Updategate: is it finally the end?

If, like we do, you monitor how Windows 10 "free upgrade" is pushed on existing systems (Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs), you may have noticed lately that the ergonomics seems to have changed.

First we got a countdown dialog when clicking on the "Get Windows Update" icon:

And if we clicked the "Decline free offer", we got this dialog:

Does "decline free offer" do what Win10wiwi and other "anti "Windows 10  Upgrade" do?
We tried it and... No, the "get Windows 10 icon"
  is still in the status bar, even after we rebooted.

What's more, a new recent updated version of KB3035583 (actually deployed with 2016 07 19 batch of updates) added a very "nice" screen that takes ALL the display, that can't be closed the usual ways (no "x" to close the window, even alt-tab can't be used to display anything else but this screen or the desktop). Here is a screen capture of what we saw:

Fortunately, if you click "Do not notify me again", this blue screen disappears. 

And actually, we checked what these "Do not notify me again" and "Decline the free offer" do at the OS level. They do SOME of the things that win10wiwi does. But not all of them.
The components involved in the "upgrade to Windows 10 / GWX" ecosystem stay installed, some of them are still working in the background. The scheduled tasks are still there too.

Now the good thing for the user is that it seems that finally, after almost one year, Microsoft has made it possible to say "no" to the free upgrade to Windows 10. Even if it is not perfect at all and if the related components may still take some resources even after you said "No", it is better than what they previously did.

Users that are concerned by their control over their Windows 7 and Windows 8 system can still use Win10wiwi to totally uninstall the "Get Windows 10" components and thus prevent them from taking any resource.

Note that even if you ran Win10wiwi in the past, some newer versions of the same components may sneak into your system. But running Win10wiwi again will remove them. Again...

And if I want Windows 10 after all?

If you want to accept the free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 but you can't, Win10wiwi may help too: in its expert mode, it has the option to set everything so that the upgrade to Windows 10 will be enabled after a reboot and a "check for updates" in Windows Update.  

What will happen after July 29?

Who knows? Microsoft seems to be eager to have as many people as possible switching to Windows 10. I would not be surprised if they extended their free offer one way or another...

Sometimes I wish I was more litigious...

It may be my last article about Windows 10 "updategate" and I can't end it without mentioning this recent news that a California woman was awarded $10,000 for borked Windows 10 upgrade.

While I am happy for her, I also must admit that she certainly made a lot more money and spent fewer hours on this "updategate" than we did. Actually, we lost money with Win10wiwi: it is a time consuming mission to develop, support such a toll and then, on each "patch Tuesday", inspect every Windows Update component that gets deployed to Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices...

Now, we may have helped quite a number of people (more than 57,000 PCs have been patched with Win10wiwi so far) and, ironically, we may have saved Microsoft quite a lot of money for our users have no reasons to sue MS for a PC borked after a tentative to updated to Windows 10, since it will not try to upgrade! 

(but we won't get $10,000 unless there are more than 25,000 clicks on some ad!)


KB3035583 dated 2016 May 25: a dirty trick aimed at forcing the upgrade Windows 10

Several users have reported that the latest KB3035583, flagged as a recommended update, dated 2016 May 25th , creates some very unusual dialog: If you want to close this dialog by clicking the "X" used in all other interfaces to close the related program without doing anything, it will opt you in for the upgrade to Windows 10.
It order to opt-out, there is a link somewhere (on a "here" word in English editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8) that you have to click.

Here are some details about this new KB3035583:
Update KBID: 3035583
   Installed update Identity Revision=200
   Installed update Identity UpdateID=6b3b2ca0-6f5c-4b18-84de-669d64b77343
   Installed update Last Deployment Change Time=5/25/2016
   Installed Update superseded KBIDs: 7363c2c4-38df-43fe-a04b-a8b05ed52a55

Fortunately, if you previously patched Windows 7 or Windows 8 with Win10wiwi, you should not even see this dialog being displayed and, most of all, the "GWX" components (GWX stands for "Get Windows X") will not be activated.

However, because this new KB3035583 has a newer ID and does not superseded all the previous versions of KB3035583, it may get installed again on your system, even if you ran Win10wiwi previously. It should not activate the upgrade process nor the dialog mentioned above, but it will still have some side effects, like running some background tasks etc.
To prevent it from doing anything, it is recommended to get the latest version of Win10wiwi and to re-run it of the systems that have not to be upgraded to Windows 10.
It's free and it's here:

Chris Merriman, from The Inquirer, wrote some articles about this new moves of Microsoft, it is worth reading:


KB2952664 and KB2976978 dated 2016 March 08, v201 pushed as a recommended update

The latest batches of updates deployed after 2016/03/08's patch Tuesday includes a new release of KB2952664 (and its brother for Windows 8.1, KB2976978) .

