Thursday, November 26, 2015

The GWX Control Panel FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

This post answers a number of questions I've received about GWX Control Panel, the program that helps protect Windows 7 and Windows 8 users from unwanted Windows 10-related notifications and upgrades.


 If you can't find the answer you're looking for here, you might find it at one of these other posts:

1. WILL GWX CONTROL PANEL BLOCK WINDOWS UPDATE FROM INSTALLING SPECIFIC PATCHES LIKE KB2952664, KB2976978, KB3035583, KB3123862, ETC?

While I describe all the things GWX Control Panel does and doesn't do in the "What it does and how it works" section of the user guide, I still get questions like this every couple of days, so I'll go into more detail here. It is a complex issue, and I will address it in three parts:

THE PAST
If I had to sum up GWX Control Panel with a one-line mission statement, it would be, "Let users fix Windows 10-related annoyances with just a couple of clicks." By "annoyances" I mean visible or tangible problems that Microsoft's Windows 10 campaign causes users of Windows 7 and Windows 8. The first few features I implemented in GWX Control Panel fit perfectly into that theme:
  • Dismiss and prevent the "Get Windows 10" icon.
  • Block Windows 10 upgrades.
  • Restore normal Windows Update control panel behavior if it's been hijacked by Windows 10.
  • Find and delete the hidden Windows 10 download folders to free up disk space.
I was able to accomplish all of those things without blocking or uninstalling any Windows Update patches. On my own personal computers, I always install all Windows Update patches- and with GWX Control Panel installed and enabled, I never experience any of the above symptoms. As far as I was concerned, investing development time into blocking individual Windows Update patches didn't make sense to me, because I was able to stop all of Microsoft's undesirable behaviors without hiding or uninstalling a single Windows Update patch.

And here's the reason I didn't see what value such a feature would deliver: Other than KB3035583 (which I discuss in the next section) and the actual Windows 10 Upgrade itself, the majority of alleged Windows 10-related Windows Update patches that people talk about on message boards don't appear to cause any visible Windows 10-related behavior that isn't already addressed by GWX Control Panel. I've gotten so many emails asking why I'm not doing something to block KB2952664, KB2976978, KB3123862, etc, but the problem is: Those updates don't appear to do anything bad if you're already using GWX Control Panel to disable Windows 10 upgrades. (Note: If you can provide concrete evidence otherwise, please send it my way! I analyze every new supposed Win 10-related patch with my own arsenal of debugging and analysis tools, and I just haven't found them to do anything that my program doesn't already stop.)

THE PRESENT
First, let me clarify a couple of things: I do explicitly block the "Upgrade to Windows 10" patch that can appear in Windows Update depending on your computer's settings. That is actually a special update that is controlled and delivered in a different manner from your typical "KB" updates. Also, while I don't prevent the notorious KB3035583 patch from installing on your computer, my Monitor Mode will notify you if the patch gets installed and my Delete Windows 10 Programs feature will neutralize the update better than actually uninstalling the update would.

So let me be very clear: As of version 1.7.2.0, with the exception of the actual "Upgrade to Windows 10" patch, GWX Control Panel does not prevent specific Windows Update patches from installing, because they don't appear to cause any Windows 10 annoyances that GWX Control Panel can't fix. You control which updates to install via the Windows Update control panel, and I honor your preferences.

THE FUTURE
All of the above said, since people do still contact me about this issue quite often, I am investigating possible ways to safely and elegantly prevent known Win 10-related updates from installing, even if blocking them doesn't really seem to offer any benefits to-date as long as you're already using GWX Control Panel. While I personally haven't found it necessary to police which updates get installed on my PCs, there's always the possibility that Microsoft could surprise us with some new nasty update some day, and I'd like to be ready for it. So keep an eye out for news on this front... I don't have an E.T.A. for that though. (Update: August 1, 2016... I reached about 95% complete on an update manager for GWX Control Panel but wasn't able to complete it before the July 29 deadline due to work obligations. The code I developed will likely make its way into a future product, and may even make it into a future version of GWX Control Panel if Microsoft ever brings back the free Windows 10 campaign.)

2. DO I NEED GWX CONTROL PANEL NOW THAT MICROSOFT ENDED THE "GET WINDOWS 10" UPGRADE CAMPAIGN ON JULY 29th?

Honestly, it's just too early to say. Right now tens (hundreds?) of millions of Windows 7/8.1 computers still have Microsoft's "Get Windows 10" app installed, even if it's not currently bugging them to upgrade. I've seen a couple people mention that Microsoft might re-ignite the campaign at some point, in which case you'll probably want to make sure you have some way to protect yourself from unwanted upgrades. It's also possible that Microsoft might alter their methods so that the settings and procedures GWX Control Panel uses to protect users from Windows 10 are no longer effective. So anyway, we just don't know- but we're probably safe for at least a few months.

I have written step-by-step instructions for removing/uninstalling GWX Control Panel for anyone who's not used to uninstalling Windows software. (Of course, many GWX Control Panel users used the stand-alone version of the program which doesn't require true "uninstallation" at all. Just disable Monitor Mode if it's running and delete the file.)

3. CAN I REALLY PERMANENTLY DISABLE ANY WINDOWS 10 FEATURES WITH GWX CONTROL PANEL?

At the time I'm writing this, the "Disable" features of GWX Control Panel really do what they're intended to do; they prevent unwanted OS upgrades and notifications. This works after system restarts and most Windows Updates with no further intervention on your part. GWX Control Panel doesn't break or uninstall any Windows features; it just gives you control over when things happen.

But Windows is a moving target. If Microsoft pushes another update that changes the Get Windows 10 or Windows Update behavior, or locks its upgrade settings down even further than they are already, the icon and the notifications and other annoyances might come back. If that ever happens, I will do my best to combat it and publish updates at my downloads page.

But this is important to keep in mind: As long as you have Windows Update enabled, Microsoft has the ability to install new software and change your settings. GWX Control Panel honors your Windows Update settings: If you have Windows Update set to "automatically install updates," GWX Control Panel can't prevent new Windows 10-related change from being installed on your computer. What it can and does do is to notify you whenever new Windows 10 files or settings are found on your PC and gives you the ability to easily fix things.

We have seen at least one case where a Windows Update patch can re-enable some settings that GWX Control Panel disables. (Specifically, it appears to be a recent overhaul to the Windows 7 and Windows 8 versions of Windows Update, which also resets all Windows Update settings, including those related to Windows 10 upgrades.) I've also seen and heard of several cases where a Windows 10-related setting will just seem to spontaneously change status while you're working on your computer. This is likely due to Windows 10-related processes launched by the Windows Task Scheduler. They get onto your computer via Windows Update, but don't necessarily run until some time after you apply your updates.

Be vigilant and run GWX Control Panel after new updates are installed to make sure the OS hasn't re-enabled unwanted features. (Or use the new Monitor Mode introduced with version 1.6 to be notified immediately if any Windows 10 settings revert to enabled state unexpectedly.)

4. I HAVE USED GWX CONTROL PANEL IN THE PAST BUT NOW I'M READY TO UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 10. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?

You have a few different options depending on how you've used GWX Control Panel and how you'd like to perform your upgrade.

