Microsoft Finally Admits Its Malware-Style Windows 10 Upgrade Sales Pitch Went Too Far

from the self-sabotage dept

We've talked a lot about how Microsoft managed to shoot Windows 10 (and consumer goodwill) squarely in the foot by refusing to seriously address OS privacy concerns, and by using malware-style tactics to try and force users on older versions of Windows to upgrade. While Microsoft's decision to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 made sense on its surface, the company repeatedly bungled the promotion by making the multi-gigabyte upgrade impossible to avoid, which was a huge problem for those on capped and metered broadband connections.

But at times Microsoft made things even worse by engaging in behavior that would make even the lowest scumware peddlers proud. Like that time the Redmond-giant began pushing Windows 10 upgrade popups that pretended to let users close the popup dialogue by pressing X, only to have that begin the upgrade anyway against the user's wishes.
Between this and the company's outright refusal to let users control how and when the operating system phoned home, Microsoft managed to take a relatively successful OS launch and turn it squarely on its head -- largely by ignoring some of the most basic principles of design, customer service, and public relations.

Now that the Windows 10 upgrade push is long gone, the company actually got close to acknowledging that its behavior went too far. Speaking on the Windows Weekly podcast, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela finally acknowledged that the company mishandled the entire forced upgrade (though he falls short of apologizing or addressing the parallel privacy concerns):
"We know we want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective, but finding the right balance where you’re not stepping over the line of being too aggressive is something we tried and for a lot of the year I think we got it right, but there was one particular moment in particular where, you know, the red X in the dialog box which typically means you cancel didn’t mean cancel.

And within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we have we knew that we had gone too far and then, of course, it takes some time to roll out the update that changes that behavior. And those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us. We learned a lot from it obviously."
Except Microsoft didn't really "get it right," and users made that abundantly obvious. And whether Microsoft actually "learned a lot from it" really isn't clear, since a refusal to let users truly control how the OS works (whether it's preventing the OS from being quite so chatty or letting users dictate upgrade schedules on their own terms) has been somewhat of a recurring theme since launch. That "we know what's best for you" mentality has been bone-grafted to the company's DNA for some time, and we'll likely have to wait until Windows 11 to see if any lessons were actually learned.

Filed Under: push, upgrade, windows 10
Companies: microsoft


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  1. icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 28 Dec 2016 @ 4:00pm

    Even for those who willingly upgraded there was deception in the install. They made it look like there was no option for a local account and you had to sign in online. If they aren't already accessing everything on your system you are handing them your password and full admin privileges. The choice to keep your browser and other defaults was only possible by clicking a barely visible button. If you wanted to change back to Firefox or Chrome they made this particularly difficult. The 13 "privacy" screens had the most intrusive options on by default. There is no way of knowing if turning them off protecting you and I have read that it was still phoning home. I might have been less suspicious if not for how insanely desperately they pushed this. I think they crossed the line with the "Get Windows 10 nagware. Without GWX control panel there was no way to completely uninstall it. They backed off putting it in the important updates under criticism and then started doing it again. Even GWX didn't delete everything. No matter what you did to edit the properties Windows would not let you delete them. I have a program that got rid of everything but it was a pain in the ass to find them all. Now important updates for 7 and 8.1 is an all or nothing monthly package so God knows what they are sneaking in. It is widely believed that Microsoft is going to sneak in updates to "break" 7 and 8.1 to force upgrades at $199. Nothing would surprise me. Maybe I'm ready for a tinfoil hat but it is not impossible that secret government orders could have mandated 10 to give them access to everyone.

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