The “Get Windows 8.1 for Free” Travesty

Ugh. You know, I still want to be a big fan of Microsoft, but there’s a reason I tell people these days, “I’m a server guy, I don’t care about the client.” What the Windows client team continues to do is just embarrassing. I can’t be a fan.

And I’m not talking about the Start Screen thing – I got over that pretty quickly. No, now it’s the constant (what is it, daily?) “Get Windows 8.1 For Free” full-screen modal reminder that insists on popping up right when I’m trying to do something important. Like record screen video so I can help Microsoft’s customers understand the technology.

So I finally give in and click “Go to Store.” And nothing happens. Because I’m logged in as an Administrator account, which isn’t allowed to go to the store.

See, this is the company just not thinking it through. First of all, a weekly, can’t-be-disabled, modal prompt to upgrade my OS, whether it’s for free or not, is just wrong. I tell you, if anything should disabuse you of the notion that your Computer is somehow still Personal, this should do it. It’s not your computer, clearly, when you can’t even control the experience of reminders like that. Second, popping up a reminder and then it not even working is just awful planning, awful testing, and an awful experience. It’s heavy-handedness coupled with the worst in Ivory Tower mentality.

“Well, you shouldn’t be logged on as an Admin.” It’s my computer and I’ll bloody well log on as whoever I want, thankyouverymuch. You shouldn’t be forcing me to download an entirely new operating system just to continue using my computer without interruption. Gah, I just can’t believe the hubris involved. Is it absolutely necessary for anyone’s survival that my work computer suddenly stop working and demand to be upgraded, whether I want it to or not? And that there’s no way to make it freaking quit?

And people wonder why I choose to do most of my work on a Mac. Apple is far, far, far from perfect, but they’ve never made me interrupt my work and potentially miss a deadline so that they could install a piece of software I don’t actually even want. I use a Mac because, on balance, it’s massively less interruptful than Windows client. That Mac comes with a butt-tonne of baggage, yes, but it tells you how much I hate Windows client’s in-your-face-ed-ness that I’m willing to put up with it.


UPDATE: Seems you can uninstall KB2885699. Somehow, this is worse. Microsoft deployed this stupid annoying modal message by means of a channel which is supposed to only deliver fixes to the operating system. So they’ve subverted their own trust, taught me to forever disable automatic updates, and made me truly believe they don’t care much about their customers. After some digging, in a domain you can disable this via GPO (which is a reg hack). Hopefully that’ll help anyone who runs across this. This is one of the worst decisions the company has made with regard to user experience. Just terrible.

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