Compatibility update for upgrading Windows 7
This update performs diagnostics on the Windows systems that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program. These diagnostics help determine whether compatibility issues may be encountered when the latest Windows operating system is installed. This update will help Microsoft and its partners ensure compatibility for customers who want to install the latest Windows operating system.

One day, I am going to create a petition to ask Microsoft to give more details about what a particular update does. It will help us determining if we want the update or not...

So, what are these new KB2952664 and KB2976978 about?

The details we could gather about it are :
For Windows 7:
Update Identity Revision: 201
Update Identity UpdateID: b9d51b0b-1ca8-4689-9272-6021c79c8c30
Update Last Deployment Change Time: 2016/03/08 (YYYY/MM/DD)

For Windows 8:
Update Identity Revision: 201
Update Identity UpdateID: ef598584-7081-4112-8d18-ffa5abac80b2
Update Last Deployment Change Time: 2016/03/08

(In the following, when I am referring to KB2952664, it is also for KB2976978 since these updates are really similar).

Interestingly, this update is often the first to get installed, but let's not be paranoid, this is certainly because it has the lowest number.

When we read what is written about it and we look at the files it updates, we can deduct that KB2952664 updates the components that run alongside GWX to determine if the system that runs them is compatible with Windows 10. (GWX is the name for "Get Windows 10" set of components,..)

Then should it really be a problem to install this update? Well, if you decided not to upgrade to Windows 10 now (or maybe never), this update is useless and will use resources for absolutely nothing. Furthermore, some of the components embedded in KB2952664 are "telemetry" components, meaning that they will analyze your system and send data and "unknown details" to Microsoft and its partners.

Users who are concerned about their privacy and who want to keep having more choice over what gets installed on their computers surely don't want this new KB2952664.

Fortunately, you just have to run win10wiwi (free on http://win10wiwi.com) to make it sure that this update does not get installed and won't be proposed to you again.

Now wait, what other updates are in this batch that could have some impact on privacy and the way Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are potentially updated to get upgraded to Windows 10?

Well, these ones:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3138612   (for Windows 7)

This update contains some improvements to Windows Update Client in Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. 


This update fixes the following issue with previous versions of the Windows Update Agent for Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2:
Windows Update would sometimes not restart the computer as expected when the “Always automatically restart at the scheduled time” policy was set.

Actually, once again, two sister-updates, aimed at updating Windows Update client.
So should you apply these updates?

The answer is most likely yes, since they are apparently bug corrections.

By the way, some of the previous updates to "Windows Update" client that were said to be useful when upgrading to a newer operating system have certainly embedded bug corrections as well.

It is hard to decide then if one should install such updates, but fortunately, this new release of Windows Update client certainly comes with all the bug fixes previously released.
Does it mean it also has the "enhancements" that were said to be useful to upgrade to a newer version of the operating system? The answer is most likely yes. But when you patched your system with Win10wiwi, these "enhancements" are supposed not to have any effect, since you will never go the "Upgrade to Windows 10" way and then all the code related to said upgrading should not be run.


UpdateGate: KB3035583 is back as recommended update!

A new version of KB3035583, the main component responsible for upgrading to Windows 10, is currently being deployed to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems.

Here are the details about it:

Update for Windows 7  (KB3035583)  (This could be titled "for Windows 8.1", and "x64" could be added to this title, it depends on your system)
 Update KBID: 3035583
   Available update Identity Revision=200
   Available update Identity UpdateID=32855aab-2367-4855-8be7-c42f67080a37
   Available update LastDeploymentChangeTime=2016/02/23  (YYYY/MM/DD)
   Update DownloadPriority=2
   Available Update superseded KBIDs: 73209c3e-0511-4f6c-b61c-e155c4eaa434

Interestingly, it supersedes the previous version of KB3035583 dated 2015/12/15

As always, Microsoft does not say much about it:

All we can see is that the Gwx files have been updated recently:

File nameFile versionFile sizeDateTimePlatform
Config.datNot applicable91,12030-Nov-201514:08Not applicable
Detectorn.datNot applicable19,77630-Nov-201514:08Not applicable

We have installed this new KB3035583 on several of our test machines that have previously been patched by Win10wiwi: So far, these machines have not shown any attempt or notification to upgrade to Windows 10.

