October 2015: Pushy is the new norm
In late October, Microsoft announced the next step in its distribution strategy: It would push the Windows 10 upgrade to eligible PCs automatically, then kick off the upgrade process.
The first of the two-part process, Microsoft said, would add the Windows 10 upgrade to the Windows Update list on Windows 7 and 8.1 systems as an "optional" item. That list can be examined by users, letting them choose -- or not -- each optional update. At the time, Microsoft's Myerson said that step would be taken "soon." However, as of Jan. 11, there's no evidence the company has placed the upgrade on the Windows Update's optional list. (Because the company often uses Patch Tuesday to deliver non-security updates, it may begin seeding the Windows 10 upgrade as an optional item on Tuesday, Jan. 12.)
After that -- Myerson said in early 2016, but wasn't more specific than that -- Microsoft will shift the Windows 10 upgrade to the "recommended" list. Updates on that list are automatically downloaded and installed on most PCs. Because it's an upgrade, users will have the opportunity to cancel the upgrade once it begins.
Microsoft has a history of using this two-step with many of its Windows 7 and 8.1 updates of first ticking an item as optional, then after some time digesting telemetry from customers to see if there are any showstoppers, switching the same item to recommended status.
But this procedure is unparalleled, not only for Microsoft, but also for OS vendors in general. While mobile operating systems, such as iOS, will download to the device and then nag the user into installing, none actually launch the installation action without explicit user approval.
Microsoft is clearly banking on substantial uptake from this measure, and seemingly doesn't care whether Windows 10 is installed because the user chooses to do so or wearies of the nagging as the upgrade begins, even if the upgrade is canceled multiple times.
That's evidenced by the blowback from some users -- who have rebelled against the less aggressive moves made thus far -- and Microsoft's plan to carry on in the face of that resistance.
The nuclear option?
Although Microsoft has said the Windows 10 upgrade will not complete without user approval -- "You will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue [the upgrade process]," said Myerson in an Oct. 29 blog post -- it's possible the company has the next logical step on its strategy list or among its contingencies.
Some cynical users have wondered for months, since Microsoft first put the Get Windows 10 applet on customers' PCs, really, if the firm might dare to take the radical step of not only downloading and initiating the upgrade, but completing it as well.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.