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Here’s Why Microsoft is Automatically Downloading Windows 10 Onto PCs

The latest operating system is now just the click of a mouse away from being installed on PCs around the world.
February 2, 2016, 6:41pm
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft in July 2015 released Windows 10, its latest and greatest operating system that earned acclaim from critics (the Start Menu is back!) and criticism from privacy rights activists (it sure does collect a lot of personal data!) within just a few days of release. Uptick was quick, too, with Microsoft noting 75 million installations by late August and 110 million installations by late October.


The company's stated goal? To get to 1 billion installations by July 2018.

One new change in how Microsoft distributes the upgrade may help the company reach that number—which in turn may have broader implications on how you use Windows.

For users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, upgrading to Windows 10—Windows 10 is a free upgrade for these users, remember—is now considered "recommended" and no longer "optional." This isn't a mere change in terminology, since "recommended" updates are automatically downloaded (provided users' bandwidth settings are configured to enable automatic downloads) to help users install them quickly; an "optional" update would otherwise just sit in the Windows Update queue waiting for the user to initiate the download.

In other words, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users who've put off upgrading to Windows 10 will now have to dive deep into their Windows Update settings to prevent the automatic download.

To be clear, Microsoft isn't so strident that it automatically installs Windows 10 onto PCs, but once automatically downloaded installing Windows 10 becomes a mere mouse click away.

Microsoft encourages users to keep automatic updates turned on because that's how the company quickly rolls out patches and security updates, which are vital to keep PCs protected from malware and other nuisances that may affect Windows PCs.

While there may be plenty of reasons for not wanting to upgrade to Windows 10, including the not insignificant task of having your already existing installation tweaked exactly to your liking, upgrading to Windows 10 signals to developers that Windows is a thriving platform that's worth their time. Without that, Windows merely becomes a commercial layer of software you use to run something like Chrome and Steam—apps you can run for free using Linux.