Windows 10 upgrade nag: DOA or still kickin'?

Microsoft declines to confirm last week's statement that nag campaign will end after free deal expires

Microsoft today declined to confirm that it will end the on-screen campaign that pesters Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users into upgrading to Windows 10.

Last week, BetaNews reported that Microsoft would halt the campaign after July 29, citing a company statement.

"On July 29 the Get Windows 10 app that facilitates the easy upgrade to Windows 10 will be disabled and eventually removed from PCs worldwide," Microsoft told the website.

Get Windows 10, or GWX in Microsoft shorthand, is the app that the firm downloaded and installed on hundreds of millions of Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs more than a year ago. Starting June 1, 2015, GWX began displaying several screens that trumpeted the free upgrade to consumers and small businesses, and at least initially, let users "reserve" a copy. It was just one part of a multi-pronged strategy Microsoft deployed to aggressively promote Windows 10 upgrades: Other elements ranged from background downloads of the upgrade files to automatic initiation of the upgrade process.

Microsoft repeatedly pushed GWX to users with changes or to replace apps that customers had manually removed. The nagging got so intrusive that many installed GWX Control Panel, a third-party app created by Josh Mayfield that not only removed GWX, but monitored PCs for upgrade attempts.

GWX will purportedly remain on Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs for an undisclosed period, Microsoft told BetaNews. "Just as it took time to ramp up and roll out the Get Windows 10 app, it will take time to ramp it down," the company said.

Last week, Microsoft reiterated that it would end the one-year free upgrade offer on July 29. The expiration of that deal would logically make GWX worthless, and thus a target for elimination.

But today, Microsoft declined to affirm that. "We will have more details to share as we move closer to July 29," a spokeswoman said when asked to confirm the statement to BetaNews and its accuracy.

That does not mean Microsoft won't disable and then later yank GWX: The company frequently uses the "more details to share" wording in its statements to Computerworld before eventually doing what most had expected all along.

And the contradictory messaging from Microsoft is nothing new.

In fact, when it restated its intention to halt the free upgrade offer last week, Microsoft sent mixed signals to long-time company watcher Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet when she asked the firm to clarify a vague statement.

The result: Confused customers, who are uncertain whether the upgrade would end this summer.

Although there is every reason to believe that GWX will be switched off -- ending the nagging to upgrade -- and the app scrubbed from systems after July 29, Microsoft's refusal to confirm as much hinted that the app may continue to serve other purposes. Microsoft could, for example, tweak GWX to deliver an upgrade pitch to Windows 7 and 8.1 users for full-price or discounted Windows 10 licenses, as it now uses the "Get Office" notifications which relentlessly appear in Windows 10.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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