Software

Five ways Microsoft plans to get you to upgrade to Windows 10

To achieve its goal of getting one billion people onto Windows 10, Microsoft is getting more forceful in how it pushes Windows 7 and 8.1 users towards its new OS.

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Image: Nick Statt/CNET

Microsoft wants Windows 10 on one billion devices by 2018 - and its tactics for hitting that ambitious goal are about to get more aggressive.

From next year, Microsoft will be more direct in pushing Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade to its latest OS, in an attempt to bolster the 110 million-strong Windows 10 userbase.

Here's how Microsoft is about to crank up the pressure to make the switch.

1. Windows 10 will automatically begin installing itself

From "early next year", Microsoft will change the status of the free Windows 10 upgrade so it is classified as a Recommended Update.

Given that most home machines are set up to install Recommended Updates automatically, the change to Windows 10's update status will lead to most Windows 7 and 8.1 machines beginning the upgrade.

However, Microsoft says that before Windows 10 is installed users will need to manually confirm the installation, giving them a chance to pull out.

Business users should be able to prevent the upgrade from automatically starting using tools such as Windows Server Update Services.

For those on metered connections, Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive VP of the Windows and Devices Group, said people "have the option of turning off automatic updates" before going on to say that such a move is unwise because of "the constant risk of internet threats".

Those who don't like the new OS will have 31 days to roll back to their previous version of Windows. To go back, select "Start Button->Settings->Update and Security->Recovery and Uninstall Windows 10".

2. Upgrade notifications will be made more obvious

Despite Microsoft sticking a 'Get Windows 10' icon on the taskbar of most Windows 7 desktops, many customers apparently still can't figure out how to initiate the upgrade.

Myerson says since launching Windows 10 the number one complaint has been 'How do I get my upgrade?'.

To address the difficulty some users are having, Myerson said Microsoft will change "our notifications to be more approachable and hopefully clear, and sometimes fun".

3. Upgrades will happen immediately

The process of initiating the upgrade to Windows 10 has also been streamlined.

In the weeks after Windows 10's launch earlier this year, Microsoft required users to first reserve a Windows 10 upgrade, which would then be installed at a later date.

Microsoft has now replaced that two-step process with an immediate upgrade. Users clicking on the 'Get Windows 10' icon will now be given the option to 'Upgrade Now' to begin the upgrade process straightaway.

4. Simpler upgrade from unsanctioned copies of Windows

Myerson admits surprise at how many people running copies of Windows 7 and 8.1 that have not been authenticated then go on to buy Genuine copies of Windows 10.

Based on this experience, Microsoft plans to make it a "one-click" process for people running unsanctioned copies of the OS to "get Genuine" via the Windows Store or by entering an activation code bought elsewhere. The offer will be trialled in the US and, if successful, may be extended to other countries.

5. Upgrading multiple machines to Windows 10 will be easier

Those looking to upgrade several Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 machines to Windows 10 will soon find the process gets more straightforward.

Microsoft's Media Creation Tool is used to create an image that can be run off a DVD or USB stick to upgrade qualifying machines to Windows 10.

According to Myerson, you will soon be able to use the tool to create a single image that will allow any number of 32-bit or 64-bit, Home or Pro machines to be upgraded and which will also allow for clean installs "wherever you have a Windows license".

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Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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