Security Windows

Has Microsoft Installed Adware on Your PC to Promote Windows 10?

Gavin Phillips 12-05-2015

The countdown to Windows 10 has begun in earnest, and Microsoft is going to great lengths to ensure each and every Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 user is fully aware. We know that the Windows 10 upgrade will be free Is Your Computer Compatible with Windows 10 & Can You Upgrade? Windows 10 is coming, possibly as soon as July. Are you eager to upgrade and will your system be eligible? In short, if your computer runs Windows 8, it should also run Windows 10. But... Read More for those users, and Microsoft wanted to remind us with a handy notification service that appeared in the recent KB3035583 update.


Is there more to the notification service? Or has Microsoft silently installed adware promoting their Windows 10 roll-out?

Windows 10 Downloader

The update has been criticized for the content it delivered, and the nature of delivery. Update KB3035583 “enabled additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications Fix Windows Update & Make It Less Annoying Without Compromising Security Windows Update can be a nuisance. Here is how you can protect yourself from its annoyances without compromising security. Read More when new updates are available to the user.” It uses the existing update system to introduce alternative avenues of promoting Windows 10.

The update installs four folders to System32. The main folder, called “GWX,” contains 9 files as well as another folder called “Downloads.” Within the GWX folder, an executable named “GWXUXWorker” features a file description of “Get Windows 10 How to Upgrade to Windows 10 via Windows Update Windows 10 is offered as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. When you're ready to upgrade, you can use Windows Update and keep all your installed programs and settings intact. Read More .” Microsoft calling a spade, a spade then. At least we know where we stand on the matter.

Get Windows 10

It also contains a file named “config.xml” which, when opened in a text editor, reveals itself to be a sort of running script for how the countdown to Windows 10 will play out. Each part of the timeline is a different phase. During the first “none” phase – which we presume is currently active – none of the features are active Under the Hood: 6 Hidden Windows 10 Features You Can Unlock Windows 10 is full of secrets and surprises. Some new features are just not very well known, yet. Here are six tips for customizing your Windows 10 experience. Read More .


The second “AnticipationUX” phase sees true statements for arguments <AntUXProcess>, <TrayIcon>, and <Advertisment>, presumably injecting a tray icon and advertisement into your desktop, possibly via a Live Tile How To Get Novel Windows 10 Features On Windows 7 Or 8.1 It's time to upgrade your Windows experience. Short of installing a new operating system, you can get awesome features with third party applications. Windows 10 is not that novel after all. Read More .

The third “Reservation” phase will feature <ReservationPage>, confirming the individual intention to upgrade, or a notification that the individuals system has a copy of Windows 10 reserved.Phases

It is currently a recommended update, meaning it won’t auto-install, though we have heard some speculative reports that it will become an important system update as the Windows 10 release date edges closer, giving Microsoft the change to really drive the upgrade message home.

Is It Adware?

Microsoft is ramping up Windows 10 promotion activity. Chatter is on the rise. Conferences are in abundance. Microsoft is looking to assure us that Windows 10 is the best thing since sliced-bread Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More – all the while reminding us of the price tag: free.



It makes the inclusion of hidden adware all the more baffling, as if it would realistically slip under the radar throughout the technology world. And the answer to the question is yes. Any software installed to an operating system without announcing its true credentials, that is then used to display adverts without the users express consent is definitively adware.

Sure, Microsoft probably doesn’t see it that way. It isn’t acting as an access point for other malicious code and it only advertises the new operating system, within a Microsoft developed environment.

Implications for Windows 10

Are we worried about this somewhat underhand adware installation technique? After all, we’d be spitting chips if this had larger malicious potential. Luckily for us and Microsoft, it is relatively benign, but it could still have implications for the Windows 10 release.


Introducing dedicated adware for Microsoft promotional activities opens the Redmond-based tech-giant up for scrutiny. Microsoft has repeatedly and consistently informed us that Windows 10 is to be a free upgrade. App developers have shown that running both ad-free and ad-supported versions of even the most popular applications to be immensely successful, while catering to both markets. Happy consumers, increased market capitalization: win-win.


The flip side of this is ingrained in Windows 10’s upcoming update system. Microsoft has confirmed Update Tuesday will cease, replaced with higher-frequency, more consistent updates arriving when ready. These updates aren’t limited to the operating system either, and will feature regular updates for Windows software, such as Office.