If you've only used GWX Control Panel to Disable the 'Get Windows 10' app and Prevent Automatic Windows 10 Upgrades:
 

Both of these features are easily reversible. Just click Enable 'Get Windows 10' app to bring the icon back and click Allow Windows 10 Upgrades to enable Windows 10 services in Windows Update. (You might also want to click Enable Non-critical Windows 10 Settings if that is available.) Now you can click the Get Windows 10 app to begin the upgrade process. Alternatively, if you do a fresh Check for updates in Windows Update after re-enabling these features, you might find the Upgrade to Windows 10 patch available as an installable option (not everyone sees this option; I don't know why).

If you have already used the Delete Windows 10 Download Folders or Delete Windows 10 Programs features:
 

Since these features delete files, you need to take an extra step or two to upgrade to Windows 10. First, make sure to click Allow Windows 10 Upgrades in GWX Control Panel to enable Windows 10 services in Windows Update. After that you have two options:
  1. Use Microsoft's Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to download and install Windows 10. (Please see that linked page for instructions.)
    -or-
  2. Open the Programs and Features control panel and click View installed updates. In the search box in the upper-right of the window, enter: kb3035583 It might take Windows a few seconds to perform the search. Eventually you should see an entry labeled "Update for Microsoft Windows (KB3035583)". Select this entry and then click Uninstall. (See screenshot below.)
    After Windows uninstalls the update, open up your Windows Update control panel and click Check for updates. Wait for Windows Update to check for new updates. This can take a while depending on your computer and how busy Microsoft's update servers are. Once the search is complete, Windows should return with a message like "Install updates for your computer," and will probably also say at least 1 important update is available. Click the "important update available" link to confirm KB3035583 is one of the available updates. (If you don't see KB3035583 listed, you might have to go back to the main Windows Update screen and click Restore hidden updates to un-hide KB3035583. Once you're able to see and select that update, click OK or Install updates, depending on which screen you're on. Once the update is complete, if you don't see Microsoft's Get Windows 10 icon right away, try restarting Windows. If it still doesn't appear make sure you don't have it disabled in GWX Control Panel. Once you can see the icon you can follow the instructions in the first part of this answer.

5. WHY DOES WINDOWS ASK ME IF I WANT TO ALLOW GWX CONTROL PANEL TO MAKE CHANGES TO MY COMPUTER?

When you attempt to perform an action in GWX Control Panel that changes Windows settings, you might see a dialog box that says, “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?” This is a function of the User Account Control feature of Windows. GWX Control Panel requires so-called “Administrator privileges” in order to perform some of its tasks, so if you see this dialog box, you must click Yes in order to continue loading the program. You will only be prompted to do this once per GWX Control Panel session.

If Windows doesn't ask this question, it probably means the User Account Control feature is disabled.

6. WILL GWX CONTROL PANEL PREVENT MICROSOFT FROM UPGRADING MY COMPUTER TO WINDOWS 10?

Yes, it appears to- if you use it early enough! (See the next couple of questions for more info.)

First off, according to a Microsoft employee I know and trust, Microsoft will not (yet) intentionally upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer to Windows 10 without your consent. (The purpose of the Get Windows 10 app is to annoy you into giving your consent!) You give your consent by clicking the Reserve your free upgrade button in the Get Windows 10 app, which you will only see if you click the notification icon or one of its notification pop-ups. You only have to click this once to get the ball rolling, and there is no "Are you sure?" confirmation.
By clicking this button, you give your consent to install Windows 10.
Even though it's possible to cancel your Windows 10 upgrade reservation in the Get Windows 10 app, doing so appears to put your computer in a state where it can actually download Windows 10 as a Windows Update. (I tested reserving and canceling on one of my Windows 7 computers, and afterward my Windows Update control panel always defaulted to a "Upgrade to Windows 10" screen and I had to click Show all available updates and then deselect Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro in order to install regular Windows updates.) So if you really don't want Windows 10 yet, it's best not to click that "Reserve" button to begin with!

Anyway, I've done several months of testing on eight computers running Windows 7 and Windows 8, and the full Windows 10 installer has not downloaded on any computers where I had used the "Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update" feature of the program.

As an update, in early October Microsoft issued a patch to the Windows Update system which reset some settings GWX Control Panel looks for, related to OS upgrades. Running the latest version of GWX Control Panel on my test systems returned them all to "disabled" status. To date I still haven't seen the 'Get Windows 10' icon re-appear on any of my computers where I disabled it with GWX Control Panel, only the "OS Upgrades" settings.

7. WILL GWX CONTROL PANEL PREVENT MICROSOFT FROM PUSHING THE WINDOWS 10 INSTALLER ONTO MY PC?

Yes, it appears to- again, if you use it early enough. (See next question for details.)

Beginning with version 1.3, the Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update feature of GWX Control Panel attempts to block the secret download of the Windows 10 installer onto your PC. If the folder already exists, GWX Control Panel won't delete it- but if you apply the "disable operating system upgrades" feature and restart your computer, Windows shouldn't download any more of the installer until you re-enable upgrades and restart again.

There are two reasons I have to say that GWX Control Panel appears to work here: First, Microsoft has their own formulas for determining who gets the download files and when, so it's not something that's easy to test. I basically just have to leave my test computers running and wait. Second, in light of recent rumors that Microsoft is pushing the secret download to PCs, whether users have requested an upgrade or not, I don't know whether Microsoft is doing something new to force the downloads that GWX Control Panel doesn't know about yet.

All I can say is that on the eight or so computers where I have run GWX Control Panel, the only one that has downloaded the installer was one where I had explicitly requested the upgrade. (And this was before I had implemented the "disable operating system upgrades" feature.) I am still watching to see if things change.

8. WINDOWS IS ONLY GIVING ME THE OPTIONS OF RESCHEDULING OR IMMEDIATELY STARTING THE WINDOWS 10 UPGRADE: WILL GWX CONTROL PANEL HELP ME?

Yes! After weeks of research and experimentation, versions from 1.4 on include some logic specifically intended to address the following behavior: If you are seeing either of the following screens, it means that Microsoft has pushed your PC into a state that the first few versions of GWX Control Panel were not designed to reverse:

This dialog says "It's almost time for your upgrade" and only gives you the options of "Let's Reschedule" or "Start the upgrade now." (Thanks to Bill M. for the screenshot.)

This Windows Update screen says "Your upgrade to Windows 10 is ready" and only gives you the option to "Restart now." (Thanks to David R. for the screenshot.) This is different from the problem where Windows Update defaults to saying "Upgrade to Windows 10" but you can click a link to view your current OS updates.
If you are seeing either of the above two screens, exactly as they appear here, current versions of GWX Control Panel should finally be able to help you, but I am still looking for confirmation from users experiencing this specific problem. It has been an especially tough problem to work on since I've never been able to reproduce it on my own systems, and don't have access to any computers that were experiencing the issue.

OTHER PROBLEMS THAT GWX CONTROL PANEL DOES FIX:

To be perfectly clear, if you're seeing either of these following screens, these are things GWX Control Panel also can and does fix.