However, users who want to avoid any surprise may want to run Win10wiwi again in order to prevent this new update from being installed.


Win10wiwi version is out!

Thanks to some user's feedback, we discovered an issue with one of the components we use and that was recently updated.
v1.1.0.14 could be problematic in case there was no Internet connection or if there was a problem with the Internet connection.

Win10wiwi needs an Internet connection to get the list of available updates from Microsoft, since this is the only way they can be hidden. MS could have made it possible to hide uninstalled updates without getting the list of available ones, but they did not.
We worked all day to release v1.1.0.15 that corrects the issue we detected.

v1.1.0.14 will now display a message telling the users that a newer version is out. It may display an error dialog (similar to the one above) if you choose to go to the download page when you are incited to do it. If that is the case, close Win10wiwi v1.1.0.14 by clicking the cross in the upper right corner of Win10wiwi11014 interface, or right-click Win10wiwi icon in the task bar and close it from there.
Then download v1.1.0.15 and run it, it should not have any problem.


2016 February 09: a patch Tuesday without any change to Upgrade to Windows 10 program. Really ?

As you may expect, Win10wiwi team is very carefully monitoring all updates deployed by Microsoft through "Windows Update".
The important updates that have been deployed last Tuesday are almost all security updates and thus should not been related to "Upgrade to Windows 10". We monitor them all the same and so far, none of them have been involved in the upgrade program.

In the batch of updates deployed this week, only one update can be related to "Upgrade to Windows 10" program: kb3135449. This is an update to Windows Update client itself. Because Windows Update Client is the end-user component that is responsible for getting all the components involved in the so called updategate, changes to this client may have an impact or even been required for the upgrade process to work.
As usual, there are not much details on Microsoft web site regarding this update:

This is what we can read on microsoft web site: 
Windows Update Client for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2: February 2016
This article describes an update that contains some improvements to Windows Update Client in Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2. This update has a prerequisite.
About this update
This update contains some improvements to Windows Update Client in Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Now, since this is an important update, and even if it has some potential incidence on the updategate program, it may also be required for other things such as deploying security patches etc.
Furthermore, this update alone, even if it embeds things that may be used for the updategate, is not enough to be a game changer. Windows Update client is just a vehicle, not the content itself. Disabling it would be like banning all cars because some of them are used to carry illegal or unwanted stuff or persons.

Something else that we found out is that this update is not available for Windows 7 nor has it any equivalent in the updates deployed to Windows 7 with this Patch Tuesday batch.

For these reasons, we have decided not to ban KB3135449 from the updates that Win10wiwi disables. Yet, we are still in the process of examining the changes that KB3135449 involves. This takes some time... If we find something strange or suspicious, we will do what we think is needed to increase the control Windows 7 and Windows 8 users have on their systems.

We studied the optional updates too and nothing in this patch Tuesday's batch optional update is related to the updategate.

Stay tuned !


UpdateGate KB2952664, KB2976978, KB3135445 and KB3123862 2016/02/02 versions

Microsoft is currently rolling out several new Windows Updates that are clearly aimed at pushing Windows 10 to existing Windows 7 and Windows 8.x system. And it begins to become more aggressive each time.

Namely, these updates are KB2952664, KB2976978, KB3123862 and KB3135445

They are (almost all) optional.
For now... But there is something very weird.
Check below.

Here is what can be read on the support pages for these updates, as well as some details that we were able to gather about them:


Compatibility update for upgrading Windows 7

This update helps Microsoft make improvements to the current operating system in order to ease the upgrade experience to the latest version of Windows.

The optional update says:

Last Deployment Change Time=2016/02/02  (YYYY/MM/DD)
Download Priority=2

And the Important Update says:

Last Deployment Change Time=2016/01/12   (YYYY/MM/DD)
Download Priority=2

You read correctly!
There can be two versions of KB2952664 pushed simultaneously. v203 is an important update while v200 is an optional update. Usually however, you should get only the latest one.

We have the same pattern for KB2976978, which is to Windows 8 what KB2952664 is to Windows 7.


Compatibility update for Windows 8.1 and Windows 8

This update performs diagnostics on the Windows systems that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program. These diagnostics help determine whether compatibility issues may be encountered when the latest Windows operating system is installed. This update will help Microsoft and its partners ensure compatibility for customers who want to install the latest Windows operating system.