Who is to say Microsoft won’t introduce further advertising to the Windows 10 operating system down the line, using this to moderate a continual flow of income while maintaining a single operating system? We will certainly have to thoroughly examine the Windows 10 License Agreement when it arrives on our desktops.


Uninstall KB3035583

For those who have already installed the KB3035583 update, all is not lost. Microsoft has not updated their adware to begin the Windows 10 push, and you can happily remove the offending files.

Here are guides for removing an update When Windows Update Fails, This Is How You Fix It Did a Windows Update crash your system? Here's a quick list of troubleshooting steps that will help you restore Windows to a functional state. Read More for both Windows 7 and Windows 8:

To make sure Windows doesn’t install KB3035583 again, right-click the update and select Hide Update.

Hide Update

Pro Tip: If the GWX.exe file is being particularly stubborn i.e. simply won’t delete, follow this short tutorial to take ownership of the file. Once you own it, you can delete it for good.


Microsoft might be illustrating what’s in store with Windows 10. And Microsoft might have just made a bad move. It is likely too early to make a definitive call on the implications of this somewhat underhand installation, but it will likely disappoint some, and others will be outright furious. I wouldn’t let this choice cloud the overall experience.

Have you removed the update and what do you think about it?

Related topics: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Upgrade.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Bruce
    July 16, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Gavin : I for one don't happen to think that Microsoft is the "de facto evil tech company of the world".

    I for one happen to think that Microsoft AND Google are the TWO de facto evil tech companies of the world" !

    Thanks much for the great and valuable article my friend. : )

  2. Julie
    June 21, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Thank you for posting this. I have the GMX directory but the config files are .cat and .dat. no .xml. And mine must have been installed (withOUT my damn permission thank you very much) with a different update since I have KB3034348 and KB3037576 and nothing between. Of course it doesn't label the updates with "installing adware here nothing to see here move along" or the like, so I don't know which update to kill with fire. Yet.

  3. Tom
    May 26, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    "it only advertises the new operating system" - its not true. When you read info showing KB3035583 before install, that states: This actualization solves problems in system Windows.

  4. Ariane Broome-Hopkins
    May 26, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Thank you for informing us that this had been installed. Nothing is more obnoxious than naggy software *cough*winzip*cough* and having a chance to be informed of this "update" is really helpful. I'm disappointed in Microsoft's approach but I'm really glad that I could get rid of this. I have enough issues with Windows already, this would have just further destroyed my faith in their ability to handle themselves in a manner which lined up with my ability to tolerate them.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      No problem, Ariane, thanks for reading.

  5. Kelsey Tidwell
    May 17, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    I can see both sides of this. I don't really have a bias one way or the other, but I can understand those who do. I've thought about this issue for just long enough to have a couple thoughts on it.
    1) "Thanks Microsoft (this time) because I'm not really all that good at keeping up with trivial minutia that I'm kinda a little interested in but which isn't life-endingly critical".
    2) IF (big if) Apple ever decided to offer a freemium business model like this, I'll just bet they do the same thing. Why? It's the most efficient means.
    Now...that's the extent of the importance of this issue, relevant to my life. See ya' later.
    By the way Gavin, I don't think you're a moron. I don't know why people get so literally angry in forums that they time-travel back to third grade. Very interesting phenomenon though. :D

    • Gavin
      May 19, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Thanks Kelsey. Just giving people the option, and of course, people are entitled to their opinions. But no need for name calling, as you said. It seems MS WaaS model will need further evaluation.

    • Gavin
      May 19, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Thank you to everyone who engaged with this article. Great to see so many people assuredly defending MS after countless years as the de facto evil tech company of the world.

      Another commenter perhaps used a better term: nagware. Whilst the update is free, it doesn't mean everyone wants to switch straight away, if at all, and they should be given the option to select the advertising module present on their system.

      Once again, thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

  6. thanks for the info
    May 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I'm not sure why some readers have taken exception to the article since they're free to leave the update on their computers if they don't mind nagware but I appreciate the alert and would not have allowed the installation if Microsoft had been more forthcoming about its nature.

    • Gavin
      May 19, 2015 at 7:55 am

      Indeed - exactly why I included details of how to block the update if a user doesn't want it. Thanks for reading!

  7. dragonmouth
    May 13, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    All these Window Fans sound like Fruitco Faithful. Microsoft can do no wrong! By the time you people realize that MS can and does, it will be too late.

