Stopping the Windows 10 Upgrade

I’ve had a few customer computers in recently with the issues of Windows 10 upgrade, either it being the upgrade Nag screen or the forced install of Windows 10 onto the customers computer, luckily all the customers have either ignored the Nag screen or managed to get the computer to me within 30 days of the computer being forcefully upgraded. Furthermore, it has in one instance added 4Gb of downloads to a customers download cap, though sneakily downloading the install files in the background, even during Windows Updates it doesn’t show the download of 4Gb, something that I have witnessed first hand in my lab environment.

Personally, I hate this forced upgrade of “eligible” computers, it does not bode very well for the customers who do not like change or cannot get on with Windows 10, My stance on this is that Microsoft has created the ultimate virus in its persistence in gaining access to the PC. To me its a violation of the customer’s rights to a private life and removing ones right to chose the OS they run. As you know I totally replaced all my PC’s, Tablet computers and phones because of my hatred of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 didn’t make things any better, the straw that broke the camels back for me is when I had linked all of my accounts, Xbox, Windows and Hotmail as Microsoft wants you to do because it makes it easier to manage your digital life, and I agree its a great thing but when you then log into a Server 2012 OS and your Xbox profile is on the start screen blurting out your location and OS version to the internet, I’m sorry but at that point its time to jump ship, Yes I know the Apple do the same thing but they do not have a games console (AppleTV doesn’t count) but as the Server components are now just an application pluggin, you do have the freedom not to have internet accounts active on different devices for instance, if I am on my Apple server my email, FaceTime and iMessage accounts are not on that machine, same goes for my phone, laptop and tablet, my phone and laptop has more email accounts active than my laptop, try doing that with your windows device and its not an easy process. Anyway enough of my rant on Apple Vs. Microsoft, this is about how we deal with the biggest virus active on the internet today and the AV companies art even picking it up.

Stopping the Windows 10 Upgrade

In my experience its always better to stop the incident from happening in the first instance, than trying to resolve the issue after the event. So in this section of the blog, I am going to show you how to make your life a little more simple so you can continue on with your daily lives. I want to show you both the ways in which I have done this in the past, as I am dealing with customer laptops and desktops the computers in my lab environment are not connected to a domain, I will hopefully get around to that little gem of information, however most sys admins have this in the bag already. The first way I will show you is the Microsoft Approved Way and the second way that I want to show you is a tool I have recently discovered that has made my life so much more easy, whilst I am dealing with one product I must stress that I have no involvement with the company or developers of the software and that I am only blogging about it as an expression of my own experiences of using the product. Basically, the developers of the product don’t know I’m blogging about it and ultimately I’m not in receipt of anything for writing about it, I’m just a fan of the product because it makes my life easier.

The Microsoft Approved Way

As an IT Consultant, Project Manager or IT Professional (This means you as well DevOps) your first port of call is always going to be the Microsoft Way or Microsoft Best Practices, the second way will usually be what Microsoft actually do when you’re not looking. I have seen Consultants and Project Managers skip the MSBP bits and go straight for what has worked in the past or offered solutions that go against MSBP, its wrong guys stop it, your just making the rest of us look bad not only that you are devaluing the IT industry.

Ok that being said Microsoft do have a really good solution to fixing the issue that they have caused and are actually trying to help the general home users to resolve the issues for themselves, but unfortunately as Microsoft have made the issue so convoluted in the first place, resolving the issue is very complicated and involves editing the registry, which is not something you want the average home user to be doing, messing about in the registry can have disastrous consequences and can lose you the ability to boot up your computer and cause a loss of files (Thanks MS for this its helping my data recovery side of the business).  To view the article from Microsoft Knowledge Base Article you can see it here.

ok to block the upgrade you will need to perform the following

Important Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration incase problems occur.

