Microsoft breaking Windows 7 & 8 so you’ll upgrade to Windows 10

In the couple of months since the release of Windows 10, there have been plenty of reports of strange, unexpected, and unwanted behaviour on Windows 7 and 8.x computers. At least one high profile writer dismissed these reports, but recanted after witnessing the behaviour themselves.

I ran into one such problem yesterday when I tried to install October’s Patch Tuesday updates on my Windows 7 computer. Although auto updates are disabled on that computer, I had previously decided to install all updates flagged as ‘Important’. The idea was to see what happened if I allowed Microsoft to push whatever they wanted to that computer, putting myself into the same situation as most typical users.

The first thing I noticed was the ‘Get Windows 10’ icon that started appearing in the notification area. At the time, I provided instructions for uninstalling the update that caused this icon to appear, and did that myself as well. But the icon – and the update that enables it – kept appearing. Even ‘hiding’ the update (KB3035583) in Windows Update could not prevent the damned thing from reappearing.

Fast forward to yesterday, and when I tried to install updates on that Windows 7 PC, I was able to check for updates, and see the pending updates, but there was no way to install them! Instead, all I could see was a panel urging me to upgrade to Windows 10 and a ‘Get Started’ button.

The borked Windows Update screen on my Windows 7 computer.
The borked Windows Update screen on my Windows 7 computer.

I eventually discovered a rather amusing article on The Inquirer’s site, which provided some useful insight into the problem. Besides singling out the writer who had previously pooh-poohed claims of this unwanted behaviour, the article pointed to a Microsoft Knowledge Base article that provides instructions for getting rid of all the Windows 10 upgrade prompts.

I followed the procedures in that KB article, and sure enough all the upgrade prompts vanished, the KB3035583 update stopped reappearing, and Windows Update once again allowed me to install updates.

That's better. The normal Windows Update screen.
That’s better. The normal Windows Update screen.

Anyone using Windows 7 or 8.x who is seeing any of this unwanted and unwelcome behaviour is urged to follow the instructions in the KB3080351 article. If you’re unwilling or unable to do so yourself, ask your friendly local support person to do it.

Meanwhile, a message to Microsoft: are you serious? Are you so eager to push everyone to Windows 10 that you are now literally trying to trick or even force users to upgrade? This is not acceptable. You need to step down from this or the backlash is going to get serious. There is already discussion around the idea of a class action lawsuit.

Update 2015Oct18: I’m not the only person seeing this kind of thing. Some Windows 7 and 8.x users have reported the Windows 10 upgrade installing without any confirmation at all.

About jrivett

Jeff Rivett has worked with and written about computers since the early 1980s. His first computer was an Apple II+, built by his father and heavily customized. Jeff's writing appeared in Computist Magazine in the 1980s, and he created and sold a game utility (Ultimaker 2, reviewed in the December 1983 Washington Apple Pi Journal) to international markets during the same period. Proceeds from writing, software sales, and contract programming gigs paid his way through university, earning him a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) degree at UWO. Jeff went on to work as a programmer, sysadmin, and manager in various industries. There's more on the About page, and on the Jeff Rivett Consulting site.

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