PC Users Caught Unprepared for Automatic Windows 10 Upgrades

NEWS ANALYSIS: Unless you take steps to prevent an automatic upgrade of your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 machine, it will happen even if you're not around to approve it.

Automatic Windows 10 B

While it’s no secret that Microsoft is trying to move its customers to Windows 10 as quickly as possible, I hadn’t realized that the move had become an imperative.

That realization came while I was attending a presentation by the Lynchburg (Va.) Amateur Radio Club on how to build a software-defined radio and heard a discussion about the control software, most of which runs on Windows.

The engineer leading the discussion was clearly annoyed because the laptop computer he used to operate his SDRs had suddenly been upgraded to Windows 10, and in the process his control software stopped working properly.

He found, as have many others, that the drivers necessary to make everything work didn’t run with Windows 10. Until he could find the time to switch his computer back to Windows 7, his control software wouldn't work again.

Until then I’d thought that Microsoft would give Windows users a warning before running an automatic Windows 10 installation as Microsoft Vice President Terry Myerson said in his blog entry announcing the upgrade procedures late in 2015. Now it appeared that Microsoft wasn’t actually giving Windows users that opportunity to opt out, or at least delay the automatic upgrade.

For its part, Microsoft is saying that users do have control of the Windows 10 upgrade. “We shared in late October on the Windows Blog,” a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK in an email, that “we are committed to making it easy for our Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10.

As stated in that post, we have updated the upgrade experience to make it easier for customers to schedule a time for their upgrade to take place. Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update (WU) by changing the WU settings.”

This means you have to manually change the Windows Update settings so you don’t automatically get updates. Once you do that, you will need to check for and approve any updates to Windows before they’re installed. You do have the ability to pick which updates you want and which you don’t. But that means that you run the risk of missing what could be some critical updates if you forget to check.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...