Windows 10 will become a 'recommended update' that starts automatically

Microsoft is introducing new measures to get Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users to upgrade to Windows 10 - including one that will initiate upgrades automatically in 2016.

Microsoft reaches out to users with illegal copies of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

Starting early next year, Microsoft will make Windows 10 a 'recommended update' — a type of update file that automatically downloads and installs on many users' computers. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Microsoft is introducing new measures to get Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users to upgrade to Windows 10.

Starting early next year, it will make Windows 10 a "recommended update" — a type of update file, typically a security or bug fix, that automatically downloads and installs on many users' computers. Enabling automatic updates is the default setting and recommended by Microsoft to make sure your computer is protected by the latest security patches.

"Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device," wrote Terry Myerson, executive vice-president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, on the company's Windows Experience blog.

But users will be "clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue," before the process actually completely changes the operating system of your device, Myerson added.

Before becoming a "recommended update" in 2016, Windows 10 soon will be published as an "optional update." That will also give users the option to use Windows Update to upgrade.

Microsoft was criticized in September when users complained that Windows 10 was being automatically downloaded to some computers even if they didn't indicate they were interested in upgrading. Microsoft said that was happening to users with Windows Update automatic updates enabled in order to provide "a smoother upgrade experience."

Critics were upset about the covert nature of the download and some complained it ate up hard drive space and internet bandwidth, potentially pushing users over their internet package's download limit and resulting in extra charges.

In the company's latest blog post, Myerson says Windows 7 and Windows 8 users worried about their download limits once Windows 10 becomes a "recommended update" can turn off automatic updates, but "we strongly discourage this in today's connected world because of the constant risk of internet threats."

He added that Windows 10 has tools that help users monitor internet usage and data usage quotas, and settings that prevent it from automatically downloading updates on "metered" internet connections, except in cases where a security fix needs to be applied.

Upgrade reversible

All users who upgrade to Windows 10 are able to roll their device back to their previous operating system for the first 31 days after the upgrade if they want to.

Microsoft made Windows 10 available as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users in July. It will continue to be free for those users until next July.

The company aims to have Windows 10 installed on a billion devices within the next three years, Myerson said at the company's annual Build conference in San Francisco in April.

So far, it has been installed on 110 million, the blog post said.

Some other measures Microsoft is implementing to encourage wider adoption include making its "free upgrade" notifications "more approachable and hopefully clear" and a pilot program in the U.S. to encourage users with illegal copies of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to buy a genuine copy of Windows 10. That program will offer users a "one-click opportunity" to buy Windows 10 online at the Windows Store or install it using an activation code purchased elsewhere.

"If this turns into a path for most customers to get genuine, we will expand the experiment," Myerson wrote. "We'd like to welcome as many of these customers as possible to the legitimate Windows ecosystem."


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