MICROSOFT HAS FINALLY admitted that it intends to enforce an automatic download of Windows 10 on customers, who can then choose to opt out of installing it. Lucky them.
The news ends months of speculation and sneaky behind-the-scenes tactics by the company as it pushes customers towards the new operating system in subtle ways.
After a recent spate of reports that customers were getting Windows 10 installed without even being asked, it now appears that this was a practice run for something official.
Terry Myerson, head Windowslicker, said in a blog post: "We will soon be publishing Windows 10 as an 'Optional Update' in Windows Update for all Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers.
"Windows Update is the trusted, logical location for our most important updates, and adding Windows 10 here is another way we will make it easy for you to find your upgrade.
"Early next year, we expect to be re-categorising Windows 10 as a 'Recommended Update'. Depending on your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device.
"Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue. And, of course, if you choose to upgrade (our recommendation!) you will have 31 days to roll back to your previous Windows version if you don’t love it."
In other words, from next year your Windows installation will nag you to upgrade to Windows 10, pointing out that it has downloaded the files and it's all ready to go.
Customers on metered connections such as mobile broadband will be able to opt out of this process, a feature that has always been available but that Microsoft has failed to publicise thus far.
We originally broke the story in September that Microsoft is downloading images of Windows 10 to computers whose owners hadn't opted for the upgrade, in some cases taking up 6GB of the hard drive.
Microsoft has yet to fully answer our concerns surrounding 'updategate', but our original tipster, Mike Wallace, pointed out to us recently that a number of patches for Windows have been reissued, including the nag processes and automatic downloads of Windows 10.
Then earlier this month, in Ars Technica, our worst fears were realised: Windows 10 has been manifesting automatically.
OK, well not exactly, but it is being ticked as a default option in 'optional updates' in Windows Update, meaning if you click 'update all' for your patches, you'll get upgraded without realising. It's a case of 'if all else fails, read the instructions' but let's face it, most people don't.
Microsoft issued a statement at the time confirming that it was a mistake. "As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update control panel," the firm said.
"This is an intuitive and trusted place people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check."
It now appears that the accident was a precursor to an urm... not accident.
We've also reported that new builds of Windows 10 currently being tested on the Insider programme will be the first to trigger the quietly trailed advertising on the Start Menu and Lock Screen.
And, despite repeated attempts, no-one is answering the questions that our readers still have about the whole affair. We'll keep trying for you. µ
Bad for shareholders, mildly good for the planet
YouTube on the Tube
Claims that it hasn't ever actually worked