All versions of GWX Control Panel eliminate the Get Windows 10 App icon and its pop-up messages.
Beginning with version 1.2, GWX Control Panel can fix the problem where Windows Update says "Upgrade to Windows 10" and makes you click an extra "Show all available updates" link in order to see your current updates.
Additionally, GWX Control Panel will keep Microsoft from downloading the hidden 6GB Windows 10 install folder onto your Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC- again, if you use it early enough.

9. DOES GWX CONTROL PANEL RUN IN THE BACKGROUND AND MONITOR CHANGES MICROSOFT MAKES TO MY UPDATE SETTINGS?

Beginning with version 1.6, the optional "Monitor Mode" feature does exactly this (see the user guide for details). If you don't enable Monitor Mode, the GWX Control Panel only runs when you launch it, and while it actively monitors your Windows upgrade settings while it's running, it doesn't/can't watch your settings after you quit the program. (I am considering that functionality as an optional feature, but not promising anything yet.)

I have noticed that Microsoft occasionally re-pushes some of the Windows 10-related updates, even if you already installed them before. (For example, on October 5, my Windows Update told me I had an "important update" waiting that turned out to be the original "Get Windows 10 app" update, KB3035583, even though my Windows Update logs clearly show that update was already installed on my PC on August 21.)

It is possible that when Microsoft does this, they might overwrite some of the GWX Control Panel settings, meaning you might want to run GWX Control Panel after performing Windows Update to double-check that Microsoft didn't re-enable features you had previously disabled. I recommend restarting Windows before re-running GWX Control Panel, because some of these Windows 10-related updates don't "kick in" until after you restart Windows, and GWX Control Panel might not recognize they're in place until that time.

On some of my Windows 7 systems, I noticed that a recent Windows Update (probably this one) reset the "Windows Update OS upgrades enabled" setting, which can potentially open you up to an accidental Windows 10 upgrade. I actually don't think this was a malicious change on Microsoft's part (the update in question was actually for Windows Update itself, and I think it just cleared out ALL update-related settings, not just those related to Windows 10), but it is our first evidence that Microsoft can change some of these settings via updates, so you will need to be vigilant and run GWX Control Panel after they're installed. (Or disable automatic updates, but I'm still not comfortable doing that personally.)

10. CAN GWX CONTROL PANEL DELETE THE HIDDEN WINDOWS 10 DOWNLOAD FOLDERS?

Yes (beginning with version 1.5).

An original design goal of GWX Control Panel was to only make changes to your system that could easily be reversed, so I tried to avoid any features that involved permanently removing files. But the fact is that manually removing the $Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS files is a hassle. There are scripts and tutorials online to help you do it, but I received a lot of requests to add this feature to the program, and it made sense. I also saw it as a personal challenge, since the work required to delete some of these hidden files programmatically is, in my opinion, some of the hardest programming you can do in Windows.

There are probably some performance and UI optimizations I can do while the process is underway, but for now it works and at least gives you a ballpark indication of where in the process you are.

11. WHO ARE YOU? 

Professionally, I've worked as a software engineer for 20 years, with the most recent 16 years of that in the Tech industry. I have developed software for every version of Windows from 3.1 through Windows 10, and have recently begun working in embedded Linux.

In my spare time I write and record music, although I've devoted the past 3 or 4 years almost exclusively to developing my recording and mixing skills so that my original compositions sound more professional. As I acquire knowledge and develop my own skills, I also maintain the Ultimate Outsider blog, which is primarily focused on music production.

And of course I also sometimes write and publish free software.

12. WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS PROGRAM?

I use my main desktop PC for music production, and at the moment some applications and hardware that are critical to my work either have known compatibility issues with, or flat-out don't work in Windows 10- so I'm sticking with Windows 7 until I'm reasonably confident my stuff will still function correctly after I upgrade. While I don't have any general negative opinions on Microsoft or Windows 10, I found the Get Windows 10 app's relentless upgrade reminders absolutely infuriating because there was no obvious way to stop them. Of course I found some solutions online (of wildly varying complexity and efficacy), but I had a bigger problem...

You see, I also had a lot of friends and family with Windows 7 and Windows 8 on their computers who were also continually pestered by the Get Windows 10 app- and I wanted to give them a solution that was literally so easy my mom could do it. None of the tutorials I'd seen about how to deal with the app are what I'd consider novice-friendly, whereas GWX Control Panel is a one-click solution.

13. DO YOU SHARE YOUR SOURCE CODE?

Like the majority of Windows developers, I do not publish my source code. While I wrote GWX Control Panel (and every other free tool I've published) on my own time, with my own OS and developer tool licenses (thank you, Microsoft, for the Visual Studio Community Edition!) and while I distribute the programs for free, the knowledge and experience that goes into my programs is my most valuable personal asset in terms of my career and livelihood. It's the reason people pay me to code for them, and I protect it.

Although the core logic behind GWX Control Panel's ability to control and configure the Get Windows 10 app is what I consider somewhat trivial, the GWX Control Panel application consumes my personal class library, which is a 100% original code base of elegant, efficient utility functions covering many aspects of working in Windows. I use it for everything I write in my free time, and to share GWX Control Panel's code would be to share my private library code- and I just won't do that.

14. WHY SHOULD I TRUST YOUR SOFTWARE?

That's a fair question, and here's what I can offer in response:
  • I have a track record. I've been publishing free tools for developers, system admins, (and more recently, music producers) since the late 90s. Some of the tools at my old site have been downloaded tens of thousands of times. (I'm as surprised as anyone about that, by the way. I don't think I've even touched that site for over a decade, but every time I consider pulling the plug on it I check the stats only to find that thousands of people are still going there every month.) The only complaints I've ever gotten about those tools were from people using my 16-year-old programs on brand new computers with much more RAM and storage space than a couple of my tools were originally written to account for. Also, my more recent programs, Nexus Preset Organizer and UltimatePluginTool have been downloaded thousands of times each, and I've only ever gotten positive feedback... except for a few Mac users unhappy about the fact that I haven't ported anything to OS X.
  • My recent programs are digitally signed. A digital signature serves two important purposes: First, it proves that the copy of the file you received is an authentic, unmodified binary that the author intended. If anyone attempts to tamper with the binary, doing so violates the digital signature. (More on this in the next question.) Second, the signature ties a real-world developer (as well as the developer's web domain) to the binary file. I had to go through an excruciating three-week process to get approval for my digital signature, because of the lengths that the signing authorities go to in order to ensure that certificates are awarded to legitimate individuals and businesses. Developers who write sketchy software don't sign their binaries, because doing so leaves a paper trail.
  • My web site has been white-listed by the Microsoft SmartScreen filter. Windows 8 and Windows 10 have a SmartScreen feature that checks downloads against a list of known malware sites, and when you attempt to launch a downloaded program from either a known malicious site or simply a site whose provenance is not yet known, they display a warning before letting you proceed with the file. (This is different from the User Account Control warnings I describe elsewhere.) When I first started distributing software from the ultimateoutsider.com domain, my downloads triggered SmartScreen warnings simply because Microsoft had no record of my reputation one way or the other, but after a couple of weeks of consistent safe downloads from my site, I built up a positive reputation in the SmartScreen system and my downloads no longer trigger SmartScreen notifications.

