Microsoft has deployed another Windows 10 upgrade weapon from an arsenal once thought empty.
Last week, Microsoft began serving some Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users with a full-screen notice that reminded them of the July 29 end to the free Windows 10 upgrade offer and urged them to accept the deal.
The full-screen notification appeared when users unlocked the OS at the log-in screen. "Sorry to interrupt, but this is important," the notice stated. "Windows 10 free upgrade offer ends July 29." The update containing the new screen changes began reaching customers last Thursday.
Customers may choose to upgrade immediately, ask that the reminder reappear later, or permanently dismiss the message and Microsoft's plea. If the user requests "Remind me later," the same screen-sized notification will reappear three days later.
A choice must be made: There is no way to sidestep it and proceed to the desktop without selecting something.
A support document listed those PCs that will not see the lock-screen come-on: They ranged from those whose owners had tried Windows 10 but later reverted to the predecessor, users whose attempts to upgrade failed for technical reasons, and people who had crippled the upgrade process by modifying the Windows registry.
That third group would include not only users who manually monkeyed with the registry, but also those who installed free upgrade blockers like GWX Control Panel and Never10. Both utilities rely on the Windows registry settings to stymie Microsoft's Windows 10 upgrade plans.
Microsoft announced the new full-screen pitch in another support document, which has served as the cornerstone of an aggressive upgrade campaign the company has waged since March. That document made official a retreat from a widely criticized practice that many called deceptive.
For the last three months, Microsoft interpreted a click on the red "X" in the upper right of pending upgrade notifications as authorizing the upgrade, rather than indicating "cancel" or "ignore." Its unannounced click-and-you-approve-the-upgrade tactic was contrary to decades of user experience (UX) and Microsoft's own design rules. Last week, however, the company backtracked, saying it would define the X-click as "ignore," ending the sneaky practice.
The same document also said that customers would be able to schedule -- or reschedule -- the upgrade only through July 23. After that date, users may only initiate an immediate upgrade.
Microsoft's ending of user scheduling before the expiration of the free upgrade offer signaled that the company will not let customers "reserve" Windows 10, but then postpone the actual upgrade process, even for a few days, much less indefinitely. After July 23, the deal will be now or never.