Microsoft launched Windows 10 in July, making it available as a free updated for users running Windows 7 or later for the first year of availability. The company also placed a little Windows icon in the system tray of most users, prompting them to register for an upgrade.

Soon the company will be rolling out a few changes designed to make it easier to upgrade — and one side effect is that this could automatically start the upgrade process for some users who may not want to upgrade. There are plenty of ways to back out though.

win10 update

Here’s what’s happening:

  • Right now Microsoft is updating the “get your free upgrade” notification language to help encourage more users to take advantage of the free upgrade.
  • You also no longer have to register and then wait for a download. That system was in place at launch so that Microsoft could ensure that your computer wouldn’t encounter problems during the upgrade. Now that more than 100 million devices have been upgraded, Microsoft has a lot of data about the process. Now when you sign up for the upgrade, it starts right away.
  • Soon Microsoft will begin offering Windows 10 as an “optional update” in the Windows Update service for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. This means it won’t download and install automatically, but you’ll be able to select the update if you’d like.
  • In early 2016 Windows 10 will become a “recommended update.” If you have Windows Updated set to automatically install recommended updates, this means your computer might start the upgrade process without any user intervention… but it will only start the process.

That means your computer might download the Windows 10 installer when you’re not paying attention. But it won’t actually install the OS update without asking you. So if you don’t feel like turning off recommended updates, but you also don’t feel like installing Windows 10, just click no… and hope that you’re not on a metered internet connection where you have to pay for every gigabyte of data downloaded.

OK, so what happens if you did click the OK button by accident because you weren’t reading carefully? You can still go home again.

Microsoft gives you 31 days to roll back to a previous version of Windows after installing Windows 10. Just go into the Windows 10 Settings menu, choose update and security, and then choose recovery. You should see an option to uninstall Windows 10, which will restore Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 for you.

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24 replies on “Windows 10 is coming to Windows Update: be careful if you don’t want an accidental upgrade”

  1. And in late 2016, Micro$oft starts charging a mandatory Win10 monthly subscription fee.

  2. The icon in the system tray is new. I removed the old one by removing a certain windows update, but about 3 weeks ago it came back again. Very annoying.

    1. I just removed my Get Windows 10 system tray icon. It was easy to do in Windows 7.
      Right click on Taskbar > Properties > Customize
      UNcheck “Always show icons…”
      Then set individual prefs as you choose.

      1. The computer I’m on I don’t work with much, so I haven’t really tried to get rid of it (but I do find it annoying none the less). But thanks–we’ll see if that setting sticks. If I remember right it didn’t stick with the old one, but maybe Microsoft has learned how to be less annoying! 😉

        1. “maybe Microsoft has learned how to be less annoying”
          Looks like they’re headed in the opposite direction. They’re determined to shove this update down your throat whether you want it or not.

      2. That only hides the icon. The process is still there using system resources. The files are still installed by Microsoft against the wishes of the user. Someone might reply that the user by enabling automatic updates has consented to the Win10 nag program. But Microsoft knowingly act to exploit the user’s need for pure security updates in a timely manner and sneak in what is pure advertising. When the user uninstalls it Microsoft reinstalls the same advertising through the trick of releasing it with a new KB number so the users previous action to uninstall and prevent the advertisement is overridden.

  3. Windows 10 has already stealth downloaded a 4.7GB “update” (malware is more like it) install to all of my WIndows 7 computers and those of my family. On each device. It’s in a hidden folder C:$windows.~BT regardless of hiding or uninstalling their trojan updates. I’ve set all their updates to manual now.

    I really really hope Microsoft gets nailed to the wall for this by an antitrust suit for big dollars. On a side note, I finally downloaded an Ubuntu 15 Live CD to figure things out going that route. It’s very well done.