15. HOW CAN I TELL IF MY COPY OF GWX CONTROL PANEL IS AUTHENTIC?

Within a day of publishing GWX Control Panel it was showing up on third-party sites for download. (It's even showing up on torrent sites, for some reason?) While I can only vouch for software that you download from my own downloads page, here are some ways you can prove the file you downloaded is authentic.
  • GWX Control Panel and the official GWX Control Panel setup program are digitally signed. If someone tampers with my file, its digital signature will be invalidated. Here's how you can check that the signature is still intact: Locate the copy of GWX_control_panel.exe (or GwxControlPanelSetup.exe) you downloaded in Windows Explorer. Right-click the file and then click Properties. You should see a tab called Digital Signatures. If you don't see the Digital Signatures tab, then the file is not authentic! If you do see the Digital Signatures tab, there should be only a single "sha1" signature listed, with my real name listed as the signer. If you select the signature and click Details, you'll see that the signature is tied to both my real name and the ultimateoutsider.com domain. If you see anything other than an ultimateoutsider.com email address, then this file did not come from me!
  • The official GWX Control Panel setup program does not install any additional software! If you received GWX Control Panel via some installer that had ads or installed third-party software, that was not a legitimate installer.
  • Your copy should match my published MD5 and SHA-1 checksums. I have updated the downloads page with the MD5 and SHA-1 checksum values for GWX Control Panel. Here's how to confirm that your copy matches the one that I published: Get the MD5 & SHA Checksum Utility and launch it. When the program opens, click Browse to locate your downloaded copy of GWX_control_panel.exe or GwxControlPanelSetup.exe. The MD5 and SHA-1 values that appear should match the values I published for GWX Control Panel on my downloads page. The published values reflect the version that's currently available for download. Checksum values for previous versions are listed in the Release Notes section of the user guide.
  • The only official distribution point for GWX Control Panel is ultimateoutsider.com. I am the only person who controls what gets published here, and while I don't have any evidence that third parties have tampered with my files in the wild, better safe than sorry. I stand behind everything I write, but only if you get it from here.

16. DOES GWX CONTROL PANEL DO ANYTHING THAT HASN'T BEEN DESCRIBED IN VARIOUS TUTORIALS OR MESSAGE BOARD THREADS?

There are lots of blog posts and message board threads discussing how to get rid of the Get Windows 10 app, but aside from frequently being too advanced for truly novice users, I've also observed the following:
  • Some methods are only temporary fixes. They make the app go away until you restart Windows, or maybe until you do another Windows Update, but they don't truly stop the Get Windows 10 app from bothering you- they just postpone it.
  • Some methods are what I'd consider unsafe (especially the ones that involve you disabling Windows Update).
  • Some methods have potential to result in unexpected or undesired behavior if you're not completely sure what you're doing or if you apply a change to the wrong files or folders.
  • Some were more permanent/final solutions than I liked. I didn't want to delete or permanently break the application; I wanted to be able to re-enable the Get Windows 10 app when I was ready to use it.
  • And some just went way beyond what was truly necessary to keep the Get Windows 10 app from bothering you.
GWX Control Panel doesn't do anything particularly special (well, the early versions didn't anyway). It's just simple and safe, reversible (except for the features that delete files), and it works.

17. WHY DID YOU RENAME THE PROGRAM?

A few days after publishing this program under its original name, I discovered an online video about another, somewhat mysterious program with the same name. While this other program appeared to have the same ostensible purpose as mine- to dismiss the 'Get Windows 10' icon- the video left me with a lot of questions. For one thing, I cannot find any information about this other program on the website of the apparent developer, although the direct download link in the video's description goes to their site. I haven't used or downloaded the other program, so I won't speculate on how it works or what it does. I can only say that based on what I saw in that video, even if I had known about that other program's existence beforehand I still would have written mine. I'd have just named it something else.

So anyway, I renamed my program to eliminate any confusion between the two utilities. The funny thing is, when I was writing my tool, it was originally called "GWX Closer." I decided I didn't like that name, though, because it implied that the program only closed a running instance of the Get Windows 10 app, rather than permanently disabling it. I'm embarrassed for not having web-searched the name before I published the tool. "GWX Control Panel" appears to be safe for now, though!

18. ANYTHING ELSE?

Why yes, thank you for asking, imaginary reader! As I mentioned earlier, I am neither anti-Microsoft nor anti-Windows 10, but I am absolutely opposed to the design and methodology of the Get Windows 10 App.

The Get Windows 10 app has many traits that are usually associated with malware:
  • It's non-essential software that's deceptively bundled with other, legitimate software via the Windows Update process. Even if you're the type to pick and choose Windows updates individually, the summary information about the update that installs the app makes the patch sound like a bug fix rather than a nagware installer: "Install this update to resolve issues in Windows." In computer security circles, software that claims to be something it's not is called a Trojan. You will only know what the patch actually installs if you click the More information link, which brings you to the KB3035583 Knowledge Base article.
    The misleading description of the update that installs the Get Windows 10 nagware.
  • It repeatedly and frequently interrupts your day-to-day work. Once the Get Windows 10 App is installed on your computer, it will pop up unexpected reminders to upgrade, and it won't stop bugging you until you relent and move on to Windows 10. This behavior basically turns your legitimately licensed copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8 into nagware.
  • It cannot be disabled or configured via normal means. Just about any other legitimate system tray ("notification area") application these days offers a right-click menu with the ability to disable notifications or prevent the tool from starting with Windows. Not doing so is in direct opposition to Microsoft's own guidelines on how to develop applications that display icons in the notification area.
    These are only SOME of Microsoft's design guidelines the Get Windows 10 app ignores.
  • It is difficult for novice users to locate and remove. Just like most modern viruses and malware, the Get Windows 10 app installs in a location where most users would not know to look, and uses non-descriptive file and folder names to obscure its identity. The app lives in a folder named GWX ("Get Windows 10"- get it?) under the System32 folder of your Windows directory. The files are locked down with special permissions, meaning they are very difficult to rename or remove- although it is possible with the right system permissions and procedures. Of course most users look in the Programs and Features control panel when they want to remove software- and although you can use the control panel to remove the KB3035583 update, you obviously have to know that it's where the GWX app came from. But even if you manage to do that, it will also re-install automatically in future Windows updates.
  • It can break user expectations. After some experimentation with the Get Windows 10 experience, I've discovered that if you reserve your Windows 10 upgrade via the 'Get Windows 10' app, but then decide you don't wish to upgrade and cancel your reservation, Windows can still automatically upgrade your computer to Windows 10 by selecting and installing an optional 'Upgrade to Windows 10' update that becomes available some time after you reserve your copy. This probably explains various reports I've heard of people receiving unexpected operating system upgrades. When a user says "no" to something you can't break your contract with the user and proceed anyway.

I have legitimate reasons for wanting to stick with Windows 7 for the moment since several tools I rely on simply aren't Windows 10-compatible yet, but Microsoft is literally trying to annoy me into upgrading to a new operating system that I'm just not ready for. The Get Windows 10 app is evil software, and I don't like the precedent that it sets, particularly given how successful it's apparently been at accomplishing Microsoft's objectives. GWX Control Panel is my humble protest against the app, and hopefully a way to help other Windows 7 and Windows 8 users regain control over their computing experience.

