Microsoft preps PCs for Windows 10 with more auto updates

'Don't think you can skip' these latest Windows Update updates, Microsoft manager tells skittish users

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Mark Hachman

Microsoft last week continued to deliver automatic updates to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs to prep them for the summer upgrade to Windows 10.

A pair of updates pushed to customers -- one for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), another for Windows 8.1 Update -- were billed as allowing users "to upgrade your computer ... to a later version of Windows."

Joseph Conway, a senior program manager with the Windows deployment group, tried to clarify what the updates were for in an April 14 blog post, but still took heat from users.

"These WU [Windows Update] clients are used as part of the Windows 10 upgrade scenarios which will go live at release but are still used for down-level operating systems as the 'regular' Windows Update client," wrote Conway. "This update is applicable to your systems even if you're not planning to migrate to Windows 10, so don't think you can skip it."

Microsoft pegged the updates as "Important," meaning that they were automatically downloaded and installed on PCs where Windows Update had been left with its default settings intact.

Patch-hijinks guru Woody Leonard of Infoworld first reported Conway's comments last week. (Like Computerworld, Infoworld is owned by IDG.)

Last week's KB2990214 (Windows 7) and KB3044374 (Windows 8.1) updates were refreshes of ones offered several times already, first  last October but then only to users who had signed up for the Windows 10 preview. Now, they are being served to all customers running those operating systems.

That bothered some, who said the updates' lack of detail and split purposes were insulting. Commenters were noticeably skittish about the updates because of what they'd heard about Microsoft seeding consumer PCs with an automatic update that will pitch the free Windows 10 upgrade via on-screen notifications and advertisement-like banners and tiles.

"Information ... that's what we are all looking for," commented someone identified only as "Don't leave us in the dark" on Conway's post. "You expect us to read [the description] and immediately understand that this [is] actually NOT related to upgrading our computer but to ongoing installation of patches and updates? And then you have the audacity to say, 'Don't think you can skip it.' Wow."

"The issue is not that we do not want Windows 10. The problem is that we do not know if we want it and refuse to be stampeded into it on Microsoft's schedule," chimed in "Canadian tech."

Conway issued a mea culpa, acknowledging that the updates' titles "could likely have been much better worded."

Even that got a rise out of one user. "Give us a break," wrote Noel Carboni. "That wording was clearly chosen to deceive people into allowing you to get your foot in the door further to force them off the older system they're using. Stop being devious and people will stop accusing you of being devious."

Conway said nothing about the March non-security update -- identified by Microsoft as KB3035583 -- which laid the foundation for a Windows 10 marketing and upgrade campaign. That update has not been revamped since then, although its contents was marked as "version 1.0," hinting that more would follow.

Microsoft regularly updates the Windows Update client within its operating systems, but clearly the news about a series of on-screen Windows 10 "nags" has struck a nerve with some: They wanted Microsoft to flesh out the updates' descriptions so that they could make an informed decision.

"I wanted an assurance from Microsoft that under no circumstances will our users be prompted that Windows 10 is available or that they should upgrade," said Glenn Turner in another comment. "We will upgrade to Windows 10, but on our schedule."

"Please, give us accurate information about what these updates do, how they work, and what is needed to install them. Kindly leave the decision making to us," added "Don't leave us in the dark."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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