    1. I’ve been casually using Linux since 2007. All this mess with Windows 10 has motivated me to put more effort into learning Linux. My laptop is dual booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu 14.04. Lately, I’ve found myself using Ubuntu much more than Windows. Some things Ubuntu does better than Windows, some things Windows does better. Ubuntu is not perfect, but overall it’s a great distro. For basic usage (internet, word processing, etc) I would recommend it over Windows. (You don’t have to worry about viruses and shady updates.) Most everything works out of the box. When things don’t work out of the box, that’s when you start hitting speed bumps. Anyone looking for a secure alternative to Windows should give it a try. I’d recommend using the Live CD (like you’re doing) or dual booting (like I’m doing) to see if Ubuntu meets your needs before ditching Windows. Currently, there are a few programs that I can’t find suitable replacements for on Linux, so I will be dual booting for the foreseeable future. I really like using Ubuntu. It feels snappier on the same hardware and I don’t have to worry about researching updates before I install them (like on Windows). Linux Mint is also a good distro to try out.

      1. Linux has a fairly steep learning curve if you step out of the sandbox, and relies on you using the shell (like a DOS prompt) to do almost anything. You can also virtualise you PC by using VMware converter, and then running your PC as VM within Virtual Box. This is what I do at work. If you actually want to go native and learn Linux, then you want Arch Linux. For a noob this is like climbing K2, but the user support, and documentation from arch are second to none, with no hand holding.

        1. Not to mention drivers. Using anything outside the normal graphics and sound cards becomes a challenge. Wireless network adapters are notoriously problematic.

          1. There is a tool to get around the binary driver issue, ndis wrappers or something. It’s not the problem it was, sound can also be an issue if you try to change the driver. But all of this is fixable, if you’re willing to experiment and persevere. The new user is thus best advised to seek the most difficult install with the least hand holding to avoid the culture shock that comes from going from an easy easy to use distro, direct to the command line. If you start from the command line you acclimatise more quickly to the learning curve. Just my 2 cents as a UNIX admin.

    2. Anti-trust? For providing a free OS upgrade? That’s not going to happen.

      1. How about for backporting all the telemetry spying to windows 7, 8 and 8.1 WITHOUT consent? There is an awful lot of people who are not (and will not) be pushed to windows 10. Sony got their pee pee slapped hardcore for their root kit fiasco (though not 100% similar it’s close enough to warrant parallels), pull this shit on the EU and watch…it will happen. This may be a free update but it’s NOT wanted by me and many, many others. The hoops I have had to jump through to get it off my system and to stop begging me are enough to seriously piss me off. Forcing us to this “new” POS operating system by butchering our perfectly good OS is bound to get them some heat. I can’t wait and I hope it’s painful and expensive. Maybe I’m using the wrong term…but lawsuit of any kind will suffice.

    3. Yeah, Ubuntu and others are well done… Easy enough to use. But, its the software where it gets impractical. Just Skype, for example: Microsoft hasn’t updated the Skype client for Linux in ages, so by now it barely works, because of all the changes to the Windows client to Skype that happened in the meantime.

      You can find all sorts of Linux software… some of that software is pretty full featured, but other things are not.

      1. Well with today’s news about the prices of Skype going from $30/yr to ~$300/yr might make that much easier to get off from using it. I don’t personally Skype but if I did getting a price hike like that would get me to switch pretty quickly. Coupled with this Windows 10 crap and ya, it’s just another major reason to switch.

    4. You could also download VirtualBox for free and run Ubuntu in that.
      If you do think about a permanent Ubuntu install then might I recommend an LTS (Long Term Support) edition? 15.04/15.10 should be fine (never tried, I’m on 14.04) as long as you follow the version updates, but in case you don’t want to get too involved in upgrades an LTS may suit you better.
      Also, do check out Xubuntu and the other variants – you may prefer the UI.
      Also, I’ve heard good things about Linux Mint – might be more familiar to those coming from Windows.
      Good luck. I switched years ago and never looked back.

  4. Good grief. Thanks very much for posting about this and warning us!

    I use Windows 7 and think it’s the greatest thing ever and don’t want to change until I absolutely must.

    I already wasted $40 on an upgrade from XP to Win8 which never worked! If I could figure a way to somehow upgrade THAT licence to Win 10 on one of my computers, I’d do that in an instant.

    1. If you already have a license for Windows 8, you are eligible for one free upgrade to Windows 10.

      1. But you need to be running Windows 8 to get the upgrade, and to do that you’d likely have to be running XP. Contact MSFT, they may have an upgrade path for you.

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