Optional update says:

Last Deployment Change Time=2016/02/02    (YYYY/MM/DD)
Download Priority=2

and important update says:

Update ID=f3b7944b-c9bb-4ea3-9d9a-22b76e35f48b
Last Deployment Change Time=2016/01/12   (YYYY/MM/DD)
Download Priority=2

Now the two other updates that are related to "updategate" upgrade to Windows 10 are the following:


Updated capabilities to upgrade Windows 8.1 and Windows 7

The update adds capabilities to some computers that lets users easily learn about Windows 10 or start an upgrade to Windows 10. Before you install this update, see the Prerequisites section. For more information about Windows 10, see Windows 10.

Identity Revision=202
Identity UpdateID=e347fcd7-3075-4818-99fb-0eb7367554cb
Last Deployment Change Time=2016/02/03   (YYYY/MM/DD)
Download Priority=2


Windows Update Client for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: February 2016

This article describes an update that contains some improvements to Windows Update Client in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

Identity Revision=200
Identity UpdateID=a4bc0109-346e-4af2-b13c-6cf5ea04f694
Last Deployment Change Time=2016/02/02    (YYYY/MM/DD)
Download Priority=2

So far, the two last updates are marked optional, meaning that they should not get installed on too many systems by default. We advise users who do not want to upgrade to Windows 10 not to install these updates.

Systems that have opted-out the upgrade to Windows 10 with win10wiwi should not have any problem with these updates, as the core upgrade engine has been disabled. But if you have any doubt or if you feel that your Windows 7 or Windows 8 systems became slower lately (since the upgrade process can take quite a lot of resources), you can re-run win10wiwi again, it will not do any harm. And it will prevent the two versions of KB2952664 to be offered to your system.

However, win10wiwi ecosystem will soon be updated to take these new updates and this new behavior into account.


Using Windows 7 and Windows 8 during the next 4 to 7 years.

Windows 7 is supposedly supported until 2020, and Windows 8 until 2023. However, Microsoft announced on 2016-01-15 (YYYY-MM-DD) that newer hardware will certainly not be able to run Win 7 or Win 8.
Supporting older hardware with newer OS has also a cost that is certainly relatively important, maybe within the same order of magnitude than supporting newer hardware on older OSes. Wouldn't it be a little hypocritical to invoke cost savings then?

I managed a team developing kernel drivers for Windows and we knew that the kernels for Desktop and Server systems are actually the same ones. Thus for a given platform the drivers for the desktop and the server equivalent system are actually the same ones too.

Then, if Microsoft allows, on a given platform, only older server OS to run on newer hardware and not the equivalent desktop OS, it will have to be a software limitation. A little hypocritical too, isn't it?  
Microsoft seems to be aggressively pushing Windows 10 to as many devices as possible, including now computer identified as operating in SMBs.

We can suspect that this politics is not only for improving quality or reducing cost of supporting the older software/OSes, since supporting older hardware on newer OS has a non negligible cost too.
Win10 embeds a lot of telemetry (some say that "telemetry" is the politically correct word for "sneaky spying"... Although I would go as far as that, I think that users must have a greater choice over what is shared with the makers of the software they use). Windows 10 comes with some components designed to report some statistical details to third parties. These stats have a real value in today's world, but this value is not really shared with the user (except, that is true, by offering them a free upgrade...).

A large proportion of users, especially those who rely on their Wintel system professionally, actually want to have more control than what Microsoft currently offers. 
Why would dentists, bakers and lawyers take the risk of changing their (operating) systems that are correctly working along with their applications when everything seems to be OK?
How many users have suffered from a problem while upgrading to Windows 10, not being able to restore the previous system? Even 10% would be far too much, especially when users have not been given a real choice not to upgrade.

An ecosystem is emerging, aiming at bringing more choice and control to Windows users. Among the first achievements in this ecosystem one can find some tools design to give more choice and control to users regarding the upgrade to Windows 10 on systems currently running Windows 7 and Windows 8. "Win10wiwi" is a part of this ecosystem, designed to be really easy to use and reliable for users who want to stick to their beloved Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 systems.

What about the other Windows updates?

Monitoring the important and critical Windows updates and deciding which ones to install is not an easy thing, especially for users which are not IT professional but who rely on IT for their daily job.

When something called "Update for Windows 8.1 (KB2977678)" is offered, how would a user get some details about it ? It requires having to click on a link describing this update (if such a link is proposedn, which is not always the case...) and translating the jargon in order to understand what this particular update will actually do on the systems it is installed on. In the image below, one would have to click the "more information link", for instance.

