powerful, pretty-looking, and user friend foray into the linux world for anyone who has never used a linux os before. And its really inexpensive!

        • Premium User Badge

          Don Reba says:

          Sounds rather like a car salesman’s pitch.

          And its really inexpensive!

          Sales pitch for freemium software.

        • Premium User Badge

          Don Reba says:

          Apparently, it’s an OS made by one person and named after him. And, judging by the same bad English on the website and in your post, I presume you are Artyom Zorin himself.

  2. 4jjiyoon says:

    i’m not even getting the update for windows 10 at all on my legit windows 7 machine. guess microsoft don’t even want me to have it.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Same here. I never received the notification, nor do I have any update waiting for me in Windows Update that would correspond to what’s mentioned in the article above.

      • Premium User Badge

        Grizzly says:

        You can use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool and use the “Upgrade this PC” option, and that launches the upgrade process in the same way as doing it via Windows Update would.

      • Doubler says:

        Same here. Proper, legal install of windows 7. Automatic updates on. All updates installed. Never got the option to reserve, or upgrade, or a hidden file with windows install files.

    • baozi says:

      Had to download and run an unofficial script tool thingy from an official Microsoft forum to get the reservation notice to appear. Haven’t bookmarked it though, sorry.

    • Vandelay says:

      Another one reporting in here too. Although, my legit copy is more accurately “legit”. It is Win 7 upgrade version copy that I got cheap through Uni, but I’m no longer using the comp that it was originally bought for. You can very easily install an upgrade version of Windows onto any computer, regardless of whether you have an older version on there or not. You will then be in a 30 day trial period, which will expire if you do not enter a registration code. Bizarrely, Microsoft have this trial period as simple registry entry though, and it is a fairly quick process to switch it off, requiring a little use of command prompt and changing a figure in regedit.

      Don’t know if that has effected my ability to upgrade or not, but I have had zero notifications and don’t seem to have this mystery folder appear on my hard drive either.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      For some reason the tool needs IE11 installed before it will appear. If like me you did not get that update (because you only use IE to download Chrome) then it won’t work even if you have the tool installed…

  3. Arglebargle says:

    I never, ever let Windows update have free roam. After a couple of critical crashes caused by automatic update deciding it absolutely needed to kick in at just the worst time, it has been permanently disabled on all my machines.

    It’s a shame that the so-called security threats are less problematic than the shenanigans of the OS itself.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I just ask it to notify before downloading, so I can screen the updates. Been fine for years.

  4. subedii says:

    From reading the slashdot thread, some people are reporting that it is trying to install itself for them once downloaded.

    • AngusPrune says:

      Yep, that happens. I had to hack the registry to make it stop trying. I still have no idea how to get rid of half the data it keeps permanently locked. I’m starting to wonder how much I trust Linux’s NTFS support to go in and just nuke it.

  5. Crusoe says:

    I’ve had this problem, and currently even when I turn off the auto download and install of windows 10, it still begins to download when I try and update my current OS, win7. Which yeah, could be leaving me vunerable? At this rate, I’ll update to win 10 out of fear. Not great.

  6. ScubaMonster says:

    I don’t have automatic updates turned on, but I also don’t see any update waiting for me in either recommended or optional updates. All I had were security updates and a new driver for my GPU (which I download directly from Nvidia, I never do it through Windows Update). So apparently not everybody is getting this. Then again, I also never received any notification informing me about Windows 10 period.

    • Zack Wester says:

      Just a head up the kb3035583 update is written as a regular security update on the windows update only if you press more info(takes you to this page (link to support.microsoft.com) it will start to mention windows 10.

      this is what it says on the winupdate system the thing most probably will read.
      ((this is a swedish so pardon that)).
      ————————————————————-
      Uppdatering för Windows 7 för x64-baserade system (KB3035583)
      (upgrade for windows 8)

      Hämtningsstorlek: 664 kB – 763 kB
      (download size)

      Datorn kanske måste startas om för att den här uppdateringen ska börja gälla.
      (computer might need to reboot for this update to complete)

      Uppdateringens typ: Rekommenderas
      (update type: Recommended)

      Installera den här uppdateringen för att lösa problem i Windows. En fullständig lista över de problem som åtgärdas i den här uppdateringen finns i den relaterade Microsoft Knowledge Base-artikeln. När du har installerat uppdateringen måste du kanske starta om datorn.

      (Install this update to solve problems in windows, a complete list of the problem/fixed in this update can be found in the related Microsoft Knowledge Base-article)

      Mer information: ((more info))
      link to support.microsoft.com ((this will mention win 10))

      Hjälp och support:
      http://support.microsoft.com
      ————————————————————-
      as you can see not a word about win 10. in fact this is written like a regular security issue.

  7. draglikepull says:

    Using gigabytes of peoples’ bandwidth without their permission (or, in all likelihood, their knowledge) is a really shitty thing to do. Lots of us have bandwidth limits each month. I also hate when game developers on Steam decide that since you own a base game, they’re going to download a multi-gigabyte expansion for the game onto your machine even when you haven’t bought it. That bandwidth is mine, not Microsoft’s or Square Enix’s to lay claim to.

    • Richard_from_Winnipeg says:

      Are you talking about the auto-updates that happen or the automatic download of game expansions?

