Windows 10 Nagware Has Some Partners Questioning Microsoft's OS Rollout Strategies

Microsoft has been insistently urging Windows 7 and Windows 8 customers to upgrade to its newest software, Windows 10. And some partners aren't happy about it.

Solution providers say corporate customers need time to test how the new software fits into their line of business, whether their apps and devices are properly supported, and whether they are comfortable with the OS user interface.

"We … find it disconcerting to have to deal with yet another somewhat heavy-handed approach from Microsoft to garner a quick adoption of Windows 10," said Bob Nitrio, CEO of Ranvest Associates, an Orangevale, Calif.-based Microsoft partner. "They're pushing hard to get customers to adopt this, but customers have choices, and Microsoft should respect those choices."

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Several solution providers interviewed by CRN said their customers with computers running on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 have discovered Windows 10 upgrade nagware buried in security patches.

The nagware, which partners say can be removed, comes in the form of an ad on users' Internet Explorer browser encouraging them to upgrade.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company's pressure on customers, which partners say they have not seen with previous Window OS upgrades, has increased a month after Microsoft switched its update status from "optional" to "recommended."

"Upgrading has always been more of a client-centric choice," said Nitrio. "Microsoft seems to be taking an almost abrasive approach in pushing customers to adopt this."

A Microsoft spokesperson told CRN that the company is evolving its notifications to be "more approachable" in helping customers adopt Windows 10.

"We've been using notifications from the task bar to inform people when their upgrade is ready," said the spokesperson. "We are evolving our notifications to be more approachable and hopefully clear, and will continue to test new things in different markets around the world. This is part of that effort. Users that have turned off the GWX app or disabled notifications in settings will not see this recent change, nor will Windows Professional users."

Microsoft has touted Windows 10 as its "best Windows ever," with better security features, an innovative user interface and a more streamlined experience among devices.

Mike Hadley, CEO of Boston-based Microsoft partner iCorps Technologies, said customers should look into upgrading to Windows 10, because of its enhanced efficiency and security measures -- but said he thinks Microsoft could utilize the channel to promote Windows 10 adoption as opposed to nagware.

"At some point, everyone will have to adopt Windows 10, and ultimately, it's a good thing for companies to move to this OS," said Hadley. "I don't believe in the nagware approach, though. … Microsoft may be able to find alternative ways to [promote Windows 10] through the channel."

Hadley and a handful of other partners that CRN talked to said they haven't been directly contacted by Microsoft about pushing Windows 10 adoption for customers.

Microsoft's Windows 10 campaigns seem to be working, according to a report by Net Applications: Since its release in August, the OS had passed 10 percent share of the worldwide OS market as of January.

While Windows 10 already has slightly more market share than Windows 8.1, which has 10.4 percent share, it is nowhere near the Windows 7 adoption rate, which as of January had 52.4 percent share of the worldwide OS market.

Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Microsoft partner, said that the choice is still there for customers -- while some clients are interested in the touch-screen features of Windows 10, others are still opting for Windows 7 on their desktops.

"I think customers are [still looking] at Windows 10," he said. "Some are still happy on Windows 7 on their desktop, while it's still available, but if we're selling something that has touch-screen capabilities, it makes sense for us to go out there and talk about Windows 10."