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Microsoft downloads Windows 10 onto users' PCs, even if they didn't ask for it

The update is being hidden away in a huge, secret folder, according to reports

Andrew Griffin
Friday 11 September 2015 20:59 BST
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, at a launch event for Microsoft 10
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, at a launch event for Microsoft 10 (Ellen M. Banner/AP)

Microsoft is downloading Windows 10 into a huge, secret folder on users’ computers — even if they haven’t asked for it.

Whether or not users have actually “reserved” a copy of Windows 10, it is being pulled down and stored in a hidden folder, according to a reader of tech news website Inquirer.

The download happens secretly and could happen at the same time as other, requested activity and slow it down, according to the reports. People using limited internet connections may also found that they have used up a huge part of their bandwidth without ever knowingly downloading anything.

The reader that found the download said that he had not intended to upgrade to the system, and so had refused the option when presented by Microsoft. But that did not stop the computer repeatedly attempting to upgrade every time it turned on, generating error messages, and putting a folder that was between 3.5GB and 6GB big in a secret area on the computer.

Given smaller computers and tablets tend to have correspondingly small hard drives, such a download could take up a huge proportion of the disk space.

Microsoft said that the users who were receiving the upgrades were doing so because they had turned them on — for other versions of the operating system. People tend to turn that on because it means that vital security updates arrive as soon as they are released, but there is no way to make that happen and not receive the giant Windows 10 download.

"For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade,” the company said in a statement.

“When the upgrade is ready, the customer will be prompted to install Windows 10 on the device.”

Windows 10 has received rave reviews and been installed on over 75 million computers. But it has also prompted a range of security worries, including invasive privacy settingsand apparently continued spying even when they are turned off —and a mode that sends parents a dossier about what children are doing on the internet.

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