19. HOW CAN I SUPPORT GWX CONTROL PANEL?

I develop and maintain free software on my own time. I don't charge a fee because I want everyone to have equal access to my programs- and unlike a lot of developers of "free" software, I don't bundle any annoying third-party programs, spyware, or advertising with my tools. However, if something I wrote helped you and you'd like to express your thanks in a concrete way, you can send a donation of any amount via PayPal. Support from my visitors covers my hosting and licensing costs, and gives me incentive to keep putting out cool new utilities.

If you wish to help out, you can enter a donation amount below and then click on the Donate button. You do not need a PayPal account in order to donate! Just click the "Don't have a PayPal account" option on the page that comes up after you click the Donate button. The donation amount is in U.S. Dollars (USD).

Amount: $


Note: You might receive a personal "thank you" from me in response, but I won't sign you up for any mailing lists and you won't hear from me again unless you contact me first. Thanks for your consideration!

Click here on the PayPal page if you don't have a PayPal account.

59 comments:

nyceddie said...

I'm not a computer "geek" (no aspersions intended) but I was glad to have discovered GWX Control Panel from an article on rensedotcom a few days ago. However, prior to that discovery I had already done Google searches for how to stop Windows 10 from being installed on my 8.1 desktop. Unfortunately, I had given Microsoft permission to alert me when it was ready for my pc clicking on their icon on the taskbar. That was before I read many warnings about what I would be subject to once I gave my permission.

A few sources mentioned two updates to be aware of and once they appeared to delete them. The updates are KB3035583 and KB2976978. Shortly after I saw the numbers appear on my installed updates.

To cut to the chase, I downloaded the GWX Control Panel and this is what it found:
"Is Get 'Windows 10' app running? - (App not found.)"
"Is Get 'Windows 10' app enabled? - (App not found.)"
"Are Windows Update OS upgrades enabled? - Yes."
"Windows 10 Download folders found? - No."
"Size of Windows 10 download folders: - (not found)"

Below the above are some enabling lines "blocked out" by a foggy grey. I don't see a box for attachments so I can't include the screen print of it.

Thanks for providing an alternative to help control the MS juggernaut.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@nyceddie - Immediately below the "Size of Windows 10 download folders" line are two buttons that you can use to open the hidden folders if they exist. If the folders don't exist, those buttons are "grayed out" and therefore unclickable.

Judging by the settings you listed, it sounds like the only feature you need to worry about right now is the "Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update" button. Use that and restart Windows if it recommends that you do. That will put some settings in place to protect your PC from unwanted upgrades. But you don't currently have the "get windows 10 app" or the hidden install folders at the moment, so you're in good shape.

Doug Paulley said...

Just wanted to say Thank You for this program.

Wil deGast said...

Everytime I restart my computer, GWX reports that "Are Windows Update OS upgrades enabled" are set to Yes, even though I have repeatedly selected the "Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update". Whenever I select this, GWX requests an restartm which I do. Upon that restart, GWX shows "Are Windows UPdate OS upgrades enabled?" as No, but upon the next startup of my PC, it's reset to Yes.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Wil - Can you please use the "Save Diagnostic Info" feature the next time it's reporting that the features are enabled again and send it to me? You can get to it by clicking the icon in the upper-left corner of GWX Control Panel. It will save a TXT file to your desktop with the information I need.

I have heard a few reports of people observing settings changing on them, but we don't know what Windows components are doing this yet.

Iain said...

Thanks for a really useful utility. I've got two W7 PCs here in France and my research shows that one is definitely incompatible with W10 and other owners of the second report on forums a host of problems with incompatible drivers when they've tried upgrading.

Despite declining W10 on both machines, Windows update managed to download 5.4 GB of files to one of them before I was able to halt the upgrade process by uninstalling 2 updates, hiding them, and temporarily changing WU settings to manual. I hope that GWX Control Panel will now allow me to keep W7 without having to jump through too many hoops. W7 does everything I want - I'm prepared to move to W10 when I have to buy my next PC, but have no need to do that yet.

Living in rural France and having to rely on a satellite broadband connection with download data capped at around 8.5 GB per month, a huge download like W10 is a real pain. I know that many light satellite users over here have data download capped at around 3.3 GB, so you can imagine what problems these W10 upgrades are causing for them!!!!!

Richard Wardell said...

Thanks for the help!

Tippy said...

Thank you very much for creating this program!! I am a 72 yr old who is not very computer savvy. I have dl'd GWX Control Panel and it is working for me. The only glitch I have is also the one Wil deGast (above) has:

'Everytime I restart my computer, GWX reports that "Are Windows Update OS upgrades enabled" are set to Yes, even though I have repeatedly selected the "Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update". Whenever I select this, GWX requests an restartm which I do. Upon that restart, GWX shows "Are Windows UPdate OS upgrades enabled?" as No, but upon the next startup of my PC, it's reset to Yes.'

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Tippy - This is a real problem (with Windows, not with my program) that I am going to begin addressing in the next update. Microsoft has recently (within the past couple of weeks) pushed down some changes that actively reset some of the settings that protect you from Windows 10. I don't know all of the culprits yet, but the next release of GWX Control Panel will deal with some of them at least.

femalekryptonite said...

Hi, and thanks a lot for the effort you put into your site. I have been looking for a while now for some sort of updated blacklist of updates that will trigger the upgrade. I went through a rough few days getting my machine back to 8.1 after a bad upgrade experience due to some software combinations I need to use that just aren't ready for Win10. I'm hoping this will be preventative for future ambiguous updates that might trap me. If you do keep a list of the KB's that are related to the upgrade or know where I could find one I'd appreciate it. Thanks again.

Gary Bastoky said...

When I need to run Windows 7, I run it from VMWare Fusion on my Mac (10.10.5). I don't want to upgrade to Windows 10, but my VM, when I launch it from Fusion, is set to automatically update. Is there a way, during the boot process or soon afterwards, to stop this so I can change the setting to not automatically install updates and launch Win 7 instead, so I can install your app? This auto-install of Windows 10 could be a real problem because in order to run Windows 10, if I actually wanted to, I would have to upgrade my current version of Fusion first.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@femalekryptonite - I've tried to take an approach of not trying to keep up with which Microsoft patch is doing what, but instead just take care of specific OS symptoms/behaviors as they arise. That might not be sustainable if Microsoft gets even more aggressive with their strong-arming, but at the moment I do not really know which updates need to be avoided other than the notorious KB3035583. This might change in future, though.

@Gary B - When you say the VM is set to automatically update, do you mean that your Windows image is claiming that it's about to upgrade you to Windows 10, or just that Windows Update is configured for automatic updates? If it's the latter, you should be able to just go to your Windows Update control panel as soon as you log in and then click Change Settings, and then specify how you want Windows Update to behave. If it's an imminent Windows 10 upgrade you're talking about, you SHOULD be able to run GWX Control Panel as soon as you log in, use "disable os upgrades in windows update" and then restart the VM as instructed.

Huwyngr said...

I've just installed the 1.6.0.1 GWX Control Panel on my Windows 7 32 bit machine since I do support on CompuServe and for Norton Security and want to keep this version active (I have other versions multibooted and I have a hybrid laptop/tablet running 8.1 that I will let go to 10 shortly)

It's not clear to me from your wording whether: << The Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update feature puts the correct settings in place to keep your control panel from being hijacked by the Windows 10 Upgrade, and that alone (followed by a Windows restart) should be enough for most people. Sometimes, however, the Windows Update subsystem needs to be refreshed in order to display the correct updates, so that's what Clear Windows Update Cache is for. >> means that Windows 7 will stop getting it's normal Windows 7 updates or not. I have this set to "Notify but don't download or install".

If this is disabled, will I still be notified about Windows 7 related updates and can then pull them down when ready or does it block all Windows updates?

TIA

Hugh

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Huwyngr - Hmm, I wish I knew a better way to word that stuff; I do understand how it can be unclear. Anyway, "Disable OS Upgrades in Windows Update" does not disable the Windows Update feature at all. It simply puts some Windows settings in place that instruct Windows Update not to allow Windows 10 to hijack your control panel or accidentally upgrade you to Windows 10 via Windows Update.

Using that feature of GWX Control Panel will not alter your "notify but don't download or install" setting; all that will continue to work normally.

SSD said...

Thank you for helping us defeat MS Bullying.
When the updates are disabled, are we also disabling 'legitimate' Win 7 updates too?
If so I do we go back to 'normal' ie Pre WX?

Ultimate Outsider said...

@SSD - The "Disable OS Upgrades" feature doesn't disable your Windows Updates. It just puts some settings in place so that Microsoft doesn't hijack your Windows Update control panel with Windows 10 stuff. I need to come up with some better wording for that feature because I understand how it can seem like it means something else.

nicole anjolie said...

I apologize if I am being repetitive. I want to make sure I do this right.

I am set up Window's Update to "automatic". I checked Windows 10 however, to make it an option, then right-clicked it to eliminate it as a download altogether. Can't remember what it said but right-clicking gave the option to dismiss it. It, of course, keeps coming back. My question: now that I have downloaded your software, should I change my auto-settings for Windows Updates to "notify but do not install"? I don't want to miss the important updates.

Thank you for the software; I don't like a company taking over what should be my choice. From what I have read though, they will stop supporting all but Windows 10 in the near future so we will be forced to upgrade to 10 or dust off the old Mac's.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@nicole - The safest course of action is to use GWX Control Panel's "disable OS upgrades in windows update" feature (note, this does not disable Windows Update or change your Windows Update settings- it only tells Windows not to allow Windows 10 upgrades via the Windows Update process). And then change your Windows Update control panel settings to only download or only notify when new updates are ready. My program can prevent you from that "Upgrade to Windows 10" thing, but we don't know what else Microsoft has planned next, so it's safest right now to review which updates they want to install instead of just taking everything they push automatically.

SSD said...

I can confirm that after taking this action, whereas MS was listing a bunch of updates supposedly for Win 7, they were actually Win 10 installation files when you tried to install. I could not selectively pick Win 7 only files to upload as it would always report Wx is being installed. Infact it was doing this while I was doing something else and without my instruction. After running your prog and basically obliterating any WX files that had already loaded, the new updates (set to only notify when updates are available) began uploading for Win 7 only (at least that is my hope).

Here's my other 2 cents worth:
On another respectable Thinkpad W500 laptop machine I foolishly became convinced that I should install WX. I happened to have a second extended display connected. When this WX crap had installed it had detected a third 'ghost' display. In between the re-boots WX defaulted the display to this third ghost screen which of course did not exist, so I was looking at TWO blank screens, waiting for something to happen. Of course with no info I started to panic and did several re-boots until finally an error came up on the screen and I was able to restore to a previous point. After some time I also discovered that WX had changed my video drivers and had to re-load the original ones. Basically it totally screwed up my PC and I was able to use your prog to rid the WX crap out of my machine. At no point did the WX launch say that a second extended monitor should be disconnected. And that they were going to screw up my video drivers.

Jandi said...

Hi,

I've really got problems with windows update, when I start windows update, I get the pesky windows 10 failed to install, and I do not want it!

When I run the GWX control panel, in the box it says that "some settings related to windows 10 upgrades were detected", how do I find out what end where those settings are? That would be nice to know ;-)

Kind Regards

Jan

Mark said...

Hi,

Thanks for this great tool.

I understand that it will stop Windows Update from installing W10, but will it stop it from downloading the update files ?
That's because I don't want the 3GB of update files on my computer (I don't have a lot of space left)
If it doesn't stop it, what's the best way to do it ? (change the Windows Update parameters ?)

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Jandi - The Save Diagnostic Info feature (see the user guide/announcement post for instructions) outputs some info you can send me that tells me which settings were detected on your PC. The next version of the program will actually include this info in human-readable format.

@Mark - The "Disable OS Upgrades" feature does appear to prevent the secret background downloads from coming to your system. I've got around six test systems here that are online all the time and still have never received the Win 10 download files. The thing is, Microsoft has said they have plans to force those downloads onto more PCs in future, so it's possible they might change their tactics and do something that we can't override. I hope it doesn't come to that. You will likely always be able to use GWX Control Panel do delete the files though.

Andrea U. said...

Does your program have the option of command-line switches so that the process can be automated to periodically run and reset the options?
If it currently does not, would you please consider doing so for a future version?

Thanks!

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Andrea - That is a popular feature request, and I will probably implement something like that in the future. In order for an automatic version to work it would need admin rights (like running as a service or from a privileged admin account). It def. won't be in the next version (I am half-way finished with it) but possibly in a subsequent release.

LexBlogger said...

Great program, and so glad that you are keeping it as up to date as possible.

I have the .exe version. I also have multiple Windows 7 computers. It appears that if I do NOT use the new 'Monitor Mode' I can run the program on all my computers from a USB stick--therefore only needing to update one installation. So far it seems to work fine. Is there a problem that I might be missing doing this?


Harry

Ultimate Outsider said...

@LexBlogger - Nope, that's a perfectly valid way to do it. Even if you happened to accidentally enable Monitor Mode while running the program from a USB drive, it would just fail silently on Windows restart- so harmless all around.

arocee said...

I attempted to start monitor mode from the running standalone program, and got "Encountered error 5 attempting to change monitor mode" since the status is "Disabled, not running".

This occurred both before and after a restart with version 1.6.0.1 just downloaded today, on Windows 8.1, 32-bit.

TIA,
R

Ultimate Outsider said...

@arocee - Error 5 means insufficient privileges. Were you running the program from a limited/standard Windows user account? (GWX Control Panel isn't supposed to require admin permissions for enabling monitor mode, however I've heard a couple of reports of unexpected behavior with limited user accounts. It's something I'm going to be looking into soon.)

As a possible work-around, can you try right-clicking the GWX Control Panel icon and using "Run As Administrator" and then trying to enable monitor mode again? (Again, that's normally not required, but Error 5 means the program didn't have appropriate access to change user settings.)

arocee said...

@Josh: Thanks for the quick response! Running as admin got it going. Do I need to do that each time I start the PC? If so, could I put a shortcut for it in the Startup sub-directory, and will it "remember" the setting to run as admin?

