The aggressive tactics used by Microsoft to get push its Windows 10 upgrade annoyed many users. Many Windows users felt they were being bombarded with communications telling them to upgrade for security recommendations. The frequency that dialog boxes popped up on screens and the inability to remove or prevent notifications from appearing angered many Windows 7 and Windows 8 users.
During a weekly podcast, Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, apologised for the tactics that Microsoft used to promote the upgrade, although he did point out that Microsoft’s intentions were good – To ensure users of Windows were better protected against malware and other threats.
Capossela said “finding that right balance where you’re not stepping over the line of being too aggressive is something we tried, and for a lot of the year I think we got it right.” Not many users would agree with that point, although most would agree that Microsoft had clearly got the balance wrong when it decided to use malware-style tactics to force users to upgrade against their wishes. For many users, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The decision resulted in Microsoft being flooded with customer complaints.
The step too far came when Microsoft used the X in the top right hand corner of the “Get Windows 10” dialog box to trigger the installation of Windows 10. This is a tactic commonly used by cybercriminals to spread malware and marketers to launch advertising spam.
Capossela explained that Microsoft was aware it had crossed the line. “There was one particular moment in particular where, you know, the red X in the dialog box which typically means, you know, cancel didn’t mean cancel.” He went on to say, “within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we have, we knew that we had gone too far.”
Microsoft had, in many cases, already silently downloaded Windows 10 to users’ machines, prior to the use of the red X. Microsoft also took the cancel option out of the dialog boxes and used increasingly aggressive tactics to get users to install the upgrade as the year went on. Many users would argue that the company overstepped the line long before the red X debacle.
It is good that the software giant has acknowledged its mistake, although the ‘apology’ is somewhat hollow. This was not an innocent mistake, but a calculated decision to force users to upgrade against their wishes. The decision came after many users decided they didn’t want the upgrade even though it was free. Fortunately, such tactics will now be unlikely to be used for the next release of Windows.