      I know that Endless Legends updates itself when expansions drop even though I don’t own them but I also know there’s an option in steam where I disable these updates. Are you speaking about something else?

      • draglikepull says:

        Auto-updates are good. I’m talking about games like Sleeping Dogs that load full expansions onto your machine without your permission even if you haven’t purchased the expansion.

  8. Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

    I spotted this last night.. A virus scan couldn’t read certain files, turns out they were win10 files.
    @4jjiyoon I’m getting win10 despite having a hooky win7 install..

  9. mrwonko says:

    Meanwhile I’m still waiting for Microsoft to deem my PC ready for an upgrade.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Me too. Of course, I’d still hold out as long as possible even once I got the notice, but I want the foot-dragging to be mine, not Microsoft’s.

  10. Kefren says:

    Just checked – I’m okay, Windows updates turned off, Windows 7 hasn’t been updated since 2013. I knew my paranoia would save me one day. :-)

    • subedii says:

      That in itself carries its own pretty significant risks.

      • GiantPotato says:

        You know, it really does. But if my copy of Windows 7 gets a virus then I can fix it without having to deal with every roadblock that MS can think of putting in my way. Whereas with Windows 10 I would have to reinstall the whole OS to get rid of it.

        • Premium User Badge

          Phasma Felis says:

          Holy shit, man. I bet you’re thinking that the risk is “get a virus that maybe slows things down and shows me ads ’til I fix it.” You need to be thinking in terms of “my computer gets completely owned, all my passwords stolen, and then maybe my drive gets wiped, or locked down by ransomware.” It is wildly unsafe to run any OS with an internet connection without getting security updates.

          • Praetor says:

            Oh, it can get a lot worse than that. You PC could end up as a file server for kiddie porn. That’s always fun to try and explain when the FBI knocks on your door.

          • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

            Somehow I think the password/identity thieves looking for vulnerable software are not looking to target a bunch of neckbeards like us. It’s a bit of a risk to be thieving in the first place, and I don’t think your or my eBay/RPS passwords are really gonna be worth the payout.

          • Asurmen says:

            But your bank account/PayPal passwords are somewhat more tempting.

    • Martel says:

      Hopefully you mean you’re still installing all security updates otherwise you need to remove that thing from the internet completely….

      • Kefren says:

        No, I think it’s all just turned off totally. I think I had problems with an update I didn’t want messing things up once so I turned it off then. What the main risk? Just curious, since I avoid dodgy websites, have Sophos anti-virus, and only install software that is legit (GIMP, GOG games etc).

        • KesMonkey says:

          “Just curious, since I avoid dodgy websites, have Sophos anti-virus, and only install software that is legit (GIMP, GOG games etc).”

          That reduces the risk slightly, but it’s far from enough. Your machine is still vulnerable to hackers.

          • Seth_Keta says:

            The whole disconnect here is that your machine is never safe from hackers. If Mel, a hacker, wants to get into your system and he is skilled enough, no amount of updates will prevent him from doing so. It’s like the locks on the front door of your house. They’re only there to keep the honest people out.

          • K_Sezegedin says:

            Yeah it goes without saying that if a hacker is targeting your system specifically they’ll get in regardless of your update status. But securing yourself against internet exposure is a bit different than locking your front door and expecting it to keep out a determined intruder.

            But if we were to use the analogy, imagine someone lazily trolling the neighborhood trying every doorknob until it finds an unlocked one. That’s what typical malware does online constantly and tirelessly, and the likelihood of picking up something nasty is very real if this dude isn’t doing his due diligence and downloading security updates.

        • Person of Interest says:

          There are hundreds of vulnerabilities that have been patched in the last two years. Things like maliciously crafted font files or images that, as soon as they’re loaded in your browser, allow an attacker to run their malware on your computer. You aren’t safe from things like that simply because you know not to type “dodgy-site.com” into your browser: they can be embedded in emails, PDF’s, ad banners, or even here in the comments section of this very site!

          If nothing else, you should at least accept the Windows updates that have “security” in their title. None of the telemetry updates are marked as security fixes.

          • Nixitur says:

            Thing is, according to Zack Wester, the update that downloads Windows 10 (KB-3035583), is listed as a security update in Windows Update, but only as a recommended update.
            What I do instead is install only the important updates, never the recommended ones. I’m not sure if that’s extremely unsafe, but actual security updates are generally tagged as “important”.

    • KesMonkey says:

      “Windows 7 hasn’t been updated since 2013”

      Then your machine is extremely vulnerable. For all you know, your machine is part of a botnet. Your machine could be taking part in illegal attacks, sending out spam to millions of people, or distributing illegal material without your knowledge. You really should install every security update.

      • Borsook says:

        But it’s running twice as fast, win7 got very slow due to updates. Also – actually there are no reliable statistics on how risky this kind behaviour is.

        • Praetor says:

          It might not be the updates that causing issue, it could be compatiblity with old drivers (bet you haven’t updated those either) or even malware blocking the updates that could stymie them.

          Do a clean install of Windows, put up your firewall, get all the updates, and then reinstall everything else.

      • Baranor says:

        Whilst security leaks are leaks, a good router firewall and additional software for protection greatly reduce the risk .

  11. damaki says:

    I do not understand how Microsoft community managers can be so quiet these days. Where is the damn damage control? Are they not aware that bad publicity can positively damage their Windows 10 as a service forever and ever plan?
    This does not make any sense.

