Microsoft is finally backtracking on its use of a “malware-like” tactic that tricked computer users into upgrading to Windows 10.
The company’s executive vice president of Windows and devices, Terry Myerson, said in a widely circulated statement that Microsoft would “launch a new upgrade experience” this week that restores the ability for users to decline Windows 10.
It comes six months after Microsoft caused outrage by changing the function of the “red-x” in the top right corner of a dialog box presented to Windows 7 and 8.1 users to get them to upgrade.
When Windows 10 launched, Microsoft started offering users the ability to reserve their upgrade via a small icon in the bottom right of the screen.
In December, it changed gears and started presenting a large pop-up to users offering only two options: to “upgrade now” or to “start download, upgrade later”.
The lack of a clear exit led to accusations that the company was adopting malware-like tactics to force downloads onto people. However, at that time, the familiar “red-x” at the top right of the box still worked to close out of the pop-up without upgrading.
A fortnight later, PC World spotted an alarming change: Microsoft changed the function of the “red-x”.
Instead of being the only way to say no to a Windows 10 upgrade, clicking the “red-x” was suddenly taken as consent for the upgrade to begin.
Microsoft later changed tactics again, making Windows 10 a “recommended” update, meaning Windows 7 and 8.1 users that accepted automatic operating system updates would also get Windows 10 without asking for it.
Tricking users into upgrading to Windows 10 was not well-received by PC users, but it seems Microsoft has finally gotten the message.
Users of Windows 7 and 8.1 will this week see a newly-worded dialog box that gives them a new option to completely decline a free upgrade to Windows 10. The option is clearly displayed for the first time.
“The new [upgrade] experience has clearer options to upgrade now, choose a time, or decline the free offer,” Myerson said in a widely published statement.
“If the red-x is selected on this new dialog, it will dismiss the dialog box and we will notify the device again in a few days.”
The timing of the change coincides with a Microsoft user successfully suing the company for US$10,000 after an automatic Windows 10 upgrade disabled the computer she used to run her travel business.