Microsoft Admits Serious Windows 10 Upgrade Error – Forbes
Speaking on Windows Weekly podcast, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela fessed up admitting:
“We know we want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective etc, but finding that right balance where you’re not stepping over the line of being too aggressive is something we tried and for a lot of the year I think we got it right, but there was one particular moment in particular where, you know, the red X in the dialog box which typically means, you know, cancel didn’t mean cancel. And within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we have we knew that we had gone too far and then, of course, it takes some time to roll out the update that changed that behavior. And those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us.”
Capossela is right. Changing the operation of the red X was Microsoft hitting rock bottom but there remain several aspects to his confession that don’t ring true:
1. Windows 10 upgrade tactics were dirty long before the red X debacle. Bombarding users with nagware-like upgrade notices was the first step. Secretly downloading Windows 10 on all Windows 7 and Windows 8 users’ PCs even if they said no to the upgrade was the second. Removing the ‘Cancel’ button from upgrade prompt windows was the third and increasingly crippling the control and longevity of Windows 7 and Windows 8 by removing granular control over updates and compatibility with new silicon were the fourth and fifth.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
2. It doesn’t take two weeks to change how a single red X operates. For a company capable of rolling out complex security patches to a billion PCs within 24 hours of a threat being discovered, this just doesn’t wash. My personal opinion is Microsoft waited to see if the initial outcry would die down and it could get away with this. They couldn’t.
3. The red X was not some innocent misstep by a random software engineer, it was a calculated move that required senior approval to implement and came at a time when Windows 10 upgrades were slowing dramatically. It also came after (as mentioned above) nagware attempts had failed, secret downloading had failed and removing the ‘Cancel’ button from upgrade notifications had failed (‘Upgrade Now’ and ‘Upgrade Tonight’ were the only written options!).
Only then was the behaviour of the red X changed (and in violation of Microsoft’s own developer guide for how the button must work) because it was the only cancellation option left.
So yes, it is nice that Microsoft has publicly admitted the pinnacle of its malware-like efforts to get Windows 10 onto users’ computers by any means necessary was a step too far. But it should be apologising for the rest of these dirty tactics as well and the claim that “for a lot of the year I think we got it right” is a laughable attempt to rewrite history.
Making Windows 10 a free upgrade for one year was a generous offer, but trying to trick/force it upon users when they don’t respond in the numbers you have proudly and publicly predicted (1BN installs in 2-3 years) is a gross violation of trust.
Perhaps the saddest aspect to all of this is, despite teething problems, Windows 10 is a good operating system at its heart and universal adoption is only a matter of time given sales of Windows 7 and Windows 8 have ‘ended’ and all new PCs ship with Windows 10 exclusively. But Microsoft couldn’t wait, it couldn’t stand that what it deemed the deal of the century wasn’t blowing away users so it imposed underhand tactics which have left stains on both the operating system and the company’s reputation which may never wash off.
So yes, saying (a partial) sorry now is better than nothing, but for millions this is much too little far too late…
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