Updated: June 10, 2016
This tutorial is a compilation of several guides and articles I have written in the last year, all designed to help you stop and prevent Windows 10 upgrades on your systems. I want to clearly emphasize and highlight the tools, the tips and the tricks you can use to block, deny, deflect, defer, and outright reject any offer to upgrade to Windows 10.
As it turns out, Microsoft began offering their latest operating system to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for free under the GWX campaign. But this seemingly benign proposal soon became an obnoxious, aggressive push, forcing users into a corner, and giving them little to no choice to reject these offers. It all started with the deceptively labeled recommended update KB3035583, and the ways and methods are changing all the time, every one created to make users upgrade, whether they want it or not. Let's not.
1. Uninstall update & change WU settings
The easiest way for those who do not wish to tinker is to uninstall the update through the Add/Remove applet in the Control Panel, then in the Windows update hide KB3035583 so it does not show up again. However, if you have automatic updates enabled, you may end up with Windows 10 pre-downloaded in the background into a hidden folder, and you may see an upgrade offer come up regardless. Therefore, you should also change your Windows update settings to notify or manual. You should definitely disable automatic updates. This is the easy path.
Moreover, KB3035583 is a recommended update, and if you have Windows give you recommended updates the same way it offers important ones and security patches, it will show pre-selected in the main view. You should also consider changing this option so you do not get offered this update by mistake.
2. Remove GWX notifications
This is the theme of my original - and highly popular - tutorial that explains in rich detail how to stop GWX from running. This article outlines how to take ownership of the GWX folder, rename it and the executables inside it, and how to remove scheduled tasks designed to run GWX.
Then, several months ago, I wrote a second article on this topic, after several users emailed me, telling me the steps in this guide were no longer working. I retested the whole procedure, and it worked beautifully. The one step that I felt I needed to highlight and clarify is that you should kill gwx.exe first through the Task Manager before trying to assume ownership and change permissions.
3. Permanently block OS upgrades
I have also written a detailed guide on how to block OS upgrades. If you don't want to upgrade to Windows 10, like EVER, then you can install a patch, either on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, which blocks OS upgrades, and you will never be pestered or asked to do so. This article also has important information on Windows telemetry, and some additional privacy aspects.
4. Third-party tools
I have also tested several third-party tools that can block GWX and prevent upgrades. One such tool is GWX Control Panel, and you might want to consider using it. The tool is fairly simple to use, and if you're not too techy, it might be a better option for you. Another nifty program that does the same job is Never10, which I will be testing very soon.
5. If you've already started the upgrade process
You may have accidentally initiated the upgrade. No one can blame you, because GWX and Windows Update behave in a really stupid way. If this is the case, you can either try to stop the upgrade - best using the GWX Control Panel or Never10 - or let it complete and then downgrade, or rather, roll back. I have tried both, and the process is seamless and fast. For example, on my HP Stream tablet, Windows 10 did not run well so I reverted to Windows 8. You have one month to roll back if you choose so.
Without spamming you too much with links to my own stuff:
Windows 10 upgrade - do you really want or need it?
There you go. This article is all you ever need to know about Windows 10 and how not to upgrade if you don't want to, or don't feel like doing it on Microsoft's aggressive terms. You can uninstall the GWX update, remove the software by force, block future OS upgrade, use third-party tools for the task, or even roll back following an upgrade. Hopefully, this guide has everything.
It is funny how corporations create this kind of fiascoes and dramas, when all it takes is a bit of humility and choice for the users. I'm sure a lot of people advocating against Windows 10 would not be so opposed if not for GWX. Such is the human nature. The harder you push the more we resist. But now, after following all the tips laid out in this tutorial, you should be able to enjoy some stress-free computing. If you have any other suggestions, comments or requests, please let me know. Anyhow, we're done.
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