I stepped away from my computer for dinner, in the middle of writing a story for The Verge. When I got back, I could not believe my eyes.
Windows 10 restarts my computer without permission again – to install another forced OS update on my solid state drive.
The latest part: When I finished rebooting my machine, it now contains the exact thing I wrote before I was roughly interrupted. Microsoft installed unwanted, unwanted web app versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook on my computer.
OK, it’s not as bad as when my entire computer screen got an unwanted copy of Microsoft Edge. That is really serious.
No, this time Microsoft was just sneaking out unwanted web apps on my PC – and using my Windows 10 Start Menu as free advertising space. Did I mention that icons for Microsoft Office apps have mysteriously appeared in my Start Menu, even though I have not yet installed Office on this computer?
These are not all free copies of the Office, by the way. These are just shortcuts in the web version that you can now access in any web browser of your choice, which doubles as ads to pay for a more complete feature copy.
Since these are web apps, it doesn’t like to take up any space on my computer, and I don’t really care about them in my Start Menu. They’re among the smallest annoying bloatware I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t really look at the Start Menu somehow – my taskbar and search bar were long enough for me.
However, these are the latest proofs that Microsoft does not respect your ownership of your own PC, the latest example of Microsoft installing whatever it wants in a Windows update to and including bloatware, and the latest example of Microsoft’s concern about the bottom line than how many people might lose their jobs when Windows suddenly shuts down their PC. Fortunately, I did not lose my job today, but a friend of mine recently did:
Microsoft seems to think that our computers have no advertising space, a place where it can selfishly promote its other products – even though they were told around the ’90s that even bundling a web browser is not OK. Now, they bundle a browser you can’t install, and a set of PWA web apps launched in that same browser. (Yes, they fire Edge even if you set another browser by default.)
As I have argued before, decisions like this will weaken one good argument Microsoft really does exist for mandatory updates – that they provide essential security patches to keep computers (you and others) safe. That is a harder argument when the most noticeable difference after a new update is an attempt to earn more money!
Like ZDNet Microsoft veteran reporter Mary Jo Foley says this is not just an experiment happening in some Windows Insider. I did not sign up for the Windows Insider program on this PC. The company is not yet designed to respond to Foley’s requests for comment, but let’s see if that changes next week.