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GWX (Get Windows 10)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

GWX (get Windows 10) is a Windows upgrade app that was initially installed after Windows update KB3035583; the app has been the subject of consumer complaints for manipulative design. GWX launches at start up. If the user declines the download, the app’s interfaces employ manipulative features designed to lead Windows 7 and Windows 8 users into upgrading to Windows 10, eventually more-or-less forcing the download on them.

GWX generates increasingly aggressive and deceptive popups. The first GWX popup provides options to accept, reschedule or decline. A subsequent window offers  options to “upgrade now” or “upgrade tonight.”

If users click the “X” in the top right corner, that window closes (which is the standard behavior expected by users) but the nagware continues.

A further popup in the sequence removes any readily visible and easy option to refuse the update. The window identifies a scheduled time for the update and features a prominent “Upgrade now” link next to an “OK” button. A much less prominent message says “Click here to change the upgrade  schedule or cancel the scheduled upgrade.”  

GWXfinal

Clicking the “X”, rather than just closing the window – as any user would expect -- is interpreted as consent, and the upgrade is initiated. Stories abound online of users who had no intention of getting Windows 10 suddenly realizing that the upgrade was in progress.

While technical solutions and programs such as GWX control panel or Destroy Windows 10 spying exist to stop the process, for many it's already installed and others may yet be more-or-less forced to make the upgrade. Understandably, Microsoft’s push for Windows 10 has been creating a consumer backlash.

Many of the numerous users of Asus motherboards also found that update KB3133977 broke existing installations using secure boot. This issue leaves many Asus users who might otherwise have avoided Windows 10 having the upgrade suggested as a recommended fix or faced with a technical fix to avoid it.

According to industry speculation, one reason that Microsoft is pushing upgrades so aggressively is that the company intends to move the operating system to a paid subscription model – the initial upgrade is free but users would have to pay in the future. Another potential reason, according to privacy experts, is that Windows 10 is designed to gather a lot of user data that may be used for marketing purposes and shared with third parties.

 Manipulative and deceptive interface design elements are sometimes known as dark patterns.

This was last updated in June 2016

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