TIA,
R

LexBlogger said...

arocee:

I know nothing about why you get this error, but if you have programs that require you to log in as an Administrator (and assuming that no one has access to your computer that you don't have confidence in), this utility, 'ElevatedShortcut for Windows 7 and Windows 8', does a great job. I have several programs that require an Administrator level to open them, and I have used this tool successively for almost 2 years. Here is the link:
http://winaero.com/comment.php?comment.news.152

Harry

Ultimate Outsider said...

@arocee - I'm not really sure what will happen for you, since it shouldn't have required admin permissions to begin with. (Then again, I still need to look into what happens for limited/standard user accounts.) Please let me know what you find!

arocee said...

No problem on 2 other PC's I have, so must be something wonky about my first one - figures ;-}

What I have done on the other 2 is just pin it to the task bar, then manually start it after Windows starts up. Since I sign on with the same non-privileged Id all the time, I hope that works to catch any new efforts by MS to re-activate it.

There are recent stories around the 'Net about a variety of ways MS is trying to stealth the upgrade into PC's - one mentions you, Josh, and your GWX tool - and it looks as though that will be a moving target. I have been in the habit of checking each patch in the list after they show up - no automatic or mass updating allowed - and if any mentions W10, or "telemetry", I hide it, and in all cases wait at least a week (sometimes months for non-security patches when I'm busy ;-} ) before applying. I hope that will catch any of the tricks MS uses.

I have tried the W10 upgrade on one PC, HP Stream 7 tablet, and did not like all the changes (yeah, I got used to the Win 8.x UI, and don't want to start a new learning curve just now - using a bunch of different Linux UI's probably prepped me for that ;-}), and it definitely seems unfinished in various ways from what I saw, and have been reading, so I rolled it back to 8.1.

I use Linux for most of my "real" PC usage anyway, so I don't deal with this often, but if it gets worse, and gets by me, I will move even more to Linux. It has its own contentious update issues sometimes (systemd being being the current major one) , but those are usually more manageable, and various distros are better than others about it, Mint being one of the latter. And then there are the BSD's...

Wanderer said...

GWX Control Panel running ok on 3 computers. On fourth (Windows 7 Home Premium) will not start. No error messages just does not start. Any prereqs? Any ideas.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Wanderer - a few ideas: The very first time you launch the program it opens an "End User License Agreement" dialog that can sometimes accidentally appear behind other windows. (I am fixing this unexpected behavior in version 1.7).

Can you try restarting Windows and launching the program manually (with no other windows open)? (Assuming this is your problem.)

Another possibility is window position coordinates... you can rule this out by using the GWX Control Panel uninstaller (found in Programs and Features) to fully remove the program, and then re-installing it. The next time you launch the program it should have fresh window coordinates in the middle of your monitor.

Finally, there are some potentially confusing situations that can occur if you are running GWX Control Panel from a Standard or Child account (versus an Administrator account). I'm including some notes about this from the version 1.7 release notes in case this applies:

GWX Control Panel enables/disables Monitor Mode under the account that's currently used to run the application. This can result in unexpected behavior for users with Standard or Child accounts in Windows, because there are some cases where GWX Control Panel actually operates under a local administrator's account, meaning any changes users make affect the administrator account instead of the currently logged-in user. Known cases:

If you agree to launch GWX Control Panel immediately after installation (if you let the final page of the installer to launch the program), GWX Control Panel is still running under the Administrator account.

If you use one of the GWX Control Panel features that make system-wide settings changes, the program requests an administrator password, and anything else you do in that running instance GWX Control Panel occurs under the admin account.
If the Standard/Child account user uses "Run As Administrator" to launch GWX Control Panel, all actions in the program affect the admin account, not the current user.

Basically any time you have to enter a password in order to use GWX Control Panel, it means changing Monitor Mode settings won't affect your current user account.
The above behavior also affects the "Save Diagnostic Info" reports that you can access from the pop-up menus of both Monitor Mode and the main GWX Control Panel window. If you generate a report to send to me, please make sure to run GWX Control Panel normally (not as admin) before saving the report.

Wanderer said...

Restarting Windows has no effect. Neither the installer version nor the stand alone version will run. Windows tries to start the program but never does. No log but I can see Avast reacting to the start command. Removed antivirus but no change. Account is an administrator. "Run as administrator" has no effect, same behavior. System is Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 32-bit and is up to date as of 12/23/2015 except for Windows 10 nag and stealth "fixes".

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Wanderer - Crazy stuff, man. The UI portion of GWX Control Panel is completely basic, standard MFC code that should run on any Windows computer from Vista on. I don't have any idea what's going in on your case, sadly. V 1.7 will be posted soon; perhaps give that a shot?

Baylink said...

FYI: I had a client who was at

"Your upgrade to Windows 10 is ready".

1.6.0.1 did indeed fix that problem. Win 7 Pro.

Ron Krzmarzick said...

Great job with GWX Control Panel! So frustrated with the W10 push, especially since I support 5 laptops and worry someone will accidentally click the upgrade button. Read many blogs/solutions etc, very messy and maintenance headache. Saw your product, downloaded v 1.7.0.1, liked it, and have now installed on 3 laptops with great success. Did all options but the 'delete Windows 10 programs' option because not sure if deleting them destroys chance for eventual W10 upgrade.

Kudos, and goodbye MS insidious nag,nag,nag.

Thank you and will donate if no nags for a week.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Ron - The Delete Windows 10 Programs feature will not prevent you from being able to upgrade to Windows 10, but in order to perform the upgrade you'll need to use Microsoft's free Media Creation Tool to download Windows 10 instead of the GWX/GWXUX method that GWX Control Panel takes care of.

You can alternatively manually uninstall/reinstall the KB3035583 (or wait for Microsoft to re-push it again) to restore the GWX/GWXUS method.

David Simpson said...

I was manually uninstalling KB3035583 and then waiting for it to get on the list to be d/l again & right clicking on it & choosing 'Hide' but I found that was not a final solution.
On top of that, when I had users who had Win7 Home PC's & their OS does not come with GPEDIT. So I looked at installing it - Then a friend pointed me to your tool.

Brilliant! Thanks very much!
I've used it on several different users PCs since 26 Dec 15 & it's great. :)
I will be sending you a modest Paypal contribution as well, but I thought to drop you this note in appreciation.
I too don't receive payment for the support I provide so I'm sorry my payment won't be large but it is sent with heartfelt thanks.
Best regards,
DAve - www.melbpc.org.au iHelp Team

Ultimate Outsider said...

@David - Thanks so much! Also, you'll be happy to know that the very latest version (just posted this evening) deletes all the files and scheduled tasks that KB3035583 installs, so even if the update sneaks on to your system, you can now delete it with a single click!

WoodGutsFactory said...

Thank you for creating this tool! My computer is almost clean , but the GWX control panel tells me to find here what does it mean when " Error 31 attempting to launch your browswr" ?

Eija Pii

Thwap nln said...

Hi, I have successfully installed and ran GWX Control Panel on my Win 7 box.. No issues, all is fine. Thanks for this!