    • OnlyGeek
      May 14, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      And what are you? A rotten apple fan? People here are just pointing out how innocuous this update is, and not the hell on earth as the title promotes.
      Of course MS has done a lot of bad things, like Skype spying or the XBox line of consoles, but it's not the case here.
      So chill out and let's talk about other matters.

  8. charmingguy
    May 13, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    As I have set Windows Update to : " check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them". I also have set it to important updates only. I ignore optional updates and I also do not receive updates for other Window services. Why clog my device with updates I don't need.

    So I just checked my Windows updates. I have 38 important updates and 2 optional. So I checked all 38 but NO KB 3035583!

    So I must have the right setting as I did not get this junk.

    PS I would be really interested in an article about Windows Update settings I have chosen. Is this a good tactic etc.

    PSS I wearing my tinfoil hat now. LOL.


    • Gavin
      May 19, 2015 at 7:54 am

      Thanks charmingguy. Tin foil hats are all the rage these days.

  9. Louie
    May 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    The operating system may belong to Microsoft, but the hardware it runs on belongs to me. Shouldn't I have full control of my hardware? Would you be happy if you fancy new self driving car always drovpast the dealership and "reminded" you that the new madel was available?

  10. Ian
    May 12, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Actually, even if you don't have a valid Windows 7 or 8 license you can upgrade to Window 10. Microsoft is going to allow the Windows 10 upgrade for pirated systems, too. It will continue to be pirated, but it will upgrade.

    And I agree, if this is Adware, then the definition of adware is incorrect.

  11. Ian
    May 12, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    My point? My point is thank you Microsoft. Your point is what - 'I'm afraid!'

    Do you currently have ads in your Windows 7, 8, and 8.1? I didn't think so. Do you think you will get ads if you don't upgrade? Do you think you'll get ads if you do upgrade? I don't understand your logic.

    If you 'shiver' at tiles, you should probably just step away from your computer. Tiles are brilliant. Ask any software developer - the program ICON is a window into the content and status and other such stuff '- of the program or data. Brilliant. Apple and Android will have them ASAP.

    And I'm sure you don't know that you can turn off 'live tiles'. Why are you afraid of live tiles? Who told you they were bad?

    • mrpib
      May 12, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      I do not agree its adware. They are just preparing users for the next Windows. Users with a valid Windows license get to upgrade free.

  12. Ian
    May 12, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Are you saying Google with Chrome is altruistic? No profit motivation at all? Who are the fools again?

    Try this: "Even though Google Chrome is free to consumers, it [Google] is still a for-profit operation."

    Or this: [Chrome is free to] "Lure people into upgrading and see more revenue-generating ads"

    Back to the point, I think it's great 'Customer Service' from Microsoft to notify me when Windows 10 is available - for free. Anybody that doesn't agree with that may not be fools, but they sure don't like Microsoft or Windows. An agenda, like I said previously.

    Windows 10 will probably be the largest (2.2-3Gb) software distribution in history. Staging this takes lots of planning. Do they notify all 200 million desktops at once? Smart? Or, maybe just 1 million per day or week? Do they do this from within the operating system, or using the public airwaves (like this forum). That's a no-brainer decision.

    You and the author think it's not OK. But you don't really mention why. Why is it not OK?

    • Tina
      May 12, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      I don't understand your logic regarding Chrome, Ian. I think we all understand how Google makes money with Chrome. From what I can see, Chrome itself is ad-free. Google's search engine of course isn't and people use it when they use Chrome. Now what's your point?

      I think Windows ads in Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 are not OK because it turns a Windows version I paid for into adware, which doesn't seem right. Whether or not it's successful is a different story.

      I guess it also depends on how the "service message" about a free Windows 10 upgrade is delivered. I shiver at the thought of stuff like tiles on the Start Screen or screensavers being used to promote Windows 10. Those are terrible practices that will most certainly backfire. A simple one-time notification informing those interested is a different story.

  13. Tina
    May 12, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    It's great to see so many people in support of Microsoft and very surprised in this case. I just wish you lot were as friendly as the new Microsoft when delivering your critique. :)

    To be clear, the update can be considered adware. Here's a definition to remind you what adware is:

    Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software package which automatically renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements may be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process.

    Even though Windows 10 will be free for consumers, it's still a for-profit operation. Microsoft is of course hoping to somehow make more revenue with its new Windows than with its old. You'd be fools if you believed otherwise.