    What does not make anymore sense to me, is that I have bought a retail copy of Windows 10 Pro (to keep preciously my Windows 7 licence) and it is actually pretty good. Please Microsoft, stop doing your 90s-like show of showing your muscles and shoving stuff down people throat. The world has changed and you are not king of the world of computing anymore.

    • pepperfez says:

      Why should they care? Of the people upset about this (a relatively tiny number to begin with), most will keep using Win10 for work/games/whatever lock-in features there are. A few will actually switch to Linux, but they were going to regardless of anything MSoft says.
      And none will be enterprise clients, because they aren’t doing this shit to enterprise clients. So no problems! Just ignore it and soon enough it’ll be business as usual.

      • subedii says:

        I actually would have stuck with Windows if they hadn’t pulled all of this, largely because of DX12.

        At it stands though, they did, I’m typing this in Mint, and holding out for the Vulkan API.

  12. eldwl says:

    According to this article on Ars Technica, you can uninstall one specific update to make this stop happening:

    link to arstechnica.co.uk

  13. Asami says:

    I’m one of at least a few who installed Windows 10 right away, lived with it for a bit, and then went back to Windows 8.1.

    Windows 10 wasn’t particularly bad, but there were a few little bugs/issues which just continually pestered me, and that sinking feeling of being watched just sealed the deal. Windows 8.1 with Start8 & ModernMix is just more comfy for me.

  14. ansionnach says:

    I’m on a download cap and that’d take quite a bit of it. Turned off automatic updates when I capped the internet. Recently went through all non-security updates that went on when I let it do what it liked. Most of them were bug fixes, time zone or currency changes or some sort of improvement. There were a few unnecessary ones, particularly if you don’t want windows 10 (7 is supported to 2020, will change to something newer then). Here they are:

    Possible(?) privacy concern:

    KB3075249 – Adds telemetry to UAC (user account control) in win 7 & 8, sending back information on privilege elvations. I’ve UAC off and nothing bad happened. Would leave it on on any computer that may suffer a lot from user errors (have computer illiterates using it).
    link to support.microsoft.com

    KB3080149 – Updates Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices.
    link to support.microsoft.com

    KB3068708 – Adds Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices.
    link to support.microsoft.com

    KB2952664 – Updates telemetry to give MS info to help them with Windows 10
    link to support.microsoft.com

    KB3021917 – Analyses if win7 SP1 has caused performance issues, sends telemetry to MS if computer is in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program. Mentions that information will also help MS’s partners.
    link to support.microsoft.com

    KB3022345 – More telemetry bullshit
    link to support.microsoft.com

    Win10 Upgrade-related:

    KB2990214 – Let’s you upgrade to win10
    link to support.microsoft.com

    KB3035583 – Annoying get Windows 10 upgrade nag
    link to support.microsoft.com

    Of the above, I’ve had to uninstall KB2592664 four times so far. That’s even though I hid it in windows update after removing it the first time. Noticed it was still there when I found Wicainventory.exe causing my PC to crank up the fan as it was eating a small but noticeable amount of CPU cycles. Given its name (“wica…”), I initially suspected a virus but it’s just telemetry nonsense. Maybe some of these things are nothing to be concerned about but anything that gobbles up resources is shown the door. It was only three or four percent of CPU, but I’ve got quite a nice CPU… and seeing as I don’t want it to run anyway, it using more than nothing is a problem.

    • ansionnach says:

      Checked just in case and I didn’t get this update. Again, I had automatic updates off. If I hadn’t that’d be my internetting done for the month.

      Beware the experts,
      They’re everywhere!
      Warning of doom and gloom
      If you don’t follow their stay-safe dogma!
      Taking charge of your PC’s security
      Is far more important than their commandments…
      …from the book of Chicken Licken!

  15. ElDopa says:

    Pardon my language, but what the fuck is wrong with everybody?

    Recommending upgrading to Windows 10 at the end of an article like this is grotesque to say the least.

    It’s like Microsoft is your boyfriend who is hitting you up but you’re not taking the situation seriously at all, because he’s got such good sides. People say he has STDs, but you don’t really want to know.

    I know you think you won’t ever find a better boyfriend than Microsoft, but trust me, you can do better than that.

    Remember when Microsoft announced they wanted to abuse people by having an always online Kinect connected to the XBONE and the internet went crazy?
    They very quickly changed their plans after that.
    Now, they’re doing the exact same fucking thing, only that they’re saying “just the tip…” and you’re like “okay…”

    And where do you think this is going to lead to if everybody just accepts this behaviour?
    The other big companies can’t afford to treat their users with greater dignity if they want to compete with Microsoft in the long run, so they’ll adopt similar measures soon.

    But apparently this is how most people want things to be.

    • slerbal says:

      I was wondering that too. Talk about mixed messages…

    • Unclepauly says:

      I’ve always welcomed our overlords with open ports.

    • Andrew says:

      This.

      I don’t want to fight with OS I own for control over OS and PC I own.

      Only problem is, quick check on Steam shows (in my region only, obv.):

      Linux: 1480 games
      Mac OS: 2278 games
      Windows: 6259 games

      No competition. So, 7 for now, and then… Sad possibility: maybe PC gaming is going to die. For me. And then bye-bye RPS.

