For most of the past year, Microsoft has largely refused to change controversial Windows 10 policies, no matter how unhappy a vocal minority of users were over the company’s new strategy. Telemetry tracking, mandatory updates that combine security and non-security features, and the company’s insistence on an increasingly pushy Windows 10 upgrade schedule have all been impervious to consumer demands, though it did modify a plan to kill Skylake support for Windows 7 just 18 months after the platform launched and it did start handing out patch notes.
Earlier this week, we reported how Microsoft’s latest change to Windows 10’s upgrade policies turned the OS into borderline malware and resulted in thousands of customers crying foul as they were unexpectedly upgraded to Windows 10 without realizing they’d provided consent for the process. The hue and cry that went up in the wake of the change has apparently clued Microsoft in to the idea that there are limits to what consumers are willing to accept — and that forcing people to use an operating system by deliberately using dark patterns to exploit their understanding of how to opt out of an upgrade might just be a bad idea in the long run.
According to the BBC, Microsoft will modify its policies as follows:
We’ve added another notification that confirms the time of the scheduled upgrade and provides the customer an additional opportunity for cancelling or rescheduling the upgrade.
If the customer wishes to continue with their upgrade at the designated time, they can click ‘OK’ or close the notifications with no further action needed.
Brad Chacos, the PC World editor who first publicized these changes, wasn’t impressed with the new change. “I don’t think that adding more pestering pop-ups improves the situation,” Chacos told the BBC.” At the very least they should add a large, obvious ‘No, I don’t want this’ button.”
It’s time for Microsoft to come to terms with a simple fact: Not everyone is going to want to upgrade to Windows 10 right now. Some people are still leery of Microsoft’s telemetry practices and forced updates. Some are using legacy hardware or software without Windows 10 compatibility. Some are part of enterprises or businesses that aren’t interested in upgrading at the moment, and some people just don’t want the latest version of Windows for reasons of their own.
Microsoft can ask people to upgrade. It can cajole. It can offer free periods or special offers or discounted purchase prices in the future. There are many ways to deal with this situation and many of them could create significant consumer goodwill.
But it’s time to stop clinging to practices that have only poisoned the well against future Windows upgrades and stop trying to force the software down people’s throats. No matter how the company chooses to deal with the future of Windows, mandatory upgrades through malware-like tactics are precisely the wrong option.