If you’ve been on-board with Windows 10 since July, you might be getting a little sick of the twists and turns this operating system keeps throwing your way. Not content with following a single, easy track, Windows 10 seems to move the goalposts with every update. And as you cannot opt out of the updates, you’ve been thoroughly strapped in for the ride, come hell or high-water.
Latest in the Windows 10 debacle is the auto-removal of a number of applications following each Windows 10 that rolls out. This has ranged from non-essentials, like CPU-Z, to system vital applications such as antivirus software. Why does Windows 10 deem these user-installed applications open for removal? What other software should you be concerned with?
Let’s take a look at the why’s and wherefore’s, and some of the programs Windows 10 might eviscerate during your next system update.
Why Are They Being Removed?
The big Windows 10 November update quickly became known for all the wrong reasons. Microsoft had envisaged this major system update tweaking, fixing, patching and more, while the reality is Microsoft once again shipped a bug-laden update to its users. More backpedaling, more apologies. And here I was thinking Microsoft was going to be consistently good, at least for a while.
Reports quickly came back concerning application removal. Following the update, a number of programs no longer functioned properly with Windows 10, with instances of crashes and BSODs documented throughout various forums. In accordance with the latest Microsoft Services Agreement, Microsoft has your blessing to remove any applications they deem as creating a security risk on your system. To rid Windows 10 of the supposedly troublesome application, your system will kindly have removed the active version of the program and handily filed it away in your burgeoning “Windows.old” folder.
This, in the name of security, seems reasonable, but the manner of delivery – or rather removal – has rightly ruffled some feathers.
Which Applications Have Been Removed?
Affected programs appear to be entirely software products, rather than say, gaming installations. There isn’t a truly comprehensive list of removed applications, but we are going to list some of the most commonly mentioned programs for you:
- AMD Catalyst Control Centre
- 8GadgetPack (including gadgets)
- Various SATA Drivers
- Foxit Reader
- Sumatra Reader
- Massive number of varied drivers
Further issues relating to the Fall Update included removal of color calibration profiles, custom folder location resets, some quick actions being restored to default, and custom driver configurations removed without warning, causing some to have to completely reconfigure. As with the application removals, there appears to be no true rhyme or reason in which systems have been affected by the updates, only that the experiences have been largely corroborated around the web.
If software has been removed, you’ll receive a handy notification following your next Windows 10 login. Otherwise, take a good, hard look at your Programs list and check everything remains as is.
The update has also caused a number of popular free antivirus packages to be completely removed from end-user systems, including Avira, Avast!, and AVG. Reports aren’t quite as common as the system utilities removals described above, but could prove much more problematic, if your system is left vulnerable.
The antivirus removals stem from the same version issues affecting the other applications. If Windows deems your antivirus version to be an issue during the update, it will simply remove it, without warning, and replace it with its own antivirus package. You can find more information in the Windows 10 Specifications document, found here, though the gist of it is this:
“Many applications, files, and settings will migrate as part of the upgrade. However, some applications or settings may not migrate. For antimalware [and antivirus] applications, [the Windows 10 upgrade] will check to see if your [antivirus and antimalware] subscription is current (not expired) and compatible during the upgrade. If the [antivirus and antimalware] application is compatible and current, your application will be preserved during the upgrade to Windows 10. If the [antivirus and antimalware] application is incompatible, Windows will uninstall your application while preserving your settings … If your [antivirus and antimalware] subscription is not current (expired), Windows will uninstall your application and enable Windows Defender.”
Gee, cheers, Microsoft.
How Can I Stop It Happening?
Well, Microsoft acted accordingly, though not entirely swiftly. The Version 1511 update was pulled from their Media Creation Tool installer, but was still available through Windows Update. For many it was too little, too late.
“The November update was originally available via the MCT (Media Creation Tool), but the company decided that future installs should be through Windows Update. People can still download Windows 10 [Build 10240] using the MCT tool if they wish. The November update will be delivered via Windows Update.”
“Microsoft has not pulled the Windows 10 November 10 update. The company is rolling out the November update over time — if you don’t see it in Windows Update, you will see it soon.”
Some newer Windows 10 users may well be in luck. The Windows 10 November Update FAQ was recently updated with this addition:
“If it’s been less than 31 days since you upgraded to Windows 10, you won’t get the November update right away; this will allow you to go back to your previous version of Windows if you choose. After the 31 days have passed, your PC will automatically download the November update.”
So if you’ve only just installed Windows 10, the issues may well be fixed by the time your Version 1511 update comes around. See here for more Windows 10 Activation questions and answers.
Businesses may have also have missed out. Those systems signed up to Current Branch for Business, or the Long Term Servicing Branch won’t receive their updates for another few months, so again can rest assured this issue will be fixed by time it arrives.
How Have Windows 10 Users Taken It?
Predictably and understandably irritated, and I have read more than a few choice expletives while running through forums and message boards.
There are also a healthy number of people gentling poking irritated Windows 10 users, largely covering the “you should have expected this” and “you have agreed to this in the license agreement” angles. Is there truth in these statements?
The license agreement was designed to cover as many devices as possible, so some definitions are purposely loosely worded, but I think application removal without warning is an unexpected step too far. Similarly, hindsight is a truly wonderful thing.
Windows 10 Application Removal Roundup
Whatever the terms of the Microsoft Services Agreement, it is plainly wrong to remove user-installed software, especially those without any malicious intent. Microsoft appears to be once again working on the assumption that we would all find it easier, if they automated tasks such as this; the removal of end-user choice will not sit well with many.
But if we isolate the instances of a bad update experience versus the instances of positives, I’m sure one outweighs the other. We only hear so much regarding the bad experiences because they so heavily impact Windows Power Users, though I expect this issue may have traveled further afield.
I’m sure some users can commiserate with Microsoft. I’m sure more won’t. Removal of potentially malicious software is a righteous step to ensuring the security of the masses, but the final decision with software removal should realistically remain with the end-user, the system owner, the paying customer. Fortunately, you can simply reinstall affected applications; this doesn’t seem to be an issue — until the next update.
Have you been affected by the Windows 10 update and subsequent removal of applications? What did you lose? Let us know below!