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Microsoft pushes Windows 10 upgrade to PCs without user consent

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 14, 2015
Confirms it has been silently downloading massive upgrade to Windows machines via automatic updates, chewing up bandwidth and storage space.

"I had to travel recently, so I took a laptop with [a] clean Windows 8.1 Pro install," wrote one such user, identified only as "X.25" on Slashdot. "At my destination, I purchased a SIM (they only had 1GB data packages) and put it into the 3G/W-Fi router I carry. I powered the laptop, connected to [the] Internet via said router, checked [a] few things, then went away for [a] few hours. When I got back to [the] apartment, my data package (and Internet connectivity) was killed because [the] Microsoft idiots decided to start downloading Windows 10 even though I have explicitly closed/rejected all the 'offers.'"

Others didn't appreciate the unwelcome guest that dropped into their limited storage space. Anyone with a 128GB SSD (solid-state drive), for example, would be concerned if 5% of their storage capacity was occupied without their okay.

Some also wondered whether Microsoft would take the next logical step by either dunning users with notifications urging them to apply the already-installed upgrade, or make the much more unlikely move of automatically triggering the upgrade.

The former would, frankly, not be that different from what Microsoft has already done with those who accepted the free upgrade and reserved a copy. It's possible that many on the receiving end of such notifications would approve the upgrade, and even appreciate the fact that they did not have to wait for a long download to complete before upgrading. The latter, however, would be unprecedented, and would almost certainly fuel a firestorm of protest.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to follow-up questions about its intensions.

What is also interesting about the upgrade-prep is Microsoft's defense, that it's an "industry practice."

Although that may be true in limited instances -- Google's Chrome browser, for example, regularly pre-loads updates, which are then automatically installed the next time the application is launched -- as far as Computerworld knows, it's never been done with either an operating system or software that demands installation files of this size. The most common practice for operating systems, by far, is to begin downloading an upgrade only after the user has been notified, and then approved the procedure.

Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, agreed. "I've seen some tiny apps do it for updates. But not for an OS upgrade," Miller said in an email answer to a question asking whether he recalled any similar examples.


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