Australian resellers have been inundated with service requests from frustrated customers due to Windows 10 automatically installing on their PCs.
Microsoft is offering a free upgrade to its new operating systems for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 customers until 29 July, and with two months to the deadline, the vendor seems to have ramped up the offensive to get Windows users to switch.
Windows 10 changed from being an 'Optional' update to a 'Recommended' update on 1 February, which meant the operating system would install automatically for Windows 7 and 8.1 customers with automatic updates turned on, according to ZDNet.
The campaign is clearly working – as of 6 May, Windows 10 has surpassed more than 300 million users since it launched in September. However, the aggressive push has left a few noses out of joint.
It isn't the first time Microsoft has taken criticism from resellers and customers over automatic updates. Last year, customers complained of exceeding their data limits after finding a 3.5GB to 6GB Windows 10 setup file had automatically downloaded in the background. At the time, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company was trying to "help customers prepare their devices for Windows 10 by downloading the files necessary for future installation".
Now the operating system is self-installing, leading to a spike in complaints for Australian resellers.
Greg Williams, owner of Adelaide-based Lincoln Computer Centre, told CRN he had seen complaints ramp up over the past week. "We are seeing about half dozen customers per day calling in with the problem.
"The first thing people see after saying, 'no no no' [to the upgrade] for the best part of 12 months is 'Welcome to Windows 10.' They call up and say, 'What the hell?'
"My service manager is giving them advice on how to revert it as easy as we can. We can't fit them all into our job process and we can't charge them an appropriate fee because the job is too easy," said Williams.
He called it "breathtaking arrogance".
"It is as arrogant as anything I have seen in 33 years of the IT industry. They don't care what their customer wants. It is the worst thing I have seen. They know the customers won't dump Windows."
Williams said that it wasn't necessarily bad news for the reseller – the company has been doing a strong trade helping customers downgrade to Windows 7.
"We would like to make money out of this. We have been. People having been bringing their computers in and we revert it to Windows 7 and then put on the Windows 10 blocker, GWX Control Panel, to stop them doing it again."
Tegan Le Page from Leading Edge Computers Griffith also noticed a spike in automatic installations.
“We’ve had at least five customers a week with problems due to Windows 10 updates. Some we roll back and some we can fix with Windows 10 with some tweaks. We found it’s been more aggressive in the past few weeks, probably because the deadline is getting closer,” Le Page said.
“Beforehand, customers got a notification about it that was easy to see. Now they seem to get an update saying it’s happening in 10 minutes, and there isn’t an obvious way to opt out. Customer that aren’t as tech savvy can’t stop it.”
She said that her managed services clients weren’t experiencing issues because support engineers had been proactively managing settings at a domain level.
“A lot of businesses rely on legacy software and drives that aren’t compatible with Windows 10. Small businesses are finding out that they’re getting network interruptions or their specialty software isn’t working.
“With our managed clients, we've found that the issues have started to plateau because we've been working with them to manage updates - preventing the prompts and automatic upgrades."
Microsoft said in October that users could opt out of an automatic installation from the Get Windows 10 (GWX) app.
A Microsoft spokesperson told CRN this week: “As we shared in October, Windows 10 will be offered as a ‘Recommended’ update for Windows 7 and 8.1 customers whose Windows Update settings are configured to accept ‘Recommended’ updates. Customers can choose to accept or decline the Windows 10 upgrade.”
Customers are clearly missing this opt-out, with service manager Brock Lockhart from Computer West in Busselton, WA telling CRN that a third of all his work at the moment was from automatic Windows 10 installs.
“Over the last few weeks we’ve definitely noticed more. A lot of installs go smoothly and their PC works better, but the most common issues is printers not working afterwards. Some print companies haven’t brought out a software update to get it to work, and some have said customers just have to buy a new one.”
Lockhart added that troubled Windows 10 installations have forced some customers to invest in hardware and software. “A lot of complaints have come from homes and small businesses using AutoCAD. Two people had to fork out a few grand for a new version because it only worked with Windows 7.”
Like other providers, Lockhart has been using GWX Control Panel to stop Windows 10 from any further updates or automatically installing.
Ian Grieves from Toowoomba-based Computer Ambulance Services has been vocal about his frustration with Windows 10.
He said that an 80-year-old customer who only uses her PC for games and emails was in tears when she couldn’t access any of her applications with Windows 10.
“Most of the calls I have had today have been in relation to Windows 10 self-installing. It is not right. If people wanted to take Microsoft up on the free option, they would do it. Forcing them will result in more Apple sales, and less Microsoft sales.
“There’s a problem for some industries where they’ve paid for a speciality program before Microsoft throws Windows 10 on them and they can’t pay for someone to rewrite the software.
“It is easy to roll Windows 10 back if it installs correctly, [but] often it doesn’t. But it will install itself again and again. Though I notice on many laptops, rollback seems to damage USB drivers. Windows 10 installations often lead to wireless and printer issues. Some laptops it leads to touchpad issues. The free update ends up costing the customers money, just to get back to where they were before and no security in knowing it will not happen again.”
Melbourne Information Solution owner Olaf Bulenda said: “Our view is that Microsoft has won the battle of forced Windows 10 upgrades.
“GWX Control Panel has worked valiantly to banish Win10 on most of our clients’ reliable Windows 7 steeds, and for those clients who’ve upgraded or had the upgrade thrust upon them we have now been called in to triage the results.
“That is what resellers do. Fix IT problems and paid for doing our job.”
The operating system will cost $179 for the home edition once Microsoft’s free upgrade offer expires on 29 July.