Microsoft has been updating its Get Windows 10 notification again, this time in preparation for turning the upgrade off altogether. Last month, the company changed the behavior of its GWX.exe application in the wake of user outcry — now, it’s changing the application again, into a full-screen affair.
That’s the bad news. The good news is, more than 11 months after launching Windows 10, Microsoft is finally going to let you choose to decline the upgrade for good, forever, period. Granted, that option isn’t exactly called out — but it is there, at least.
Ignore the two large buttons on the bottom right of the screen. The text you’re looking for is at the bottom left of the screen, where you can choose to either be notified three more times or never notified again.
Microsoft’s learning cliff
With the Windows 10 upgrade period drawing to a close, it’ll be interesting to see how many devices the company captures in this final push. Paul Thurrott thinks it’s possible that Microsoft will hit 380-400 million devices by the end of July, which sounds plausible to us. The bigger question, though, is what’ll happen from this point forward.
The problem is this: Microsoft’s aggressive tactics to push out Windows 10 created a great deal of ill will with end users. It’s exactly the opposite of what Microsoft has talked about wanting to encourage in its customers, which is part of why the company’s chosen path with this debacle was so confusing. If your goal is to make customers love your operating system — and that’s precisely what Microsoft said it wanted to do — why force them to use it using an increasingly aggressive set of tactics?
The answer, I think, is rooted in the PC market slowdown. For decades, Microsoft was able to assume that attrition and upgrade cycles would eventually replace hardware, no matter what it did. Windows XP bucked that trend to a certain degree, but not so much in the US or other established markets. Then, the bottom fell out of the PC industry — and let’s be clear, the PC market is still contracting. IDC is now projecting a 7.3% decline for 2016 over 2015. If that trend holds true, the PC market of 2016 will be smaller than any we’ve seen since 2006, and just 73% the size of the market in 2011.
This presented Microsoft with a problem. If PC users continued to hold on to systems for 7-10 years, it meant the overwhelming majority of owners wouldn’t experience Windows 10, period. Upgrade cycles like those that drive the iPhone are obviously what Microsoft wants, but it couldn’t get from point A to B without pushing its users to upgrade — and since the vast majority of PC users don’t upgrade their operating systems after buying their hardware, it probably felt as if it had to break some established norms to make the switch.
At a high level, all of this makes sense. But the company’s decision to push Windows 10 the way it has may have created a bulwark of users who are more determined than ever not to upgrade until they’re forced to — and even then, they may consider either Linux or OS X much more strongly than they would’ve in the past. Either way, Microsoft largely blew its chance to build a positive story around Windows 10’s free upgrade — virtually every piece of news that’s broken on the topic has been framed around how the company is forcing the OS on its users via another method or approach. It didn’t have to be this way.