Earlier this year, Microsoft famously employed aggressive tactics when promoting its free Windows 10 upgrade offer. Now, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Capossela, admits there was a moment when the campaign’s heavy-handed methods went too far.
As it attempted to get more users to upgrade, Microsoft started overwhelming people with popups, made Windows 10 a recommended update rather than an optional one, and automatically forced unwanted installations onto PCs without first informing users. One California travel agency operator was awarded $10,000 through a lawsuit after a forced installation caused her PC to become slow and unusable.
Despite all this, Capossela said in an interview with Windows Weekly that the company didn’t step over the line of being too aggressive in its marketing campaign. But he admitted there was one moment when it went too far.
Back in May, the company was accused of deceiving people into upgrading by deploying “malware-like” methods. Microsoft’s Get Windows 10 (GWX) pop-up had offered users the choices of “Upgrade Now” or “Start Download, Upgrade later,” meaning those who didn’t want the newest OS had to close the pop-up using the standard X in the corner of the box. But the company changed this by introducing a small and easily missed link for rescheduling or changing the upgrade. Following the alteration, anyone who clicked on the corner X was unwittingly giving consent for the upgrade to take place at the scheduled time.
“There was one particular moment ... where the red ‘x’ in the dialog box, which typically means, you know, ‘cancel,’ didn’t mean cancel,” said Capossela. “And within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we have, we knew that we had gone too far."
“And then, of course, it takes us some time to roll out the update that changed that behavior,” he added. “And those two weeks were pretty painful, and clearly a lowlight for us. And we learned a lot from it, obviously.”
It’s taken Microsoft a long time to admit that it went too far in forcing Windows 10 onto people, but hopefully it will learn from the experience. The vast majority of users are fans of the latest operating system, but nobody likes deceptive and annoying marketing.