    Since Windows by itself doesn't make money anymore, they'll have to sell services. So there is a high likelihood that a free Windows 10 will come with these kinds of ads - to promote Microsoft products for profit. This shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone and actually I think it's OK, given the license agreement is clear.

    Whether it's OK to launch ads on a version of Windows that wasn't free at all to lure people into upgrading and see more revenue-generating ads, well, that's a matter of debate. The author thinks it's not OK and I agree. If you disagree, I'd like to hear your arguments. Insults will be deleted.

    • Walker
      May 13, 2015 at 4:31 am

      "in order to generate revenue for its author" - "Even though Windows 10 will be free for consumers, it’s still a for-profit operation". Whether Windows is profit or non-profit is besides the point. Your definition is "in order to". Does the popup fill this? Without a doubt, NO. If this popped up on PC that can not upgrade for free, then it fits the description. On Windows 7, this is not adware by your own definition.

    • Walker
      May 13, 2015 at 4:45 am

      For this to be adware, they would have to be selling something. As long as this only gets installed on machines that upgrade is free, there is no sell, and therefore it isnt adware. If a pop-up displayed on your machine telling you something your system can do that you didnt know about, it would be information. That is what this is in my book. How many users will know that they can upgrade their system for free? Now once this pops up, I would expect it to allow the user to select to never see it again. If this is not included and the popup continues often, I can imagine the user rightfully getting upset. That is what is so infuriating about adware is that it attemps to remove the users ability to control their content. So as long as this is a one-off, I am pretty happy that it is a service announcement and not malicous.

    • my10cents
      May 13, 2015 at 5:14 am

      I don't think your Win 7, 8, or 8.1 will have any Win 10 ads pop up on your desktop. You might get an upgrade reminder from Windows update or perhaps the Windows store but that's should be the extent of the 'adware'. Since the Win 10 previews have expiration dates it is in MSFT's best interest to make sure those users are aware of the RTM version when it becomes available so they don't forget to upgrade and prevent an unexpected problem when their preview version expires.

  14. Ian
    May 12, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Shock journalism.

    Microsoft added an update to Windows that allows/facilitates the install Windows 10 for free when available. Now, if this was on Android or iOS systems it would be considered adware. On a Windows system it is called customer service.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world:

    Where's the shock article on Google Chrome Add-in's that are causing 'adware' havoc on desktops across the world. They are barely mentioned anywhere but are causing more problems than an update offering an update - for free - from MS.

    Agendas. That's all this is.

    • Tina
      May 12, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      When was the last time you paid for Google Chrome or one of its ad-ins, Ian?

      When I pay for software, I expect it to be ad free.

      Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 aren't free. These versions of Windows aren't supposed to be ad-supported because users (indirectly at least) already paid to use Windows.

      Of course advertising for a free upgrade to Windows 10 isn't terrible and personally I love Windows 10 so far. It's a matter of principle, though.

  15. Matthew Whited
    May 12, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    This author is a moron. This update is to ensure you can get windows 10 for free when it is released.

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      I'm aware that's what it is for. I've acknowledged that in the article. I don't think the update should act as adware, projecting ads onto your start menu or desktop.

      Could you elaborate on why you think it is okay for MS to do that?

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Also I'm not a moron. That is unjustified.

    • Ian
      May 12, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      I'll elaborate Gavin.

      It is OK to do it this way so 200 Million desktops don't try the download/upgrade right after the evening news announcing that Windows 10 is available to the public.

      This is a staged upgrade. It needs some intelligence to do that. This KB provides that intelligence.

      Windows 10 is larger than 2Gb. 1 Million per day would be larger than 2000 TerraBytes or 2 PetaBytes of downloads. They expect 'at least' 200 million downloads the first year. Now that's big data. The KB isn't just a good idea, it's required.

      Thanks again Microsoft. Great Customer Support.

  16. Chrisc
    May 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    This is the stupidest article I have read in some time, the operating system belongs to Microsoft as does the update, by definition its considered a "new feature". Calling it malicious software is simply ignorant, and makes your attempt at trying to pass this article off as good reporting transparent. You have lost your credibility with most who read this article, excluding the old folks who are easily scared by bullshit propaganda like this.

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      I'm not calling the operating system malicious - I was looking to understand more about MS thought process. Installing an update that displays ads without explicitly engaging the user is pretty adware-like, in my book.

