Critics denounce Windows 10 upgrade changes as PR ploy

Users put 'X-click' backtracking into context; scold Microsoft for goodwill attempt so late in the free upgrade offer's lifespan

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Commenters have scoffed at Microsoft's backtracking from a widely-criticized practice to trick users into upgrading to Windows 10, arguing that it was nothing more than a public relations ploy employed when the free upgrade was just weeks from expiring.

"People have been complaining about GWX [Get Windows 10] since last October. To finally admit there's a problem 1 month before the end of the promotion (and it'll be another week before everyone has this update) is really sad," wrote someone identified as Rossco1337 on a Reddit thread Wednesday.

GWX is the app Microsoft has downloaded and installed -- in many cases multiple times -- on millions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices for more than a year. The app manages the authorization of a free upgrade to Windows 10, displays notices and currently pre-schedules the process.

"[Microsoft] probably [did this] so that years from now, the vague memory will be, 'Microsoft was a bit pushy, but in the end they backed off and gave people choice,'" added illithidbane in the same discussion thread. "They want it to have been pushy for as long as possible, get as many upgrades as possible, but end on a 'high' note."

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it would revise the notification of a pending Windows 10 upgrade so that clicking the red "X" -- an action that for decades has been used to dismiss or ignore a dialog box -- will no longer be interpreted as approving the upgrade.

When the click-x-and-approve-the-upgrade tactic became widely known last month, Windows users blasted the tactic, calling it deceptive because it authorized the upgrade when people believed they were rejecting it.

The revamped GWX will interpret an X-click as the user wanting to temporarily ignore the notice -- it will reappear within a few days -- and presents a choice to decline the upgrade much more prominently. The changed GWX has yet to appear on customers' PCs.

Although Microsoft did not give a specific reason for the changed GWX in a statement attributed to Terry Myerson, head of the firm's Windows and devices group, elsewhere Myerson explained that it originated with user feedback.

"Since we introduced a new upgrade experience for Windows 10, we've received feedback that some of our valued customers found it confusing," Myerson told The Verge this week. "We've been working hard to incorporate their feedback and this week, we'll roll out a new upgrade experience with clear options to upgrade now, schedule a time, or decline the free offer."

Some commentators weren't buying it.

"It's a feeble attempt at gaining the trust back of some of their users by making it seem like they are listening to their users," countered someone labeled program_the_world on Reddit yesterday. "The timing on this is entirely intentional."

The commenter was likely referring to the free upgrade's remaining month; Microsoft will end the one-year deal on July 29, the anniversary of the operating system's launch. After that, licenses to Windows 10 Home will cost.

Commenters also added their two cents to the Computerworld news story outlining the changed GWX. "This is likely just a publicity stunt or an effort at damage control," maintained Michael Lou on Wednesday. "This is a waste of effort [because] there is only 1 month left [before] the upgrade offer expires on 29 July 2016."

"Too late, Microsoft, you had a chance to do this right and you blew it," echoed someone identified only as Rick.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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