    • The_invalid says:

      And Linux is like that sweaty neckbeard with poor social skills, who self-describes as a ‘really nice guy’ and moans about why other OSs get all the users when he’s the one who’ll finally respect their privacy. He knows you’re taken by Microsoft, but still makes asides that you should ditch that jerk and go with him.

      Eventually, you get weary of Microsoft, and run away to have an affair with Linux, only to discover he’s a complete manchild who throws a tantrum when it turns out you don’t even know how to sudo apt-get. He’s also strangely obsessed with UFOs and anime.

      Several years later you settle down with OSX, who is handsome and has a lot of money, but is emotionally distant and not a particularly good lover. Ah well, at least he’s the stable type.

      • Valkyr says:

        That, sir, was beautiful.

      • ansionnach says:

        In my wanderings I’ve found that MS will always have you back. Years ago you had to compile Ogle yourself with some code that fell off the internet just to play DVDs on Linux. Not a nightmare but there were actual errors in the code (not warnings), which needed fixing first. This obviously isn’t a problem now but Linux lacking critical mass means that problems like this persist. Games are also an issue in spite of MS trying to drive us away (no DOS support, no 16-bit support and increasingly poor win9x support… one of these days it’ll cut its nose off in spite of its face).

        OSX? I’ve avoided it but once fixed a laptop that wouldn’t connect to my network because I’d deliberately set it up with non-standard IP addresses and disabled DHCP. There was no way to get it to work without resorting to the console. Probably a problem not many others would have encountered.

        Essentially all the main OSes do the job and can do it really well. They’re all quite stable but all suffer from security flaws at different times (last few years hasn’t been great for Linux or OSX). MS seems quite reliable at getting the fixes out, probably due to its history of being overwhelmingly the primary target in the days up to the end of XP. Windows is still where the games are. When this changes I’ll probably make a move. Don’t like the OSX interface though, so I’d prefer it be Linux or something else entirely.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Microsoft is an okay guy, the days he remember to take his meds.
        The other days though.. More and more neighbors’ cats goes missing.

    • ansionnach says:

      Are you serious? What’s wrong with advising people on the download and then recommending the update if that’s how they feel about it? I’m not prone to insulting people but if I had a mind to I might make an exception for this kind of wildly unhelpful and inaccurate post. Whatever about your opinions attacking the man just isn’t on.

      As far as I’m concerned taking issue with what MS gets wrong (or is of some concern) while not being afraid to give them the thumbs up when they do a good job makes perfect sense.

      • ElDopa says:

        My post is only unhelpful to those trying to avoid cognitive dissonance.

        I’m merely shocked how this article handles this topic, and by the fact that barely anyone seems to bother.
        is not an informed statement of something that could be easily researched.

        This encourages people to stay unconcerned about what Microsoft is doing, as it severly downplays how serious this issue is.

        Of course it’s nice that if a company is setting up a surveillance system in your home, you at least don’t have to pay them for setting it up – but that is no reason you should agree on letting them do so in the first place.

        How can it be that people are discussing functionality, speed or brand when it comes to software that openly disrespects your human rights to such an extent?

        I’m just worried about the fact that so many people are willing to accept an operating system like this as a standard.
        Is that really what everyone wants?

        • ansionnach says:

          Nah. I’d say you went more on a solo run with an over-wrought analogy about STDs that isn’t at all like this. In the case of the Kinect you had to pay for the privilege. It also jumps straight in with an insult, which I generally consider means there’s no point in even discussing a topic with someone.

          Haven’t used Windows 10 myself and won’t be changing OS until at least 2020 (when updates for 7 stop). Can’t say what I’ll move on to then… but certainly from what I’ve heard about Windows 10 it sounds like what Alec says is in the realms of reasonable. A lot of people like Windows 10. Kick up enough fuss about the issues it has and MS will fix them. They have a long track record of doing this. Other than perhaps Windows Millenium, I think XP must have had one of the most disastrous beginnings… but they fixed it in the end. Vista wasn’t anywhere near as bad (but was still a pain). They’ve fixed that up too and it runs quite well once it’s fully up-to-date. I’d expect that like the Kinect problem, MS will listen to people’s concerns… and if they don’t then it’s their funeral. For the average user who doesn’t care about these things it’s at least an extra few free years on their Windows 7 or 8 licence (five for 7 users and two for 8 users). The big question I have (which they haven’t answered) is whether they plan to start charging a subscription for 10 before windows 7 and 8 support runs out (in 2020 and 2023 respectively)?

  16. Freud says:

    We are the Microsoft. Resistance is futile.

  17. SuicideKing says:

    I was afraid that they’d go down this route when they put a “cloud” guy in charge. I hope people realise why so many of us were so cynical regarding all this SaaS and “free” Windows 10.

  18. Martel says:

    What we need is a tool that looks at our Steam library (or a list of games) and tells me what has a linux version or not. I have been dealing a lot with Microsoft lately in the corporate environment and they are doing everything they can to drive me into other vendors’ arms.

    • subedii says:

      I don’t know how to do it in Windows, but when logging into Steam from Linux the first option in your Library tab is “SteamOS + Linux”, which tells you how many games are Linux native and just shows them.

  19. kud13 says:

    Hmm, note to self: turn off auto-updates for good. After checking if I installed any telemetry crap.

    It’s rather annoying how marketing feels they can just tell people what they want. But then again, consumerism is built on this, so I guess M$oft is just trying to stay ahead of the game.

