Windows 10 forced updates -- lots of blame to go around

There have been many reports of people whose computers were updated to Windows 10 without their permission. Even here in Computerworld, Preston Gralla wrote that it happened to his wife. Same thing for Brad Chacos of our sister site PCWorld.

People are mad at Microsoft, quite understandably. But, let's call a spade a spade.

Any computer that was upgraded to Windows 10 by Microsoft's automated procedure, was being cared for by someone who was not paying attention.

My wife's Windows 7 computer was not automatically upgraded to Windows 10 by Microsoft. Its nothing to be proud of, I was just paying attention. 

There was lots of warning. 

It was well covered, way back, that Microsoft was going to abuse the "install recommended updates" option of Windows Update to install Windows 10. Anyone paying attention could have spent a minute turning that checkbox off.

And, you would have had to have had your head in the sand, not to have heard of GWX Control Panel, a frequently recommended program that was on the front lines of blocking Windows 10 very early in the game. 

Serious techies would have known about Ed Bott's article, How to block Windows 10 upgrades on your business network (and at home, too), that first appeared in January of this year. Bott describes registry changes that block the installation of Windows 10. 

Then too, Microsoft published documentation on using both the Group Policy Editor and the registry to block the installation of Windows 10. 

At the end of March things got brutally simple. Steve Gibson's Never10 offered a single button click that blocked Windows 10. In addition to the blocking, Never10 also checks for the necessary software pre-reqs and installed any required software on its own. Its Windows 10 blocking for Dummies.

Now, people want the EFF to go after Microsoft. Sure, Microsoft is a bad guy in all this, but they don't deserve all the blame. If you have an accident while texting on a phone, its not the fault of Ford or Chrysler. You weren't paying attention. 

But what about non-techies using Windows on their own, without technical assistance? 

That people have resorted to turning off Windows Update to block the Windows 10 upgrade, shows that many people are in over their heads with Windows.

The fact is, Windows needs a ton of care and feeding besides just blocking Windows 10.

Out of the box, a Windows computer is miserably configured and includes unwanted and unneeded software that slows things down and may well make the system more vulnerable. It is also missing software that many people want, with perhaps Chrome and Firefox leading the list. 

Worse however, is that each application still has to re-invent the wheel to self-update, something that is disgracefully archaic. As a result, there are at least a dozen different software update mechanisms that a Windows user has to deal with for the ongoing and critical task of keeping software updated.

Frankly, it takes a techie to keep a Windows machine reasonably secure. 

A non-techie using Windows on their own, should seriously consider another operating system

I suspect that many people use Windows because that's all they know. The tech press needs to remind non-techies of how dangerous it can be to run Windows without ongoing technical assistance. The issue of Windows 10 upgrades shows that swimming in the ocean without lifeguards on duty, is a bad idea. 

I am not here to plug another operating system, with one exception. For the least technical amongst us, the choice is clear. 

Grandma should get a Chromebook, the only computer that requires no care and feeding on the part of the end user. None. Nada. Zilch. It's really a remarkable feat and one that I hope doesn't change with the introduction of Android to Chrome OS. Sometimes, less is indeed, more. 

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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