Microsoft Retools Its Controversial Windows 10 Upgrade App

Microsoft is planning a new, "clearer" version of its Get Windows 10 (GWX) application, the company said this week.

The GWX app appears on Windows machines eligible for Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer, which expires on July 29. While the GWX app is silently maintained in the background via the Windows Update system, most Windows users typically see it as a pop-up dialog box that tells them that the Windows 10 upgrade is scheduled and ready to execute. The software industry refers to such pop-ups, when unwanted, as "nagware," and the GWX app is designed to reappear again and again, if dismissed.

Microsoft had upped the status of its Windows 10 upgrade to "recommended update" back in February. Consequently, some PCs may have automatically installed Windows 10, depending on how their Windows Update settings were configured. Other users, though, likely would be subject to getting the GWX app.

Declining or deferring that Windows 10 update offer, as presented by the GWX app, has been problematic at best. Users have complained of upgrades installing that they didn't approve. In some cases, they've sued over the consequences of Windows 10 upgrades that they didn't authorize.

The claim this week of a clearer Windows 10 upgrade experience rollout is being attributed to Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Windows and Devices at Microsoft. His statement was publicized in an article Tuesday by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley. Myerson's statement, as published, offered the following promises:

  • The GWX app will have "clearer options"
  • Users can select a time to upgrade to Windows 10 or decline the offer
  • Clicking the red "X" close control button in the GWX app will "dismiss the dialog box" but the GWX app will reappear again "in a few days"

That last promise is an important one as Microsoft has altered what happened when people tried to close the GWX app in past releases. The app had once behaved like all such dialog boxes -- that is, clicking the "X" close control cleared the message from the screen without taking any action. In May, though, Microsoft had changed the GWX app close behavior to actually start the Windows 10 upgrade.

Myerson appears to be promising to roll back that deceptive practice. However, the GWX app will still reappear if people close it.

Last month, Microsoft promised that the GWX app would eventually disappear after the July 29 end date for the free Windows 10 upgrade offer, although the exact timeline for its disappearance wasn't specified. Windows 10 will then cost about $119 for those not taking advantage of the offer and still wanting Windows 10, with the exception of those using "assistive technologies."

The Windows 10 in-place upgrade, as executed by the GWX app, isn't always trouble-free, despite the app giving users the all-clear sign to start the upgrade. A Siliconbeat article this week cited Lisa Gurry, Microsoft's senior director for Windows, as saying that Microsoft is providing free technical support for people experiencing Windows 10 troubles. Such support is not mentioned on Microsoft's help page for Windows 10 upgrades, but this Windows 10 upgrade page seems to suggest that the help will come from a local Microsoft Store.

About the Author

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