Windows 10 is now a recommended update for Windows 7 and 8.1. Those who haven’t upgraded yet, will once more be prompted to install Microsoft’s latest operating system. If updates are set to download automatically, Windows 10 will be hogging around 5 GB of space while you decide whether or not to install it.
If you’re not keen on running Windows 10 or if your Internet bandwidth is limited, it’s high time to take action. Windows 10 could already be downloading in the background. Stop it now!
What Happened Previously
In late October, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President Terry Myerson announced that the upgrade to Windows 10 will become easier.
Early next year, we expect to be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a “Recommended Update”. Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device. Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue.
He also reassured users that they will be able to decline the upgrade offer or roll back to their previous Windows version within 31 days.
Why This Upgrade Remains Problematic
Undermining User Choice
Windows 10 now comes disguised as an everyday Windows update. Even though the Get Windows 10 notification has been pestering users for months, this new approach will certainly fool users into upgrading. One might suspect that this is the whole point because anyone who wanted to upgrade could have done so since July last year.
While users have to Accept the Windows 10 License Terms before the upgrade starts, it’s not immediately clear what is being accepted or declined. Note how the window is called Windows Update and the first mention of Windows 10 is in the small print.
Once a user clicks Decline, the process is aborted, but the optional update and the installation files will hang around, waiting to be triggered again.
If you click Accept, the upgrade actually won’t start immediately. Windows will prepare things in the background, scan for apps that have to be removed prior to upgrading, and then inform you that the upgrade is ready to install. This time, not a single word about Windows 10. And at that point, it looks like you can no longer opt out.
Neither the Taskbar, nor the Task Manager will let you abort the upgrade. Your only option is to schedule the upgrade for later. Restarting will immediately initiate the upgrade.
Even if you manage to escape the Windows 10 vortex, by the time you’re asked whether you want to upgrade, much of the damage has been done.
The Windows 10 installation files take up almost 5 GB of disk space. Freeing up that space is easy — we show you how below –, but try to get back your 3 GB of Internet bandwidth it took to download Windows 10. If you weren’t wise enough to set Windows Update to let you choose whether to download or schedule downloads for free bandwidth times, you’re screwed.
Microsoft’s Marketings Chief Chris Capossela argued on Windows Weekly that Windows 10 is a much better place than its predecessors. In part due to novel features, such as support for modern hardware and games, but also because of improved security.
We do worry when people are running an operating system that’s 10 years old that the next printer they buy isn’t going to work well, or they buy a new game, they buy Fallout 4, a very popular game, and it doesn’t work on a bunch of older machines. And so, as we are pushing our ISV [Independent Software Vendor] and hardware partners to build great new stuff that takes advantage of Windows 10, that obviously makes the old stuff really bad, and not to mention viruses and security problems.
Security is a moot point. Windows 7 and 8.1 are on extended support until 2020 and 2023, respectively. In fact, Windows 8.1 is on mainstream support until 2018.
While Windows 7 won’t receive new features, such as support for Direct X 12, it will receive security patches and hotfixes for several more years. With these support lifecycles, Microsoft guarantees the basic security and functionality of their operating systems.
Meanwhile, Windows 10 isn’t flawless. It may offer novel features and improved security, but it’s also laden with privacy issues, will strain your bandwidth with large updates, can auto-remove apps, is said to be spying on its users, and finds ever new ways of serving ads. And most importantly, you’ll still have to use third party tools to fend off viruses and malware.
How to NOT Upgrade
If you’re on the fence about Windows 10 or violently opposing the upgrade, here’s what you need to do to stay with your preferred Windows version.
Disable Recommended Updates
Head to Windows Update and check your settings. Press the Windows key, type Windows Update, and select the respective search result. If you catch Windows 10 downloading, cancel it by hitting Stop download.
From the sidebar, select Change settings and under the Recommended updates header, remove the checkmark to “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates.” Click OK to confirm your changes.
Back on the general Windows Update window, select Check for updates and wait until the checking has completed. If Windows 10 has not been downloaded to your system, yet, what you see should resemble the screenshot below.
Click Show all available updates, switch to the Optional tab, and find the Upgrade to Windows 10 update. Remove the checkmark, right-click the update, and select Hide update. Now you won’t accidentally download Windows 10 the next time you’re installing optional updates.
Reclaim Disk Space
Should Windows 10 have partially downloaded, you can reclaim the space.
Head to Windows / File Explorer, right click your system drive, select Properties > Disk Cleanup, and wait for the scan to finish. From the results window, select Clean up system files, wait for a second scan, make sure Temporary Windows installation files is checked, click OK, and finally Delete Files to free up the space.
Block Windows 10 Upgrade
Even if you have disabled Recommended updates, chances are Microsoft will keep pushing you to upgrade. Eventually, you’ll get tired of closing the upgrade notifications or disabling updates. Shut them down right now.
GWX Control Panel will remove the Get Windows 10 notification from your system tray, disable the respective update, and also deal with the Upgrade to Windows 10 option in Windows Update.
This powerful script does a little more than blocking the Windows 10 upgrade. It also disables the GWX system tray notification, OneDrive, Telemetry, and a host of other “features”, hides the Windows 10 download directory, uninstalls and hides updates, disables scheduled tasks phoning home to Microsoft, blocks Microsoft-related hosts, and adjusts your Windows Update settings to notify you before downloading or installing available updates. It’s pretty radical, but thoroughly tested.
To run the script, download the master.zip, unzip, right-click aegis.cmd, select Run as administrator, and follow the on-screen instructions. The tool will create a system restore point before it runs.
You can see a full desription and a list of updates that will be disabled on their Voat page. The script was updated in February to deal with the recent Windows 10 update developments.
Downgrade from Windows 10
You accidentally upgraded to Windows 10 or regret your choice? You’re not the first person. Fortunately, Windows 10 has a built-in safety net called Recovery. Within 31 days of the upgrade, you can roll back to your old Windows setup.
Joe Keeley has previously outlined how to downgrade from Windows 10 Windows 7 or 8.1. Briefly, press the keyboard shortcut Windows key + I to launch the Settings app, head to Update & Security > Recovery, find the option to Go back to Windows…, and click Get started. From there on out, follow the on-screen instructions.
Note that once you delete the Windows.old folder, you won’t be able to downgrade anymore. In that case, your only hope is to install your old Windows version from scratch. Hopefully, you have your original product key and Windows installation files at hand.
Upgrade If You Can
With all of this said, we think that the average user should upgrade while Windows 10 is free. In addition to privacy concerns, the only reason to not upgrade is if you depend on software that is no longer supported in Windows 10, such as Windows Media Center. Although note that many missing features can be resurrected.
Windows 10 is delived through Windows Update and the process is smooth for most users, though we strongly recommend a clean installation using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to avoid nasty bugs. You can still take all your apps and settings with you.
Will Windows 10 Prevail?
In January, Windows 10’s market share (11.85%) finally overtook Windows 8.1 (10.4%) and Windows XP (11.42%). It still has a long way to go until it will catch up with Windows 7 (52.47%).
Serious efforts will be needed on Microsoft’s part before the free upgrade expires in July this year. And pushy updates are just the tool to introduce hesitant users to Windows 10, where forced updates are the norm.
What do you think? Is Microsoft being of service or are they taking their upgrade mania too far? Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss!