Blocking Windows 10 Creators Update and File Explorer Ads

Not every upgrade is welcome, even if it does provide a bevy of features. Takes Windows 10 Creators Update, which started rolling out to beta testers and will next be delivered to the vast body of Windows 10 users.

This update includes a bunch of new items that will please consumers and gamers, but do far less for enterprise customers. Because of its consumer bent, enterprises may want to block or at least delay this upgrade.

But there is a more compelling reason to say no, according to long time Windows guru Paul Thurrott. Creators Update means your Windows File Explorer could be stuffed with ads. While many of these are for useful Microsoft services such as OneDrive, the technology makes a veritable wave of ads possible.

The Kaseya community recognized this issue quickly, and our customer/community portal Automation Exchange soon came to the rescue. The site, that shares tips, scripts, agents and other IT goodies, now includes an agent procedure that “will block (defer) Windows 10 Creators Update on Windows 10.

The Windows update cannot be blocked be it can be delayed for 180 days by changing a few windows options via registry keys. This procedure works on Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education only,” our Automation Exchange site said.

The Creators Update will be installed on all systems where Automatic Updates are enabled. For end users, blocking the update is a fairly involved process, which Thurrott details in his article.

The beauty of the Kaseya agent procedure is that can be applied through Kaseya VSA to all systems under VSA management, making the task of blocking/delaying a snap.

Microsoft and Ads

Thurrott has been active in the Microsoft Windows ads debate for years. “I’ve led the charge against Microsoft’s advertising efforts in Windows, noting back in 2012 that the software giant cheapened Windows 8 with ads. Despite my warnings about a slippery slope—Microsoft would only escalate its in-box advertising down the road, I cautioned—Windows 10, sadly, was even worse. And now the Creators Update is coming, bringing with it yet another escalation of in-product advertising. Most notably, and most disturbingly, in File Explorer,” he argued.

Thurrott, and the many people that posted in his article’s comment section, don’t think ads should be part of the Microsoft operating system. “Ad-like notifications for OneDrive do appear in File Explorer in the Anniversary Update, but people running the Creators Update are now seeing actual advertising,” Thurrott said. “To be clear, File Explorer is the Windows 10 shell, a core part of the operating system. So like the mobile apps that first bore advertising back in Windows 8, yes, it is very much a “part of” Windows, or “in” Windows. It is Windows. This is a sad state of affairs.”

The Big Ad Debate

Readers of Thurrott’s article were of two minds, with most fully against the Microsoft ad move and a handful seeing things differently.

Here is a typical response. “This is undeniably a terrible state for the OS. It’s really sad especially since open source, privacy respecting operating systems like RH/Fedora have no advertising, yet remain literally free. On the other hand, honest paying customers have to put up with the mediocrity introduced by advertising throughout windows,” one critic complained.

In contrast, one reader sees things Microsoft’s way. “I don’t like the ads either, but bottom line is that MS has to make money in some manner.  Surely we all recognize Windows isn’t free and it isn’t free to produce.  MS isn’t living on the iPhone gold mine like Apple,” the reader wrote. “I can live with this sort of advertising.  When they start throwing things up in my face that I must dismiss to continue the task I’m working on, I’ll start looking for alternatives.  The notifications they’ve added when opening a competitor browser, such as Chrome, are borderline invasive.  I worry about those more than the other forms of advertising.”

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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