    In unrelated news: my 5-year old Win 7 laptop recently suffered a “fatal corruption”, leaving me to lose my sound drivers. I was unable to run a full scan, since the “corruption” apparently killed the utoscheduler.exe – the little util responsible for running disk check on startup.

    When I tried to do repair restore I couldn’t, since my lappy was running Win 7 ultimate (which I think I got as a “free upgrade” from a CompSci major friend in Uni) while my gaming desktop had a mere Win 7 home premium.
    Then I tried to do a factory restore, and ran into an error loop. Eventually, I did a clean install, losing my recovery partition, as well as a few proprietory drivers. Still haven’t had the time to finish fixing it up properly.

    The cynic in me can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t M$oft attempting to suggest to me it’s time to upgrade, since the “corruption” came totally out of the blue (it’s my work laptop. I keep it offline 95% of the time, doing word processing and playing music).

  20. geldonyetich says:

    Resistance is futile, you will be patched.

  21. Wandris says:

    What we need is a robust program that can monitor and subvert all the crap MS sneaks into windows.

  22. sebagul says:

    Bad news. Even if you disable updates, stop and disable Windows 7 update service, it downloads anyway, and also installs the telemetry updates.

    Check you folder C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution

    There are the offending downloads.

    I just quarantined all Windows update files using my antivirus.

  23. FunnyB says:

    Did anyone else get that Windows 7 tried to install the upgrade on its own at shutdown?

    A couple of days ago I noticed I had an update pending shutdown. So, I actually booted Windows Update to check what it was.

    1 critical update. Upgrade to Windows 10.

    What the beep Microsoft????? What happened to “Choose whenever you want to upgrade”???

  24. Jedi21 says:

    “I still don’t know entirely how seriously to take the privacy issues” WTF?!? You talk as it’s an urban legend when it’s all in Win10 ToS, have you at least read them?? How can you “still reccommend” such a bigbrotherish spyware posing as a “free OS” is beyond me..

    • Asurmen says:

      Because 2 reasons: One, a lot of the privacy issues can be turned off, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were either A) bad to begin with or B) what if they were really bad AND there’s stuff they haven’t told us about. It could swing both ways.

      Second reason is just because it’s in the ToS doesn’t mean it’s going to be used for nefarious reasons all the time on everyone who has agreed to the ToS.

      The point being is that some people will instantly not use it because of these issues, some people want more data and others don’t care at all.

  25. Devan says:

    I think this helps highlight why the idea of “software freedom” is about a lot more than just money. Computer software (and hardware) should always operate in service of the owner, first and foremost. If you computer is doing something outside of what it genuinely needs to do in order to provide the functionality you want from it, then something is probably wrong. If it’s consuming your resources, collecting or sharing your information, or attempting to influence your habits then it needs to be with your fully informed consent.
    I know they spin it as being for the benefit of consumers, but if it’s breaking the principles above then that’s an empty justification. It would be just as beneficial if they made this pre-download opt-in. The same thing goes for all of their personal data collection and built-in suggestion engine.

    We’re on a slippery slope where developers and manufacturers continue to push the envelope in terms of the amount of control they take over the end users’ computing experience and interactions. It doesn’t help that most of the user base is unaware of what is happening or why it is important. Another segment of users are knowledgeable of the situation yet apathetic.
    It’s up to us as consumers to push back on this by letting the developers and manufacturers know that it matters to us and demonstrating a commitment to choosing more-free (libre) options over less-free ones.

    • subedii says:

      We’re on a slippery slope where developers and manufacturers continue to push the envelope in terms of the amount of control they take over the end users’ computing experience and interactions.

      We’re well past slippery slope by now. I don’t think MS has ever been as, well, flagrant as they have been with W10. They’re pretty definitively stating that they should control the decisions regarding your PC first, you second.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      But people are giving informed consent to this and then complaining.

      When you install Windows it gives you a brief synopsis of what the Express Settings switch on and then gives you the option of manually selecting your preferences.

      When Windows Update first gets setup it tells you what each option entails and then lets you select your preference.

      We should be at the stage where journalists are challenging the people complaining and not just “reporting” it for hits.

      Why did they not change WU to not automatically download and install updates?
      If they are on a metered/capped connection why didn’t they switch that setting on?
      Given the various opportunities Microsoft gives you to customise your system why are you complaining about its express settings behaviour?

      • subedii says:

        But people are giving informed consent to this and then complaining.

        I am going to disagree with that SO freaking hard. MS has very definitively been acting in bad faith throughout this entire thing. At which point “informed consent” becomes very hard to justify.

        To begin with they have acted very hard to deliberately obfuscate what settings they do allow. Even from the first install, the option to customise the install is a line of text deliberately placed under another block of text in the same font as it and kept well away from the other two option buttons on the other side of the screen.

        Second screenshot if you want to dispute this:
        link to theregister.co.uk

        That is not being honest and upfront, it is deliberate obfuscation.

        The security and privacy settings necessary to disable, do not actually allow the user to fully disable. And are also deliberately set out across thirteen (really, more) separate screens to filter out, leaving aside firewall, HOSTS file (which MS is actually circumventing for some of the telemetry) and regedit and gpedit.msc editing and other shenanigans to properly turn off the rest.

        Rockpapershotgun has their own specific post on that (so you can search for it if you like, putting too many links in a post causes issues).

