Microsoft is shifting up a gear in its plans to get PC owners onto Windows 10 by making the operating system a download that will be delivered automatically via Windows Update, sparking fears that people may not realise what is happening.
Windows 10 has been available since the end of July as a free upgrade for those running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, as well as on new systems.
However, the company has now said that Windows 10 will shortly be published as an 'Optional Update' via the Windows Update service. This will be escalated to a 'Recommended Update' next year, which means that installation will be triggered automatically, depending on the user's Windows Update settings.
The changes were detailed in a posting on the Windows Experience blog by Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group. He said that the moves are designed to streamline the upgrade process.
"Our original approach for the Windows 10 rollout included a two-step process: First, reserve, then later we notify you to start the upgrade process. While over 110 million devices have successfully upgraded to Windows 10, the two-step process is no longer relevant now that we are beyond the pre-order phase and Windows 10 is immediately available," he said.
The move means that, depending on the Windows Update settings, users will see Windows 10 automatically downloaded to their computer and the installation process started automatically.
However, Myers said that there will be clear prompts to choose whether or not to continue with the upgrade, and that even if people do proceed, they will have 31 days to roll back to the previous Windows version if they change their mind.
Nevertheless, the move is likely to come as a surprise to those who have Windows Update operating with the default settings and may not be following media coverage of Microsoft's announcements.
Many users are likely to be alarmed in the coming months by the Windows 10 installation process suddenly starting on their computer, unless they have chosen to be notified of updates or check for them manually, rather than leaving the default setting of automatically applying updates.
Microsoft has already faced the wrath of users after The Inquirer revealed Microsoft was already installing the Windows 10 image on to users machines without their permission.
Microsoft is also looking to make it easier for tech-savvy users who want to create offline media to upgrade multiple PCs. The firm is planning to update its Media Creation Tool for building DVD ISO images and USB keys so that users will be able to create a single image capable of upgrading any 32-bit or 64-bit Home or Pro device.
There are also plans to offer an olive branch to Windows users running "non-genuine" copies of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, allowing them to upgrade via the Windows Store or by entering an activation code purchased elsewhere.
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