  17. Gavin
    May 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I'm still using W7, as never liked 8, but I think you're in someways. MS have been much more thorough with their testing this time around, and have countless more participants, looking to avoid the zero-day bugs that plagued the W8, and even W8.1 releases.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  18. t
    May 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    This is a ridiculous article and the author should be ashamed of themselves.

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      Not at all. I'm counteracting all of my M$ backhanders by writing something negative for once. I'm never ashamed.

      Are you happy with the update?

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  19. James Haberberger
    May 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I already have windows 10 pro technical preview on my surface pro tablet and it is great! As for the adware.... haven't noticed.

  20. Kay D. Baker
    May 12, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    I am not going to abandon 8.1 for some time. I want to make sure windows is not selling another pig-in-a-poke as has been the case in the past. Let the techies and treckies slobber and fall all over themselves to be first with 10, only to have it come a cropper with a s___ load of errors and problems.

    • curious
      May 18, 2015 at 8:28 am

      Take this. Net framework 4.0 is replaced with 4.5 on win7 system automatically and application using 4.0 stop working (because .net framework 4.0 is erased from pc without notice by auto updater - is that OK? ), but wtf net framework is designed to work "side by side" as i recall properly!
      Moral: To force users upgrade from winXP they made that move because .net framework 4 is last supported on winXP and i am proud "OWNER" of winXP license. Further i blocked all automatic updates because it is nonsense to have it active.

  21. Gavin
    May 12, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    No, not at all. This "update" introduced a previously unheard of file containing instructions to display ads relating to the W10 release date. If you're happy with that, fine, but I think quite a few people would be concerned with Microsoft and their approach to providing this information.

    I also think a fair few of those concerned wouldn't mind if Microsoft said "look, this update is called the Windows10 Countdown. It'll add a live tile to let you know when your update is ready," rather than installing it via an unmarked update.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Ian
      May 12, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      "...previously unheard of file....containing display ads....relating to the W10 release date."


      Again, thank you Microsoft. Excellent Customer Service.

    • my10cents
      May 13, 2015 at 5:05 am

      Since all the Win 10 'free' technical previews will expire then in order to make sure that you don't blame MSFT for bricking your machine this is probably designed to make sure that you know when the 'released' version is ready so you have time to replace the preview. Since nobody has the final (released) version yet you cannot say for certain that it will not allow for the user to have some control over the OS update reminders. Also, it will be in MSFT's and the consumers best interest to keep all Win 10 installs relatively recent especially considering how quickly the market needs to react to changes. I certainly hope that Win 10 allows MSFT to use small and innocuous downloads to keep my OS current. I can remember how horrible it was to make sure that computers running XP were up to date. Too many people just forgot to maintain their updates and when you to fix, upgrade, or install something it took hours.

      The paranoia of this article is very premature and the reasoning is exuding a definite offal like odor.

  22. bob
    May 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Actually we know Microsoft is intending to deliver ads through the OS. It was demonstrated during the //BUILD keynote. They call it "App Discovery" but it is just ads delivered through the start menu and the spotlight screensaver. The screensaver is optional but the "recommended" apps on the start screen will not be, at least in the consumer/free version. I suspect this will be policy controlled in corporate/VL installations.

  23. Watever
    May 12, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I guess every update to any software is considered adware? ridiculous article.

  24. Geoff Wants Windows 10
    May 12, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    There is ALWAYS someone in the crowd!!!

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      You got me.

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      You found me.

  25. Not Interested
    May 12, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I especially liked the fake popups in the header image. FUD!

  26. Booyah
    May 12, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Exactly my thoughts. The author needs to remove that tin foil hat

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Sorry you feel like that. You really don't mind that Microsoft installed an update that displays an ad on your desktop, or in your start menu?

  27. Josh Usovsky
    May 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    This is some ridiculous paranoia. Better put that aluminum foil hat on before Microsoft installs a new version of Solitaire designed to read your thoughts.

    • brian
      May 12, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      I couldn't agree more. By this silly definition of adware any software that has an automatic update feature the prompts when updates are available is adware. That would include things like Evernote, WinZip and about every other decent piece of software out there.

    • Gavin
      May 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      But I have option to turn that off at installation, or within the program. This update doesn't afford the same access.

    • michel
      May 13, 2015 at 12:23 am

      Sure it does. You explain how to turn it off in the article.

    • Gavin
      May 14, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Sort of. I don't have to uninstall Evernote etc to stop the notifications. You have to remove the update and associated files for this one.