        Again, that is not being honest and upfront, it is deliberate obfuscation and I’ve got not trouble describing the intent of such behaviour as being a fig leaf rather than user concern, particularly when everything is opted in automatically. Saying “oh well, the user was consenting” is basically Hitchikers Guide “Beware of the Leopard” logic.

        The the installation has been proven now to send the information back, regardless of what your settings are.

        Article in case you want to dispute this:
        link to arstechnica.co.uk

        This all leaves aside the fact that despite all its proponents protestations that this stuff is necessary for W10 to function, Microsoft has now backported it to Windows 7 and 8 (which going by the slashdot thread, is also being included regardless even if your CEI is switched off).

        And now all of that before you get to this latest issue of MS using the update system to send an entire OS down pipes (and maintaining that this is the user’s fault for not anticipating this?) regardless.

        You can say it’s all the users fault all you want. Frankly, MS’s behaviour has been deliberately and consistently obtuse, opaque anti-consumer in regards to privacy.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          And as per your screenshot from The Register its a page dedicated to saying what the Express Settings switch on, even mentioning the likes of the advertising ID. The option to select them is even called “Use Express Settings”. Microsoft is informing you what you are agreeing to if you click on the “Use Express Setting” button. That is informed consent.

          • subedii says:

            Interesting that you don’t address the fact that they segregated it out and specifically did not cast it as a button like the other two options available. As I said, deliberate obfuscation. To the point that (you also do not appear to even acknowledge) the Register had to highlight it in red in order to draw attention to it as being a selectable option.

            Drawing from what I post further on, in that same post (the rest of which you pointedly ignore), I have no problem with calling such measures a fig leaf and deliberate attempts to mislead. Which is why I made the Hitchhikers reference.

            What’s also interesting is that you completely avoid everything else I mentioned.

          • Asurmen says:

            They didn’t cast it out as a second button because the screen in about Express Settings. It’s logical to me that a screen about Express Settings would inherently include an option not to use express settings. I kept scanning the text and it’s right there, in line with the rest of the text and clearly a link at the end where I expect it to be.

            You’re acting like it was hidden in the world’s smallest font in the corner in a dodgy colour. Saying the article had to circle it to actually draw attention to it is disingenuous. It speeds up the article by doing so, not because it’s really hard to see.

          • subedii says:

            It’s kind of funny that you’re all still honing in on _just_ the button thing and refuse to talk about anything else.

            Regardless, I’m not acting like anything. I’ve stated precisely what I meant to, not what you want me to say. And no, it’s not logical that the alternative option is not cast as a button alongside the other two, the article had to point it out because it’s not as readily apparent as simply accepting the default.

            Or to put it another way: If they had made it just another button, it’s unlikely that anyone would be calling out MS for being illogical.

          • Asurmen says:

            What, what? First you complain people aren’t discussing the button, and then when people are discussing the button, apparently we’re not covering your other points. Make up your mind.

            Read what I actually said about what was logical and not what you thought I said please.

            Well seeing as you’re claiming intentional obfuscation on what is a clear selection option then yes, you are acting like that.

          • subedii says:

            First you complain people aren’t discussing the button,

            Nope, merely point it out amongst one of many shady things they’ve done since we’re on the topic of “informed consent”.

            then when people are discussing the button, apparently we’re not covering your other points.

            Because you’re not. I raised a whole host of issues with the idea that this is all above board informed consent and that this is all somehow the consumer’s fault, which you then ignored.

            Read what I actually said about what was logical and not what you thought I said please.

            I did, here’s what you wrote:

            Saying the article had to circle it to actually draw attention to it is disingenuous. It speeds up the article by doing so, not because it’s really hard to see.

            Which is not something I can agree with. Highlighting it to “speed up” (as you call it) the viewer seeing can only be said to be necessary because it was not as apparent in the first place.

            If it were as obvious as the other two options, then it wouldn’t need to be specifically highlighted and pointed out. Which again raises the issue of why this approach is somehow the logical approach but the converse is not.

  26. MadTinkerer says:

    ALL RIGHT. FINE. Microsoft, you’ve been bugging me to do it for ages. Clearly, CLEARLY it’s what you want me to do. I give in. I’ll do it.

    I’ll learn how to install and use Linux. Happy?

    • kud13 says:

      I’m almost at that stage. It’s something I’ve contemplated for a few years now, then Win7 suddenly came out and was good.
      Now all I need is an extended vacation to provide me with the time to learn smth not work-related…

  27. peterako1989 says:

    GAAAAH!!! I cant delete it! I get the “you dont have permission” error! Curse you MS! COURSE YOUOUOUOUOUOUOU!

    • Tuor says:

      You can fix that by giving yourself permission. You do that by changing ownership of the file to you, then you give yourself permission to delete the file. Then you delete the damn file. That’s how I had to (twice) delete Microsoft’s “helpful” attempt to get me to pre-load Win10.

    • SlimShanks says:

      Ah, but he doesn’t have OWNERSHIP of those files. File permissions do not prevent you from deleting them, only modifying them. Anyways, I will drop a link for a program that runs a batch file to give you ownership of any files. Very handy. Also lets you delete internet explorer. Ew.
      link to howtogeek.com

      • Cederic says:

        If you really want to give yourself a fun challenge, associate .exe files with something (e.g. winRar) then unassociate again.

