Engineer: Microsoft 'Going Too Far' Forcing Win10 Upgrade

John Lister's picture

A software engineer has accused Microsoft of going to extreme lengths to push users into upgrading to Windows 10. Josh Mayfield says Microsoft is in a cat and mouse game with users who are explicitly trying to avoid an upgrade.

We've previously reported on Microsoft's tactics to make Windows 10 an automatic upgrade for many users. Microsoft went as far as to recently reclassify the operating system as an optional update to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, meaning it will automatically install for all users who have set their machines to trust Microsoft and accept all updates.

As things stand, early next year Microsoft will reclassify the update to Windows 10 yet again, this time as a "recommended" update. This means it will automatically install for all users except those who have chosen to manually select updates. Critics suggest this move could encourage users to take security risks in an attempt to disable the Windows 10 update from downloading, as other security updates may be ignored as well.

Microsoft Combating Windows 10 Upgrade-Blocker

Mayfield claims Microsoft has gone a step further and is now trying to combat users who have actively taken steps to avoid upgrading. He created a tool called "GWX Control Panel", which stands for "Get Windows 10 Control Panel." As well as removing the "Get Windows 10" upgrade icon that appears in the bottom right corner of the screen for many Windows 7 and 8.1 users, the tool also makes Windows send a signal to Microsoft to say a Windows 10 upgrade is unwanted.

The latest version of the tool, released last month, also has a background monitoring feature. This means that rather than the user seeing on-screen notifications of Microsoft's attempts to push Windows 10 and the tool's efforts to stop it, the tool works in a "set it and forget it" mode. (Source:

Upgrade Push Is Daily Battle

As part of this shift, the tool keeps a log of communications from Microsoft with the computer. Mayfield says these logs show Microsoft is making repeated attempts to remove the "don't upgrade" signal and instead replace it with an application that explicitly marks the computer as ready for an upgrade. (Source:

He says Microsoft not only reinstalls this application daily, and sometimes more frequently, but that it slightly changes the code to make it look like a new application, apparently in an attempt to fool the GWX Control Panel tool.

Microsoft has yet to comment on Mayfield's claims. However, it has previously stated that even when it does start pushing Windows 10 as an automatic, default update, users will have an opportunity to cancel the upgrade before it completes. If they do get Windows 10 installed, they will have 30 days to revert to Windows 7 or 8.1 without losing any files. Optionally, if users create a disk image backup of their system, they can side-step the 30 day timeline and make it an indefinite option.

What's Your Opinion?

If Mayfield's claims are correct, is this a step too far for Microsoft's drive to get users using Windows 10? If you've decided against an upgrade to Windows 10, have you taken any steps to stop it happening automatically? Does Microsoft have a right to move Windows users to the latest version, given there's no extra cost and no major increase in the minimum hardware requirements?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I think the majority of people wouldn't have a problem updating to Windows 10 if (a) the majority of bugs were worked out, (b) there were no major compatibility issues, (c) there wasn't so much user tracking, and (d) users had a choice in whether or not to postpone an update if they wanted to. Those are some of the biggest sticking points for many, but I'm sure there's more. As for Microsoft's attempts to make it futile to decline the update - this has surely been planned from the get-go.

jkucharik_5933's picture

When will Microsoft learn, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"? I am so tired of the upgrade for your convenience attitude. I also agree with you, I would upgrade if the darn thing worked as good or better than Win7. Unfortunately, they continue to have one good OS upgrade, only every couple iterations, and the interim ones SUCK!
Stop trying to make my life better/easier/whatever! If I want new features I will ask for them. Don't try top shove them down my internet connection.

dickarling's picture

My computer is an "early 2011" Dell Vostro 3750. Dell recommends NOT installing Win 10 on this unit. I'm using the GWX Control Panel to get rid of the MS nagging to upgrade.

I don't know why Dell has made this recommendation, but will abide by their advice.

I was able to use Windows 8 Pro on this machine very successfully but reverted back to Win7 Pro a couple of years ago and am very happy with it.

bluecardinal1_5931's picture

I don't have any use for all the tracking and my Toshiba Satellite P755 is running like a champ.

When Dennis says all the bugs are fixed and we can turn off all the tracking foolishness I will consider the merits of 10. It's a matter of "who do you
trust?", and I'll stick with Dennis any day.

David's picture

I paid for a license to use Windows 7. That was a contract I entered into willingly. I do not want to 'upgrade' to any newer version of Windows. Yet Microsoft thinks they can arbitrarily force me to accept a new contract against my will? Every unwanted installation needs to be met with a lawsuit.

swreynolds's picture

Microsoft made it difficult, but not impossible to disable GWX.
The executable is sitting in a folder off Windows with the imaginative name GWX.
The file GWX.exe is the culprit. You must change the owner from "trusted installer" to one that can rename the file. I renamed it to GWX,exx. It no longer bothers me.