Subkey: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate
DWORD value: DisableOSUpgrade = 1

OK so that will stop the upgrade from going ahead, it will basically say to the Microsoft servers during the Windows update that, yes you are eligible but you don’t want it. HOWEVER, this won’t stop the nag screen and the notification icon (thanks MS). to do that you will need to do the following changes

Important Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration incase problems occur.

For non-Enterprise versions of Windows, the notification icon can be suppressed through the Windows registry. To do this, set the following registry value:

Subkey: HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Gwx
DWORD value: DisableGwx = 1

So the above two sections should take care of the update going ahead and the notifications telling you that you are eligible for the upgrade, but it doesn’t take care of any downloaded content in regards of Windows 10, you will need to manually find this hidden folder on your computer, either by showing all hidden files including protected files/folders or by using a tool (more on the latter later), you can find the hidden folder by looking for $Windows.10BT delete the contents of that folder and you will recover the space used. Other ways using DISM command are helpful but in my experience doesn’t clear an update that it hasn’t installed.

Using The Tool that I Like

OK, it has to be said, I’m lazy…. I’m a systems administrator so yes I like to have my free time to read technical manuals and do everything that I like doing (yes I like being a systems administrator but I also like other things, like computer games, and learning as well as spending time with Sarah). That being said I will always find a way to do something quickly, either by writing my own scripts and programs or by looking what is already out in the public forum (I am also against paying for things as well), I would sooner download a program that is free but only does 75% of what I need to do and write the other 25%. This is where GWX’s Control panel comes in, yep this is the tool that I use to fix the Windows 10 upgrade issues you can find out more about it from there website here. it does all of the above as well as giving the ability to delete the cache of windows files that have already been downloaded for the upgrade, if you would just like to download it then you can go here its the top link. they actually have a really good post of how to use it as well so for the most part, I am just going to copy what they have put and added my thoughts and comments where I feel necessary.

When you launch GWX Control Panel, you’ll see something like this:

GWX CP 1_7_1 Only

The main GWX Control Panel window in version 1.7.1.
To make sure you’re protected from Windows 10, take a look at the Information section of the GWX Control Panel window. If you see either of the following cases, you are already protected from Windows 10:

GWX app not found


Windows 10 upgrades are blocked and Get Windows 10 app isn’t installed.

GWX no no no


Windows 10 upgrades are blocked and Get Windows 10 app is installed but disabled.
If any of those fields read Yes, that means you are currently vulnerable to Windows 10. Here’s how to fix it:

  • Click the “Click to Disable ‘Get Windows 10’ App” button.
  • Click the “Click to Prevent Windows 10 Upgrades” button.
  • If you’re a completist, click the “Click to Disable Non-critical Windows 10 Settings” button.

You can optionally use the “Click to Enable Monitor Mode” button to have GWX Control Panel watch your system for any changes to your Windows 10 settings. however I have not seen a reason to enable this feature and I think I am safe to say you shouldn’t have a problem if you don’t use this feature.

How simple is the little Control Panel app from GWX, in under 10 minutes including the download you can kill the notifications, kill the updates and the Nag Screen as well as reclaim the space on your computer and if you need the extra peace of mind monitor for further changes to the system in regards to the Windows 10 upgrade depending on Microsofts next move.

Conclusion

Ok so I have shown you how to stop “eligible” Windows versions downloading and nagging you to upgrade, if you have already gone through the upgrade process then you will need to roll back your version of windows but you do have 30 days only to be able to roll back anything beyond that is a full restore to factory settings and then recovery from backups of your files. Microsoft has a very good writeup on this and that can be found here.

On a side note, I can see why MS wants everyone to have the same OS but the forceful upgrade procedure they have put out on the internet is what I totally disagree with, is MS wrong well technically no at the end of the day MS states in the EULA (yeah that thing you never read) does state that you are only renting Microsoft Windows until MS decides that they will no longer support it, after that it is Illegal to continue to use the product, but Windows 7 onwards is still supported so you are perfectly entitled to use the product and yes Windows is Microsofts so they can force what they want out but I would sooner choose when I upgrade not be told when to upgrade.