        Guy at work lost two hours trying to fix that little snafu, although I taught him some useful tricks to help.

    • Bernardo says:

      Ok, I wasted the last two hours of my life to do that, when I could have wasted them on Witcher 3. Fuck MS.

      Anyways, here goes:
      Activate an Administrator account by opening the command prompt in the Accessories folder in the Start Menu (by right-clicking and choosing “open as Administrator”. Type in (or copypaste):
      net user administrator /activate:yes

      log off and find that you can choose between your normal user account and “Administrator”. Log on as Admin. Remember to activate the “Show hidden Folders” option in the Folder Settings. Try to delete it.

      What happened to me then was that I still couldn’t delete the gigabyte-sized turd MS had left on my HD, BUT:
      if that happens, search for “cleanmgr.exe” in the start menu and run it. It will look for unnecessary data on your computer, and it will, after some searching, show you several kinds of data you can opt to delete, including “windows install files” or some such entry. Check the box, delete, and the folder is gone.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Not sure why people are even discussing the hidden folders aspect. The remove windows installation files option for Disc Cleanup was introduced after Win7 SP1 and was introduced for situations like this.

        • Bernardo says:

          No, it was introduced to get rid of leftover installation files from OS changes. People are angry because that was a hidden, unnecessary and unrequested download of several Gigas, hogging bandwidth and disc space. Also, for some reason the cleanup manager only found and cleared the hidden folder after I had logged in as administrator, so it’s not something that would be cleared routinely when a normal user runs it. That’s fucking sneaky.

  28. kalirion says:

    Does automatic updates download updates you decided to “hide”?

  29. wyrm4701 says:

    So, the RPS statement on Windows 10 is “We recommend this, though it’s surprising abuses of privacy and trust are profound and ongoing.” It’s deeply weird to ignore the many liberties taken in favour of a slightly friendlier user interface.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Probably because a lot of the issues and privacy concerns were blown out of proportion.

      Take the Inquirer article this one is based on. They are complaining about a process that existed since Windows XP, that Microsoft has given users the option to say no to since Windows XP and where people complained when it wasn’t done this way (Win8.1 upgrade).

      People complained heavily about the spyware/nagware being installed even though Microsoft allows them to pick and chose what updates to install.

      Then there was the data collection complaints where once again Microsoft gave opt-outs for but people blindly used the express settings.

      Not saying there aren’t issues, there are. Its just that a lot of the complaints about Win10 had opt-outs and were very tame compared to the privacy concerns of products that we don’t get up in arms about such as Android, Chrome, GMail, Steam, Origin, etc.

      • Bernardo says:

        Totaly agreed on the Android/iOS argument. Microsoft is basically cathching up to industry practice. However, I think they didn’t realise that many people saw Win (at least XP and 7) as good, easy to use, safe OS. And they are extremely silent about the issues, as well as doing updates without communicating, without giving people a clear, upfront way to know what’s updating, and leaving them with the feeling that they are being nudged towards installing an OS they don’t want. I’m guessing people would have had less privacy concerns if MS had been upfront about what they were doing. If you buy an Android phone, you know you have to make a google account and it continually tells you what kind of data it’s using, via popups.

      • EhexT says:

        It is literally sending data about what you’re doing and what you’ve got on your machine to Microsoft even when you specifically tell it not to. That’s the definition of shady.

  30. KevinLew says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I was having problems with the antivirus scanner reading some of my OS file folders. I tried all the recommended fixes, but I was still getting problems. I finally decided to install all of the Recommended and Optional updates for my OS. This fixed my issue, but afterwards I kept getting the stupidly annoying message telling me to update to Windows 10.

    If you’ve ever seen this message, it is the worst and dumbest feature to come out of Microsoft: It will create a process in your System Tray that can’t be disabled. This process makes a pop-up ad telling you to Upgrade to Windows 10 almost every time you boot.

  31. mattevansc3 says:

    This seems like one hell of an over reaction from the Inquirer and shows a lack of research or even basic knowledge on their part.

    A) This is not a new practice. Since Windows XP service packs and OS upgrades have been part of Windows Update. The one time it wasn’t, Win 8.1, whereby you had to request it via the app store, websites like the Inquirer complained that it was too complicated and fragmented the user base, hence why Microsoft reverted back to a WU install for Win8.1 Update 1.

    2) Contrary to what the Inquirer have said Microsoft never said the reservation option was an opt-in/opt-out option. They’ve been clear that it is there to manage queues and that you are reserving your place in that queue. Not reserving =/= I don’t want the upgrade.

    C) The person complaining had Automatic Updates switched on. The article should have just stopped there. If you tell your PC to download and install ALL updates do not be shocked when it downloads and installs all updates.

    D) Likewise about metered connections. Microsoft gives the option to state you are on a metered connection and it adjusts WU accordingly.

    This is a non-story because in this instance Windows is behaving exactly as the people complaining asked Windows to behave like. Ultimately a PC user has to take responsibility for their own PC. Don’t want huge automatic downloads over a metered/capped connection? Select the relevant option. Don’t want Windows to automatically install updates? Don’t select that option.

