Windows 10 U-turn: Microsoft admits upgrade push was 'confusing'

Following widespread criticism of earlier changes, Microsoft once again revamps its program to get Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10.

The new user prompt.
Image: ZDNet / Microsoft

Following widespread criticism and allegations that users are being tricked into upgrading to Windows 10, Microsoft has reversed a controversial change to its upgrade program.

In May, Microsoft changed the design of the user prompt shown by the Get Windows 10 app, the software which schedules upgrades from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10.

Following the change, clicking X to close the prompt caused the user to effectively agree to the scheduled upgrade to Windows 10, rather than dismiss 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.

Now, following accusations the change had confused users into inadvertently accepting the upgrade, Microsoft has reversed the decision and will change the pop-up so clicking X once again dismisses the upgrade.

Explaining the change of heart, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group, said: "Since we introduced a new upgrade experience for Windows 10, we've received feedback that some of our valued customers found it confusing."

Myerson said the new upgrade prompt would show "clear options to upgrade now, schedule a time, or decline the free offer", as can be seen above, and would dismiss the upgrade when the X was clicked to close the prompt. The new prompt will begin rolling out to Windows users later this week.

Microsoft's decision follows a judgement in a small claims court that Microsoft should pay $10,000 to Teri Goldstein, a travel agent based in Sausalito, California, who said an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade made her PC unstable.

Goldstein claimed the computer, which she uses to run her business, would slow to crawl and crash following the update from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Microsoft first contested the judgement then dropped its appeal, "to avoid the expense of further litigation", according to a spokesperson. Goldstein later urged other Windows users to follow her lead and "fight back" against Windows 10 updates.

Speaking ahead of Microsoft's U-turn, Andrew Dodd, head of the Technology Disputes team at legal firm Fieldfisher, told TechRepublic he expected the payout could push Microsoft to make its Windows 10 upgrade program less forceful.

"Microsoft is now likely to make its update prompts less aggressive in an attempt to take the heat out of the debate."

Microsoft has been determined in its attempts to switch users from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10. Earlier this year the company made Windows 10 a recommended update for Windows 7 and 8.x users, which resulted in the upgrade process automatically initiating on most home machines.

However, in spite of a number of complaints from consumers and small businesses about unwanted upgrades, Fieldfisher's Dodd said he didn't believe the case would lead to a flood of similarly successful challenges, as Microsoft hadn't admitted any wrongdoing.

"It's unlikely that this will open the floodgates for further claims. Microsoft is likely to resist similar claims for compensation as the company is sticking to its key proposition that it's done nothing wrong.

"Microsoft has emphasised that customers can continue to accept or decline the Windows 10 upgrade, and also have a 31 day unwind period afterwards. It will likely hold the line, and dismiss the Goldstein case as a one-off on its particular facts."

Microsoft has been pushing hard to get Windows 7 and 8 users to switch to Windows 10 before the free upgrade offer ends on July 29th this year.

In May, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 has been activated on 300 million devices - an adoption rate that, if it continues, would put the firm on track to hit its target of getting the OS onto one billion machines by July 2018.

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