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Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Upgrade Push Went ‘Too Far’

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A misleading dialogue box that tricked users into upgrading was a mistake, Microsoft’s marketing chief has acknowledged

A Microsoft executive has acknowledged that the company’s aggressive campaign to get users to shift to Windows 10 went “too far”, the first time the company has acknowledged a misstep in the unpopular programme.

Microsoft began offering Windows 10 for free when it launched in mid-2015, and used various tactics to encourage upgrades, such as making the operating system a “Recommended” download and displaying a pop-up message asking them to schedule the update.

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Misleading box

Initially the pop-up could be dismissed by clicking on a red X in its upper right-hand corner, but in the spring of this year Microsoft changed the way the box worked.

Following the change, clicking on the X still dismissed the message, but instead of cancelling the suggested upgrade, as before, it agreed for Windows 10 to be downloaded.

Users began complaining about the change in May, and in late June the company withdrew the offending message boxes.

Microsoft chief marketing officer Chris Capossela has now acknowledged the move was a mistake, telling Windows Weekly in a podcast interview that the misleading dialogue box went “too far”.

“There was one particular moment in particular where, you know, the red X in the dialog box which typically means you cancel didn’t mean cancel,” he said. “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 changes that behaviour.”

‘Painful’

He said the negative publicity surrounding the stunt was “painful and clearly a lowlight for us”.

Capossela had been asked to recount some of Microsoft’s lowest points of 2016, and also mentioned Microsoft’s divestment of the feature phone business acquired from Nokia.

Many users said they were inconvenienced by the mistaken or “forced” upgrades as their systems became unexpectedly unavailable and, in some cases, could not be restored to the previous operating system.

In June a Californian woman won a $10,000 settlement from Microsoft over the issue, although the company didn’t admit wrongdoing.

For its last monthly software update of 2016 Microsoft fixed a Wi-Fi connection issue that has reportedly been plaguing Windows 10 users. The December update delivered a total of 12 security bulletins, six of which are rated as ‘critical’ and six as ‘important’.

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