How to disable the “Get Windows 10” icon

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There are some things in life that are really obnoxious and annoying.

  • Car dealer commercials.
  • A dog that’s left outside and barks for hours on end early in the morning or late at night.
  • Politicians who will promise anything to get elected.
  • Computerized telemarketing calls on your cell phone.
  • People who make an appointment then don’t show up and don’t call.
  • People who feel entitled.

And last but not least – the Get Windows 10 nag icon in the bottom right corner of Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers.

Get Windows 10 icon

 

When Windows 10 was first made publicly available at the end of July, I made it very clear more than a month ahead of time that my recommendation was to NOT upgrade yet. I know some people who went ahead and got Windows 10. Some are okay with it, and I’ve talked to many people who have regretted the decision to “upgrade”. Some of my clients even purchased brand new computers with Windows 10 already installed, and ended up sending them back to the manufacturer (in this case, Dell) for a refund.

And now, each week I get the question – “Is it safe to upgrade to Windows 10 yet?” And my recommendation is still the same: not yet. When will I recommend you upgrade to Windows 10? I don’t know.

One thing I do know is this. Microsoft has been extremely and obnoxiously aggressive in pushing Windows 10 down the throats of Windows computer users. In some cases, they included it in a Windows Update and computers were upgraded to Windows 10 even without the permission of the user. Lots of Windows computers have already downloaded (silently, in the background) the Win10 installation files and folders so that all it takes is a click from an unknowing user, and the installation begins. Even if it doesn’t get installed, that download takes up several gigabytes of space on the computer’s hard drive.

When this first started happening, I found a way to fix it on my client’s computers. I would just go into the Windows folder on their computer, and rename the GWX (for Get Windows 10) folder to something else. With the folder showing a different name, the upgrade app and icon was not able to run automatically when you turned on the computer, so the icon would not be displayed.

Unfortunately, Microsoft caught on to that pretty quickly. Soon Windows got another update and the folder was renamed to the original name, and that icon started popping up again.

Well now we have a more permanent solution, and you can do this on your own.

A software developer in Portland, Oregon has created a small program that solves this problem, and he has made it available for free. It’s called GWX Control Panel.

There are a couple of ways you can get this program:

  1. You can go to the website ultimateoutsider.com and click on “Software”, and you’ll see GWX control panel listed as one of the programs available for download. If you want to read about the program itself, what it does, and all of those details, you can do that at the website.
  2. The other option is to just use a shortcut I created – ComputerTutorFlorida.com/gwx – as a direct link to download the program. That link takes you to a Dropbox file, so you can just click “Download”, and then run it to install.

You can run the installation file and just leave everything as default – it won’t try to sneak anything in with it. When it’s done and you run the program, you’ll first see the Agreement window:

GWX Control Panel

 

After that you’ll see the main program window. This is what mine looks like now, since I have already installed and run it. For most people, the first time you run it, the answers to the questions will be “Yes”.

 

GWX Control Panel

While it may look like a lot of items to contend with here, it’s really this simple: the first 2 wide buttons near the bottom of the screen directly correlate with the first 3 questions at the top of the screen.

So you just click the first 2 wide buttons:

  1. Click “Disable Windows 10 App” and the first 2 questions questions at the top change from Yes to No.
  2. Click “Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update” and the third question changes from Yes to No.

Optionally, if there are Windows 10 download folders found, you can click “Delete Windows 10 Download Folders” to free up that space on your hard drive.

Two other options:

  1. If you want the program to run in the background and monitor if any Windows 10 related settings or features somehow gets on your computer, you can click “Enable Monitor Mode”. If something does show up, the little icon in the lower right will flash to alert you of this.
  2. If you are interested in more details of how this program works, you can click on “Display the User Guide” to see the full set of instructions and a more detailed explanation.

I’ve been using this on client computers for a while now, and I’ve been very pleased with the results. No spyware, no bugs (that I have found) and it just works for the purpose it was intended – keeping Windows 10 off the computer, no matter how hard Microsoft tries to get it on there.

As a disclaimer, I did not create this program and have no control over it, so if you decide to use it, you do so at your own risk. But I use it on my own computers and I think it’s great.

And by running this program, it does not eliminate your opportunity to EVER upgrade to Windows 10 in the future. You can click the same buttons and enable that upgrade option whenever you want to. I just wouldn’t recommend doing it right now.

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Michael
December 8th, 2015

You didn’t mention whether to click “Monitor Mode” or not.

(Can’t imagine anyone would want or need anything like this “running” once they’ve already “turned off” the offending nag screen from MS. Can you?)

Scott Johnson
December 8th, 2015

It’s optional. It would just detect if Microsoft somehow decided to sneak the Windows 10 upgrade files back on the computer, so you would be notified of that. But it’s not really necessary.