It's unlikely that Microsoft's pushing Windows 10 files onto Windows 7 machines

The claim against Microsoft has gone viral overnight, but it doesn’t appear to have any basis in fact

The Inquirer started the latest round of tinfoil hattism. According to a post from Chris Merriman, Microsoft is downloading copies of Windows 10 onto Windows 7 machines, even if the machines haven’t been set up for a Windows 10 upgrade. He says:

An Inquirer reader pointed out to us that, despite not having 'reserved' a copy of Windows 10, he had found that the ~BT folder, which has been the home of images of the new operating system since before rollout began, had appeared on his system. He had no plans to upgrade and had not put in a reservation request.

Merriman supports this assertion with an oddly phrased response attributed to Microsoft:

For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade. When the upgrade is ready, the customer will be prompted to install Windows 10 on the device.

The Microsoft statement doesn’t mention the Windows 10 installation files, which are huge. It may well apply to updates to various ancillary files, which are tiny (but, yes, potentially troublesome).

The offal hit the impellers. In this two-plus-two-equals-ten environment of mainstream media Win10 hysteria, the attributed Microsoft statement swelled to the status of verifying that yes, indeed, Microsoft is downloading 3GB or 5GB of installation files onto machines that aren’t likely to get Windows 10. Pshaw.

Reddit took off with a general rehash of the old “disable all of these patches in Windows Update” argument, blaming Microsoft’s new propensity to force installation bits on all and sundry. Slashdot sprouted a lengthy stream of “switch to Linux” entreaties, damning Microsoft for pushing what isn’t wanted. This morning, the tech and mainstream press are both picking up on the scent as well.

You know what’s missing in all of this? First-hand confirmation of Microsoft’s alleged transgressions.

There are a couple of comments from people who claim to be getting the Win10 installation bits without signing up for the upgrade. That’s about it. And it’s very hard to tell if, perhaps, the ones getting stuffed accidentally clicked on the “Reserve your free upgrade” notification.

If you’re running Windows 7 or 8.1, and you haven’t clicked the “Reserve your free upgrade” button, take a look and see for yourself. If you’re getting unbidden bits, they’re sitting in a hidden folder called c:\ $Windows.~BT and the folder should have 3 or more GB of data.

Anybody out there seeing an unwanted download? Are you absolutely sure you didn’t click the “Reserve your free upgrade” button in response to the GWX “Windows 10 is coming / Get it for free” notification? Tell me about it in the comments.

Sorry. Color me skeptical.

There are plenty of good reasons to move to Windows 10, and lots of reasons to hold off. You have every right to kvetch about Microsoft’s forced advertising on Windows 7 and 8.1 systems -- an unprecedented move that will come back to haunt the company, mark my words.

But let’s focus on the real problems, OK?

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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