Software

Windows 10: Is Microsoft preparing to fix one of its users' biggest complaints?

Microsoft appears to be getting ready to address some complaints about Windows 10, as well as holding its hands up to getting too aggressive in its upgrade push.

Image: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

Last year Microsoft faced repeated criticism over its handling of Windows 10, whether that was "tricking" Windows 7 users to upgrade or buggy updates being forced on users.

While Microsoft reversed a few decisions after the user backlash, it ignored other complaints. But as the new year gets underway, there are signs the firm may tackle some of users' biggest gripes about Windows 10.

A recurring grievance for users last year were glitches in Windows 10's frequent updates. Problems caused by these updates ranged from frozen systems and broken webcams to Windows 10 PCs not being able to connect to the internet. Since Home edition users can't put off installing updates, they couldn't hold off patching machines until these issues were resolved.

Perhaps in light of last year's problem patches, Microsoft appears to be about to offer more options for deferring updates. A leaked preview build of Window 10 shows a new option to pause updates for up to 35 days, enabled via a switch in the Settings menu.

More control over updates isn't the only highly sought-after feature thought to be on its way.

Windows 10 dropped Windows 8.1's OneDrive smart files, placeholders that let users see all of their files in OneDrive cloud storage, whether or not those files were also stored on the device.

Following demands for placeholders to be brought back, a similar feature will be introduced in Windows 10 File Explorer this year.

While Microsoft relaxing the pace of updates for Home users would be a positive step, there are several caveats. The pause updates feature is in a leaked internal build of Windows 10, so it's not 100 percent certain when, and even if, the public will get their hands on it. The leaked build is also the Enterprise edition. However, the Enterprise edition already has a comprehensive set of options for deferring updates, which makes it less likely the feature will be restricted solely to the already well-served Enterprise variant.

Microsoft doesn't just appear to be listening to some of the complaints about Windows 10. It's also holding its hands up to some of its mistakes, albeit long after the fact.

Speaking just before Christmas, Microsoft's chief marketing officer Chris Capossela admitted that, on one occasion, the company had gone too far in trying to get Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10.

The incident he was referring to was Microsoft's decision early last year to change the design of the user prompt for its Get Windows 10 app, the software which scheduled upgrades from Windows 7 and 8.

Microsoft altered the prompt so that clicking X to close it caused the user to effectively agree to a scheduled upgrade to Windows 10, rather than dismissing the upgrade as had previously been the case. The change put Microsoft in violation of its own user experience guidelines for developers on how to design dialog boxes.

"Within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we had, we knew we had gone too far," Capossela told the Windows Weekly podcast.

"Those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us."

Following widespread criticism, Microsoft reversed the decision and changed the pop-up so clicking X once again dismissed the upgrade (which is still available to Windows 7 and 8 users with a bit of effort).

Could 2017 be the year that Microsoft changes tack on Windows 10 and starts listening more to users? It could be, but there are still plenty of unresolved complaints that Microsoft shows little sign of addressing, not least concerns over the amount of data Windows 10 collects on users by default.

Read more on Windows 10

About Nick Heath

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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