Syscob Support's picture

All we need is a law firm with the balls to face Microsoft in what would be a long, but extremely profitable, class action…

deuce128's picture

Just because Microsoft thinks Windows 10 is the next best thing since mom's apple pie doesn't mean everyone should jump on-board. If you giving up your privacy, go for it. I, myself, like to know what I am installing update or otherwise. Being forced is not going to happen. I'll stay with Windows 7 until the updates stop and then make the jump to Linux full-time. I do realize that not everyone can do this and maybe just maybe Microsoft will come around and allow those of us who like to tinker to install what we like but I'm not holding my breath.

gar.suitor_4798's picture

I did a search or "GWX.EXE on my machine.

I found it in a folder under C:\Windows. The folder was named WINSXS.

In it was 7.19 GB of data, contained in 23,5999 folders, and 94,427 files.

I admit there's a lot I don't understand about computers, but I have to ask: "Did this search not find the correct thing?"

If it did, then I have to ask: "What in the hell is going on here?" This is so big, I'm afraid to touch it.

Anuone have any ideas?

kitekrazy's picture

"Optionally, if users create a disk image backup of their system, they can side-step the 30 day timeline and make it an indefinite option."

So does this mean?

A. I hate Windows 10 but 6 month later I can go back to my previous OS?


B. I installed W10 but I need to go back to my previous OS but I'll make a W10 image and 16 months later I'll use my W10 image and not pay for the upgrade?

Dennis Faas's picture

You can roll back to your previous OS at any point beyond 30 days if you disk image it before you upgrade to Windows 10. You can also do option (b) if you want to as well - that's what disk images are for.

blueboxer2's picture

Calling a total remove and replace an update is, in plain language, lying. I don't chose to be lied to. When I buy a product to a certain specification, I expect it to work to that specification. Should the manufacturer find what it sees as a fault in the product subsequently, it is free to offer to correct it. It isn't free to try to sneak in behind my back and make the change without explaining its intentions, spelling out what it wants to do (why and how) and getting my permission first. To do anything else is a breach of good faith.

I demand to be dealt with in good faith. Microsoft seems to have forgotten what this means.

Yesterday I downloaded and burned a DVD of Ubuntu GNOME3. Shortly I plan to download and burn a copy of Linux Mint. I shall test each on an old XP computer I have surplus, and decide which I want to use to replace Windows7 on my main current machine, and whether I will wait for Microsoft to try something funny or just make the move to Linux right away.

But do not expect to see Windows 10 on any machine I own, ever.

peterinfopackets_5947's picture

We now live in a world of cyber risks and stable software. DOS 4 is far behind us and we now live in a world of ever changing software releases. Gone are the "upgrade to" days.

As fact we know that 10 is the most secure OS Microsoft has released, we should be more concerned about security if a game runs correctly.

Bottom line is this, if you don't know enough to say no then you need to upgrade to 10. If you do not stop the upgrade and want to go back within the 30 day period do it, if you don't know how to do that then you shouldn't be going back anyway.

If you don't want Windows then by all means use Linux and spend your days looking for drivers or spend a few grand on a Macbook air.

I have two labs filled with Windows 10 computers and yes the upgrades become a problem but we have more or less solved the problem with a type of VM (it is more complicated than that but that's basically what we have)

In conclusion let me say this. Stop being a Luddite, suck it up and move on.

doliceco's picture

Microsoft's pop-up offer of the free download Win 10 (at least on my own computers) no longer just pops up on startup, but now continually, frequently and very annoyingly on my screens throughout the day -- no longer just once per startup.

This action is just an excuse for MS not wanting to spend any money to hire enough qualified programmers to fix all the bugs and glitches in the program before releasing it.

Win 10 as such given away as "free" is only annoying users who then have to spend valuable time to contact you to post fixes of all of the problems they're experiencing.

What's being given away free should be clearly named as "Beta" versions, and MS should stop annoying all of us who are tired of these constant intrusions into our daily work flow.

Does anybody track any of the bad press MS is receiving because of this intrusive annoyance? If so, somebody should catalog a list of these articles and send it to MS's marketing department -- and perhaps publish the list on a website someplace?

lisbell_5960's picture

I have no inherent objection to Win 10. I immediately upgraded a new Win 8.1 laptop to it. I intend to update an older Win 8.1 laptop to Win 10 once I make my complete backup. But when I ran the readiness test on my Win 7 desktop, in addition to two little items, it also said my display is not compatible with Win 10. That's kind of a deal breaker, so I uninstalled that little reminder thing. The reminder thing is back, but I hesitate to click it since it says it's to schedule my new installation.

I'd like to run the compatibility thing again to see whether Win 10 has made any changes that would accommodate my display. Is that possible?

Kookie's picture

At home I am already running Win 10, however at work, everyone is running 7, and on top of that those using IE (I personally use Chrome/google) were forced back to IE 7 or IE 8. This was necessary because the software (MRI) used to run the business required it for their forcible upgrade to Cloud services. Unfortunately I work for some folks that generally "hate" technology and mostly have no desire to learn more than just what they specifically need to do their job. I am certainly no "techie" by any stretch, but I do try to keep up, and "try and try again" to learn as technology grows.