Updated: April 11, 2016
Hello children of the Internet. As you may well recall, sometime in mid-2015, Microsoft started offering free upgrades to Windows 10 for eligible Windows 7 and 8.1 users through a system tray utility called GWX. So far so good.
However, the one big issue with this tool was that you can't really defer or reject upgrades. The lack of user freedom and choice annoyed me so much that I wrote a thorough, angry guide on how to get rid of it, by changing ownership and permissions of its folders and files. Then, not that long ago, several readers emailed me, telling me my method was failing. Worried and alarmed, I set about testing and verifying. Hence this article.
Wait, so you can no longer change it?
Slow down, relax. Let us check the claims. Indeed, after hearing that users were unable to assume ownership of the GWX objects, I figured that perhaps the KB3035583 update may have somehow changed. To wit, I decided to sacrifice yet another of my Windows 7 test laptops for this exercise.
Shortly after installing the update, I had the GWX icon in my system area. It was offering Windows 10, and just like before, there was no option to actually make this popup sleep for a few weeks or months, or completely reject it. Some neutering is required.
If you've read the first article - and you should - then you know the first task is to assume ownership of the GWX folder. Then I thought, wait, maybe some people were trying to accomplish this task while gwx.exe was still running, and thus maybe failing?
So, your VERY first task is to start the Task Manager and kill the GWX executable. Then, you should open a file explorer, navigate into the Windows folder, locate the GWX folder, right click, Properties. You know the rest. Please read the first tutorial.
Second time around, I had no problem with any one of my steps. I was able to change the ownership and permissions and subsequently rename the folder, making the GWX null and void. Whatever had changed in KB3035583 does not affect your basic ability to manipulate Windows.
This probably means that the concerned readers who had contacted me probably tried to work with the GWX folder while the executable was still running, or they may have other, administrative issues with their setup. But then, maybe this extra bit of information can help you safely and successfully complete the procedure on your system.
Future steps & additional reading
We are still not fully done. In the coming weeks, there shall be a few more rather interesting articles on this topic. First, I will show you yet another cushty little tool that lets you get rid of GWX. It is particularly useful for people who are not comfortable working with the registry, tweaking the system and such. The second article will address an even more amazing and useful feature in Windows, which lets you control GWX, but also pretty much any other program. Meanwhile, you might want to check these articles:
Windows 10 upgrade - do you really want or need it?
How to block Windows OS upgrades - and telemetry FOREVAR
There you go. Some 8-9 months now after I've written my original guide, it is still valid and accurate. You can safely assume ownership of the GWX folder and files and make changes as you see fit. Now, you can also uninstall KB3035583, but that's a different story. This article is all about user choice.
Whether Windows 10 works is irrelevant. There should be a way for loyal users to decline offers, their zero price tag notwithstanding. It comes down to respecting the people using their computers. As simple as that. Alas, big corporations often like to complicate things, but at least you know there's an easy way out. Stay tuned for updates.