When one clicks the "More Information" links, one ends up with this web page:

It is not that easy to understand what this update actually does, if it is necessary to install it, if it installs some spies in the system, and what will happen if this update is not installed.

At SysStreaming, we are IT professionals and we are planning to offer some services that would do exactly that: based on the user choices, we would select, for them, which updates to install, and which ones not to install. For instance, updates that are identified as containing telemetry would not be pushed to systems for which the user has decided not to allow telemetry.

Windows was good at giving its users more choices than some other OSes (OS X for instance)  and at allowing backward compatibility. It may loose some traction if it looses these aspects of its ecosystem. 

By giving back more power and control to the users, SysStreaming is actually making Windows ecosystem a better system. Microsoft should thank us I think!


Alert! Upgrade to Windows 10 is back...

We have been wondering whether we should send this alert message or not, knowing that it is not totally solicited. We thought the subject matter was important enough to warn our users of our findings.You can opt-out from future communication by using the unsubscribe link below.
On several of our test computers, a new release of the root component responsible for the "Upgrade To Windows 10" eco-system, named KB3035583, has been offered through Windows Update. Here are some facts about it:
  • This version's revision number is 202.
  • Its "last revision date" is 2015 December 15.
  • It is marked "Important" so it should be pushed to your computer if you are using recommended Windows Updates settings (which you should in most cases).
But Win10wiwi tool can disable it automatically.
The good news is that the current version of Win10wiwi (the one that 99% of our users have downloaded) can disable and uninstall this component, even its newer version.
Not all our test machines have been offered the newer KB3035583 yet, but we think that it will be pushed to all Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines sooner or later (except those running Enterprise edition).
The press has been relaying rumors and facts about what is known as the "UpdateGate". We will just mention two recent articles: Official Microsoft Windows EVP blog, and a Forbes article...

It is dormant (for now)

This new KB3035583 seems to stay inactive for now: On our test systems where it has been installed, nothing new really happened: The Windows 10 icon did not show up, and no message to upgrade to Windows 10 has popped up.

We found out that it (re)installed several components that are known to run periodically, triggered by task scheduler. The related tasks are there too:
It is very likely that this new release of KB3035583 will eventually cause the set of components known as "GWX" (the internal name for "Get Windows 10") to get installed. It will also certainly reinstall if you previously disabled it, with Win10wiwi, manually, or with another tool.
See https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3035583 

In order to avoid being annoyed by "Upgrade to Windows 10" (or even have your computer being upgraded without your knowledge), you can use (or re-use) our free utility "Win10wiwi".

Users who have already run Win10wiwi in the past will usually have to run it again to disable these new GWX and KB3035583 before they activate. Win10wiwi is still available for free here:http://win10wiwi.com

Note that it is not necessary to install nor download Windows Update KB3035583 in order for Win10wiwi to disable it: If this release of KB3035583 is offered to your computer but not yet installed, Win10wiwi will disable it all together and it will not been offered to your system again.

Announcing Pro edition

We are in the process of releasing a Pro version of our utility that will automate the monitoring of undesirable Windows Update components along with improved disabling of trackers. This Pro edition will disable those components automatically, without requesting the user to run anything manually, even when Microsoft releases new undesirable components or newer versions of existing components.

This Pro version will be a paying one, yet the free version will still be available. We do not know the final price of the Pro edition yet, certainly around $10/10€.

Users who have been supporting us by contributing more than $5/5€ on our "support us" page prior to the release of Win10wiwi Pro edition will be entitled to at least one license of the pro version of Win10wiwi (one license for each $5/5€ spent on our "Support Us" page).

Support Us!

We have developed and released Win10wiwi without really thinking of a business model to fund it, beside the revenues generated by advertisements. After 2 months, we know now that these revenues are not enough to make Win10wiwi's development sustainable, so we have added a "Support Us" page to our web site in order for users to be able to support us with a contribution if they wish.
Contributions can be sent with Paypal as well as with a credit card using PlayPlug payment system. Note that some of the contributions we receive will give the contributor some benefits to Win10wiwi Pro licenses (see above).
You can also use the Support Us page and click one of the advertisements there, or an advertisement anywhere on the win10wiwi.com site. It will increase (a little) the revenue we get (and that would be good for us to be able to go on building tools such as Win10wiwi and to make them evolve, to support them... So when you think of it and when an ad seems interesting to you, please come back onwin10wiwi.com and click the ads).

Stay tuned !

- Win10wiwi team.