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Microsoft Tweaking Windows 10 Upgrade Process

Microsoft is changing the process for upgrading users to Windows 10, roughly three months after its release.

Most of the changes affect consumer users. However, one change of note for IT pros is that Windows Update will soon be showing Windows 10 as an "optional update" for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. However, Microsoft plans to bump it up to a "recommended update" sometime "early next year," according to Microsoft's announcement.

The operating system could automatically install as a recommended update, depending on an organization's Windows Update settings, Microsoft warned. However, it will be possible to roll back these Windows 10 upgrades within 31 days if wanted.

Such automatic updates could be costly on metered networks as Windows 10 is a 3GB download. Microsoft's announcement promised, though, that "Windows 10 will not automatically download updates on a metered connection unless there is a security issue addressed within the update."

Media Creation Tool
Another change possibly affecting IT pros is that Microsoft plans to enhance its free Media Creation Tool to facilitate upgrades to Windows 10 Home and Pro editions. It's not clear exactly what will be enhanced, though, based on Microsoft's announcement. The tool can be downloaded and used to create 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10 ISOs, either for upgrades or clean installs across multiple machines. The ISOs get created using DVDs or USB drives.

Microsoft's Media Creation Tool currently can't be used to install the Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10. Instead, those volume licensees can access Windows 10 ISOs directly from Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center.

Windows 10 is being offered as a free upgrade, but it's mostly aimed at consumer users of Windows 7 and Window 8.1. The free upgrade offer is not for domain-joined computers. Still, there could be scenarios where organizations will get offered the free upgrade across machines, and they possibly might use the Media Creation Tool to perform multiple upgrades. However, those upgrades right now are tied to Microsoft's upgrade reservation system, which means that reservations need to be set for each eligible Windows device, according to an early explanation by Microsoft MVP Andre da Costa, in a Windows 10 FAQ.

Reservations Going Away
It seems, though, that such a scenario is changing. Microsoft explained today that it is now dispensing with the reservation system for Windows 10 upgrades. That system let people sign up to get Windows 10, but they'd still have to wait months for the installation to actually happen. Now, if the upgrade invite is accepted, Microsoft's Windows Update service will install Windows 10 right away.

Upgraders will get a notice when the bits are available to install Windows 10. If installed, they'll have 31 days to roll back to the old Windows, if wanted. The rollback is possible because Microsoft now keeps "a full copy of your previous operating system on your device -- including apps and settings," over that time period.

Those Windows users who are eligible for the free upgrade but who just don't want Windows 10 have a new option. They can use the Settings control in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to decline getting future Windows 10 upgrade notices, Microsoft's announcement indicated.

Users who never wanted Windows 10 still may have received some of the bits. Windows 10 upgrade files get stored in a hidden folder called "$Windows-BT" and they reportedly arrived on machines that did not request an upgrade.

'Non-Genuine' Upgrades
Microsoft's corporate goal is to get Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by its fiscal-year 2018. Its free upgrade offer bumped Windows 10 use to 75 million devices back in August. This month, Microsoft is claiming there are "more than 110 million devices" running Windows 10. To prod more upgrades, Microsoft is planning an experiment in the U.S. market for so-called "non-Genuine" Windows users.

Non-Genuine Windows users will get a "one-click" Windows 10 upgrade opportunity. It will allow them to change the device's product key on the fly via a link to the Windows Store. If the experiment proves successful in the U.S. market, Microsoft could expand it to other markets.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.