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Microsoft is quietly auto-downloading huge 6GB file to PCs

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Many people were desperate to get their hands on Windows 10, and that’s okay. But a good chunk of users won’t want to upgrade to the new operating system.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has already started downloading huge Windows 10 image files onto users’ machines, even if they haven’t opted into the upgrade.

The software giant has admitted that it is automatically downloaded the OS upgrade – that’s a file sized between 3.5GB and 6GB – to any computer that has opted into Windows Updates’ automatic updates.

The revelation comes courtesy of The Inquirer, which was tipped off to the sneaky download by one of its readers.

“The symptoms are repeated failed ‘Upgrade to Windows 10’ in the WU update history and a huge 3.5GB to 6GB hidden folder labelled ‘$Windows.~BT’,” explains a TI reader. “I thought Microsoft [said] this ‘upgrade’ was optional. If so, why is it being pushed out to so many computers where it wasn’t reserved, and why does it try to install over and over again?”

The reader continues: “I know of two instances where people on metered connections went over their data cap for August because of this unwanted download. My own internet (slow DSL) was crawling for a week or so until I discovered this problem. In fact, that’s what led me to it. Not only does it download, it tries to install every time the computer is booted.”

So even if a user hasn’t opted in for the Windows 10 installation, the huge file will still be installed on their system.

Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 8: Should you upgrade?

The Inquirer contacted Microsoft for a comment on the matter, to which the firm responded:

“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 device to upgrade.”

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

Users might want automatic updates for minor software changes, but Microsoft shouldn't assume its customers want a major new software version sucking up space on their machines.

Has Microsoft surreptitiously installed Windows 10 on your machine? Let us know in the comments.

Mike Greenway

September 11, 2015, 2:16 pm

I just checked, no files downloaded $Windows.~BT’. Check for yourselves. Don't be suckered by the lazy press, they just copy paste, no one ever looks for them selves.

toboev

September 11, 2015, 3:35 pm

They can't even copy/paste very well:
"...downloading the files they’ll need if they device to upgrade.”

Biggles

September 11, 2015, 8:26 pm

The file was downloaded to me , even though I hadn't clicked 'Reserve Win 10', and it appears to have tried, but failed, to install it. I have now deleted the file.

Dead Words

September 11, 2015, 8:44 pm

I only had this file when I forced a Windows 10 update to begin on a Windows 7/XP laptop (dual boot). On my other two laptops it wasn't present (though I wasn't really looking for it).

Johnny Walker

September 11, 2015, 8:45 pm

I NEVER enable windows update. For obvious reasons. So this doesn't affect me or people like me at all.

Pbryanw

September 11, 2015, 9:26 pm

Ars Technica's article also mentioned that you should uninstall the Microsoft KB3035583 update prior to removing the hidden folder, as the issue seems to be triggered by this update. More removal info here: http://www.addictivetips.com/w...

lw

September 12, 2015, 8:09 am

The related issue some users may not be aware of is that computers that have had Windows 10 installed then by default share their install files with others on a P2P basis, to reduce the load on Microsoft's own servers.

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