Friday, 11 December 2015 10:11

Microsoft may ‘automatically upgrade’ Windows 7 and 8.x to W10 Featured

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Is this a plan for world domination? Is this a nefarious way to ensure Microsoft reaches its ‘1 billion users'? Is this just best practice?

OPINION: Microsoft wants, no needs, a homogenous Windows ecosystem – no need to explain that motherhood statement. It has given away Windows 10 (until 30 April and I suspect we will see an extension), it has put an upgrade nag screen reminder in every task bar, it has advertised, marketed, leveraged social media, had great PR, and worked to ‘win one customer at a time’.

According to Netmarketshare Windows 10 market share has stayed fairly static over the past month – around 120 million which is not to shoddy except Windows 7 market share has actually grown slightly to 56.11%, Windows 8.x has remained static at 14.03% and XP sits stubbornly at 10.59% - until all these machines die of old age or are hacked. XP’s security vulnerability is also very high.

According to the Express and other sources Microsoft is drip feeding the 3GB, W10 operating system upgrade to computers so that when the nag screen does its job, the PC takes far less time to update. It is also doing the compatibility test and downloading drivers in the background too.

Microsoft may also re-categorise W10 as a recommended update. Auto-updates are usually installed without the need for user permission – if auto-update is selected and it almost always is. Microsoft says it will ask for user permission to upgrade to W10.

This seems to be aimed at specific versions of Windows – enterprise is largely left alone as it is a different version but small business that use the Home or Pro version may be affected.

Why is Microsoft doing this?

You can take a number of viewpoints on this.

Microsoft antagonists will argue that it is an infringement of rights – if I want to use Windows 7 then so be it. For example, I have a perfectly good Windows 7 Home, Media Centre PC (records TV from a dual tuner) that will not work under Windows 10.

It is an infringement of rights unless you give permission (and it will ask). If it is downloading in the background you will lose 3GB or so of your data download allowance – that is not good. You can counter this by turning off auto-update and manually updating.

Like iTWire’s open source expert Sam Varghese, I think W10’s default privacy settings concerns are reasonably legitimate (but you can turn its ‘reporting’ off). I am also slightly irritated by the occasional pop-up advertising telling me to try Microsoft Products but that seems to have gone away after an Office 365 update to the 2016 version.

Some will say that once you are in Windows 10 ecosystem (it is said to be the last numbered version) you could face future costs for updates – pay as you go. I think there is a risk here but as a happy Office 365 user who pays a small annual fee per copy I appreciate the work going into improvements – the new version of Office 365/2016 is jam packed with new and useful goodies.

Microsoft ‘users’ may think auto-upgrade is not a bad thing – after all W10 is free and you simply have not got around to it yet. Perhaps that nag screen is not urgent enough - ‘do it today - or else’ may be needed. Indeed, I have some Windows 8.x devices that I will be glad to upgrade over the holiday break – simply because I have not had the time to set them up and perhaps backup data first to my WD MyCloud storage device.

Microsoft believes that the adoption of W10 is critical to Windows to building a future ecosystem including Xbox, phones, tablets, IoT, and more. I do not think it is about world domination – at least under the even handed, some may say, compassionate, guidance of its CEO, Satya Nadella and its senior management.

As an IT journalist I honestly believe that Windows 10 is a great operating system – way better than Windows 7 or 8.x. Certainly I have been very impressed at both the desktop and touch 'versions' and had had no issues. I noted that the latest update virtually gave me a fresh Windows version replete with Cortana.

Whatever your viewpoint Windows 10 is a necessary upgrade and you are better off in the ecosystem that outside it.

And as post note – iOS and Android users also face nag screens to upgrade their phones or devices because fragmentation is the cyber-criminals friend and your enemy.

Apple has been really successful in pushing updates (the way Microsoft wants to). Apparently 65.9% (or more) are using iOS version 9.x with fewer more than one update version behind. iOS version 8.x has 20.2% left to go and those using iOS 7 or earlier probably cannot upgrade.

Android is not faring at all well.

  • 0.03% are using Marshmallow 6
  • 15.55% are using 5.x
  • 69.78% are using 4.x
  • 4% are using 2.x
  • The rest – 10.64% are using 1.x

Talk about fragmentation and security issues.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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