    If Windows was overriding their selections such as automatically downloading 3GB over a known metered connection or as mentioned in previous quotes downloading the update after its been manually hidden, then that is a story. Somebody complaining because they used the Express Settings options and didn’t ownership/responsibility over their PC is not news.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Didn’t know you could set a metered connection in W7 where is the option? And preciously MS didn’t abuse the automatic update options by setting non-urgent downloads as urgent – MS broke the auto-updates not the users who just wanted security updates.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        For Win7 its the don’t automatically check for updates and notify me of updates but don’t download settings.

    • HERP DERP NANOMACHINES says:

      “This is a non-story because in this instance Windows is behaving exactly as the people complaining asked Windows to behave like” lol you thinks everyone is as obsessive as you? Try talking to actual human being once in a while.

  32. racccoon says:

    I love windows 10
    main thing is you just got to stop it in its tracks by turning everything off that’s on!
    After you done that, you can use this tool WindowexeAllkiller, this will help you shut off anything else you find annoying running about, but be very careful with it, as it can destroy a lot of stuff you may need.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      trouble is you have to keep on top of it all the time or MS can just download more rubbish later on with no way to stop it

  33. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Also on my yet-8.1-gear it’s nagging every single day to install.
    I believe the annoyance is done deliberately.
    Plus the files really sit like an elephant in the room on small SSDs.

  34. K_Sezegedin says:

    Does this happen on the professional editions of windows? I’m on 8.1 pro, important auto updates are on, hidden files enabled, and no $Windows.~BT folder on my SSD – just got some updates yesterday too.

    • Llewyn says:

      Likewise. I had the update which supposedly does this, with an install date in July, but no download had happened. I did wonder briefly if it had hidden it somewhere else, since my SSD was fuller than it ought to be, but that turned out to be Garmin helpfully dumping 10GB of maps in ProgramData.

      Nonetheless, have uninstalled the alleged offending update and turned off auto-updating now. Seems to me this whole thing is counterproductive for everyone involved.

  35. biff says:

    This is totally blown out of proportion. The Inquirer didn’t break any story — they interviewed an incompetent IT “professional” who didn’t know how to install updates and was terrible about their job. It seems like anybody can call themselves an expert nowadays.

    It’s not hard for an IT person to control updates. Whoever did it was just bad at it. Instead of controlling the update policy through a Local Group Policy Editor, they just allowed all the computers to update themselves. Which means the Network Admin isn’t doing his job, and he also gave all the end users administrative rights, which is also stupid.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      You are confusing this with another story from a month ago.

      • subedii says:

        Well the important thing is that the honour of Windows 10 is defended whilst those who question it are derided.

        • Cederic says:

          Yeah, surprising number of posts all going, “This is blown out of all proportion” despite TheInquirer, TheRegister, Slashdot and all of their very technology savvy readers stating that this is totally out of order, underhand, unwanted and borderline malicious.

          I can only imagine that Microsoft are astroturfing like crazy to try and mitigate yet another mess up.

          Me, I’m configuring my standalone firewall to block Microsoft. I’ll deal with Windows updates via other channels.

  36. freestonew says:

    hi all….
    the other day I noted that there are about a dozen security updates for my win 7. last night I tried to install just these. seems all of them “failed” to install!
    this bothers me! I have had no problems installing just the updates that I want. probably there is a certain update I did not install, one that might say….”must install this one before installing any future updates”. I am guessing the One that I am missing is one of those that will install that huge file onto my hard drive!
    looks like I might now never install even a security patch anymore!
    looks like, unless one of your geek people have any suggestions, that I will end up using my computer for only to play games with, little internet browsing due to no virus protection.

    I get the slight paranoid feeling, folks, that Microsoft is yelling out to us, ” hey everyone. better upgrade to 10 right now, it IS the operating system of today, after all. you WILL upgrade”!!

    yeah. like those mall stores that have to completely redo their interiors every five years, maybe someone is thinking that we should ditch our systems every couple of years and then get the currant New Thing! entire department stores are going out of business because men only buy shirts that last 30 years. what we men should do is to do like the teens and buy a shirt, wear it once, then toss it out!

    yeah, upgrade…..
    my old system now might not be able to get along with a upgraded OS. the upgrade itself might fail due to having me twiddle with windows for years, making the upgrade conflict with something. now. do not ask about system drivers or games!
    so what if computer becomes a pile of junk after a windows ten update fail? just have me go out and buy a new computer with 10 installed and get it over with, I guess. then go buy a brand new computer every year from then on……

    I am 74 years old and probably one of the few who play games, at this age. I have no time nor expertise to monkey around with constant updates and constant computer problems. I have now an iPad and recently I bought a 19″ LCD just to play my store of old ps1 and ps2 games. I probably have hundreds of hours of game happiness in my closet, with Amazon or the PS3 store for more.
    no OS woes, no patches, no problems with systems.

    I read somewhere recently that this writer says that human beings can stand only just so much change per year. we are not designed for constant changes. mental breakdown will happen, a meltdown!
    I can we’ll see how this is. the rate of changes for changes sake and for someone,s profits, is getting out of hand.
    too, I am amazed how in the PC games and in consoles too, the monsters are getting more and more re coco ornate and more and more flashy.
    what ever happened to the in depth stories and the crafted settings, in a game? got to be flash and bang, maybe, just to get our attention, I guess….

    freestone

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      I am 74 years old and probably one of the few who play games, at this age.

      Speaking as a game forum moderator, I can tell you that it is actually not that rare. Plenty of older folk are playing games!