Microsoft has been quietly downloading the massive Windows 10 update to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs without their owners' knowledge. Here are instructions for blocking it.
Microsoft has been downloading the 3GB-to-6GB update even onto PCs whose owners never asked for it. Windows 10 doesn't actually install at that point --- the files sit there, taking up hard disk space, until the PC's owner decides at some point to install it.
Microsoft admitted to The Inquirer that it does this, and explained its actions this way: "For those who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help customers prepare their devices for Windows 10 by downloading the files necessary for future installation. This results in a better upgrade experience and ensures the customer's device has the latest software. This is an industry practice that reduces time for installation and ensures device readiness."
As you might expect, people have been up in arms. Particularly incensed are people who have data caps with their ISPs, because it has pushed them over the limit, and people with not much hard disk space, reports Computerworld.
If you've got Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, look for the hidden folder $Windows.~BT, which holds the files.
If you've got Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, there is a way to block the update from being downloaded. Microsoft explains how to do it on this support Web page.
To do it, you'll have to be comfortable with using the Registry Editor. If you are, it's not tough to do. First, back up the Registry. If you don't know how to do it, get details from Microsoft here.
Install the patch. Reboot. Now it's time to get your hands dirty with the Registry. Open the registry editor by typing regedit into the Start menu search bar, then running regedit. Then Go to this key:
Now create a 32-bit DWORD value with the name DisableOSUpgrade, and give it a value of 1.
Microsoft says that should do the trick.