I stepped away from my computer for dinner, halfway through writing another story The edge. When I came back, I could not believe my eyes.
Windows 10 had restarted my computer without permission once again – to install another forced OS update on my solid state drive.
The craziest part: When my machine was done restarting, it now contained the exact thing I had written about before I was rudely interrupted. Microsoft had installed unwanted, unwanted web app versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook on my computer.
OK, this is not as bad as when my entire computer screen was taken over by an unwanted copy of Microsoft Edge. It was really creepy.
No, this time Microsoft is just sneaking unwanted web apps onto my PC – and using my Windows 10 Start menu as free advertising space. Did I mention that icons for Microsoft Office apps have magically appeared in my Start menu, even though I never once installed Office on this computer?
By the way, these are not full free copies of Office. They are just shortcuts to the web version you could already access in any web browser of your choice, which doubles as advertisements to pay for a more fully equipped copy.
Because they are web apps, it’s not like they take up any space on my computer, and I do not mind them in my Start menu. They are among the least offensive bloatware I have seen and I never really look at the Start menu – my taskbar and search box have long been enough for me.
Nevertheless, they are the latest proof that Microsoft does not respect your ownership of your own PC, the latest example of Microsoft installing something it likes in a Windows update up to and including bloatware, and the latest example of, that Microsoft cares more about the bottom line than about a few people losing their jobs when Windows suddenly shuts down their PC. Thankfully, I did not lose a job today, but one of my friends recently did:
Microsoft seems to think that our computers are free advertising space, a place where it can selfishly promote its other products – even though they were told in the 90’s that it was not OK to assemble a web browser. Now they are assembling a browser you cannot install and a set of PWA web apps starting in the same browser. (Yes, they fire Edge even if you have set a different browser by default.)
As I have argued before, decisions like this undermine the one well argument Microsoft actually has for mandatory updates – that they provide important security patches that keep computers (yours and others) safe. It’s a harder argument when the most visible difference after a new update is an attempt to make more money!
Like ZDNet veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley notes, this is not just an experiment happening with some Windows Insiders. I am not registered for the Windows Insider program on this PC. The company has not yet deigned to respond to Foley’s requests for comment, but let’s see if that changes next week.