In an effort to be pre-emptive, I installed GWX Control Panel on my Vista Ultimate 32bit box. Installation went perfectly without a hitch. Any attempt to run GWX Control Panel results in this error message in a pop up window:

GWX_control_panel.exe - Entry Point Not Found

The procedure entry point K32GetModuleBaseNameW could not be located in the dynamic link library KERNEL32.dll

Clicking OK to close the window brings this up:

GWX Control Panel - Closes and configures the 'Get Windows 10' system tray application. has stopped working.

Options given are Check online for a solution and close the program

Or,

Close the program

Below that is "show problem details" - which contains the following information when shown:

Problem signature:
Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
Application Name: GWX_control_panel.exe
Application Version: 1.7.0.2
Application Timestamp: 5684ae8e
Fault Module Name: KERNEL32.dll!K32GetModuleBaseNameW
Fault Module Version: 6.0.6002.18005
Fault Module Timestamp: 49e03821
Exception Code: c0000139
Exception Offset: 00009eed
OS Version: 6.0.6002.2.2.0.256.1
Locale ID: 1033
Additional Information 1: 9d13
Additional Information 2: 1abee00edb3fc1158f9ad6f44f0f6be8
Additional Information 3: 9d13
Additional Information 4: 1abee00edb3fc1158f9ad6f44f0f6be8

Read our privacy statement:
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=50163&clcid=0x0409


I hope this helps! If you can tell me what the problem is, I'd be grateful! Thanks again for all your hard work!

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Thwap nlm - I've never run the program on Vista before (obviously!)- the crash you're seeing is because my program's trying to use at least one Windows API function that is not available on Vista. I could code it to "elegantly fail" on Vista rather than crashing, I suppose, but there really is no value in it.

Windows 10 can't upgrade from Vista, and Vista shouldn't be targeted by any of the Windows 10 annoyances that Win 7 and Win 8.1 have to deal with, so my program doesn't serve a purpose there. I'd recommend just using the uninstaller.

I wondered whether it would run on Vista though, and I guess you've answered that!

Strangenews Strangenews said...

Hello, You give no details on upgrading your GWX Control Panel. I installed 1.6 and it is running. Should I turn off monitor mode or enable Operating System upgrades in Windows Update before I uninstall it? Should I install 1.7 over the top of 1.6? I want to use the standalone of 1.7 after uninstalling 1.6.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Strangenews - If you want to switch from the installed version from standalone, yes, you should use the uninstaller. That will disable monitor mode implicitly. (Otherwise, if you use the 1.7 installer, it automatically upgrades your existing version and you don't have to do anything than just run the setup as long as you're the only user currently logged in.) The "Downloading and installing gwx control panel" section of the user guide has some more advice.

Strangenews Strangenews said...

Thank you very much for responding so quickly. Your software indicates that none of the components for Windows 10 have been downloaded. It also reports the size of the Windows 10 download folder is not found, when in fact my own research shows there is a KB 2952664 folder located in C:\Windows\System32\catroot. These are software distribution packages, each containing hundreds of folders with thousands of files well over 12 GB. I cannot delete or rename this folder manually even after claiming ownership nor can Windows disk cleanup remove them, even when run in administrative mode. Could you elaborate on what these folders are doing on my hard drive and why your software doesn't see them........ Many thanks for your software and your advice.

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Strangenews - Since the KB2952664 patch doesn't include any visible Windows 10 symptoms/behavior, it fell outside of GWX Control Panel's initial scope. (I allude to this in the "What it doesn't do" section of the user guide.) HOWEVER: I am starting work on the next major update for GWX Control Panel soon, though, and targeting KB2952664 (and its Windows 8 equivalent) is one of the primary new features.

LexBlogger said...

Strangenews indicated that his ....System32\catroot folder, which I had never looked at before, contained a KB 2952664 folder. I don't see any reference to any specific KB numbers in mine, but one of it's subdirectories (named with a whole series of letters and numbers) contains 2,254 'Packages' totaling 53 MB. These are of the 'Security Catalog' type, and have dates from 2009 (years before I had this computer built) through 12/30/2015.

I looked up 'Security Catalog' on the Microsoft site, but that told me nothing that I could understand.

What do these files do and can they, or should they, be removed?

Harry

Ultimate Outsider said...

@LexBlogger - I am not aware of any public information that truly describes what all those files do. Through experimentation and analysis some folks around the world have observed behaviors such as the ability to intercept anything typed into a text control (although only Microsoft knows what ultimately happens with that information).

KB2952664 and its Win 8.1 equivalent are like KB3035583 in that Microsoft constantly re-issues new versions of the patch under the same name. It has indeed been around for several years. Previous versions helped Microsoft collect data they used to guide users to Windows 8 and current versions obviously focus on getting people to Windows 10 (but it's more about data collection/analysis than actually interacting with users).

LexBlogger said...

Ultimate Outsider:

Thanks for the prompt feedback. If someone with your knowledge is not clear what happens with the data, and since these files only take up 53MB on my hard drive, I'll just leave them alone.

Harry

Sandie said...

I belong to an embroidery Yahoo group, where GWX Control panel was recommended. I have a laptop running Windows Vista, and an embroidery software package, which I know does not run on more recent versions. So I keep this laptop just for that program. However when I try to install GWX I keep getting messages that tell me that the "procedure entry point could not be located in the dynamic link library".
Should this program work with Vista, or not? Thanks

LexBlogger said...

Sandie:

As I understand it, Microsoft does not attempt to install Windows 10 on Vista computers (same for XP), so there is no GWX Control for these operating systems.

Somewhere on these threads Ultimate Outsider posted information to that effect.

Harry

Felix said...

I have your GWX Control Panel downloaded. My problem is that I cannot find the button for diaabling OS Upgrades. Where is it? I have version 1.7 and Windows 7. I am new to computers.

Mark Lester Mac said...

I just want to say my deepest thanks, for making this free software to the tech world; especially to those folks like me that just don't have the capacity to pay such an enormously great software, that is more than worthy of becoming a paid one. THANK YOU!!…

SSD said...

I also want to express my thanks for saving my computers from a MS Hack Attack. That's all Win 10 is. If you are using Win 7 and everything is working just fine, LEAVE IT BE! Even after they stop supporting Win 7 it will be good for another few years, just like XP didn't exactly explode. It was just fine. This is all more about how MS Exploits people and invades their working system so that they can screw more dollars out of you. GWX Control saved tons of hassle!

Faye Doherty said...

Today MS tried to force me to install WX on both my 8.1 touch laptop and desktop pc. I installed your latest standalone and got the all clear reports on both. The laptop now launches as runs faster than it has for months - many thanks.
The desktop had actually started the installation countdown clock, and after restarting the desktop an update started to download and is now stuck on the blue screen stating "working on updates, 30% complete, don't turn off your computer" this has not changed in 2 hours.
What do you advise me to do now?

Nancy Tooney said...

At the suggestion of a friend,I just installed on my desktop that runs on Windows 7 your software that blocks Windows 10 installation. Many thanks!

I have a friend whose computer runs on Windows Vista and she gets the same nagging about installing Windows 10. Will your software work on Windows Vista?

Ultimate Outsider said...

@Nancy - Vista is not supposed to be getting notifications about Windows 10. The currently-posted version of my program DOES run on Vista, but I do not know how effective it would be- only because it's not supposed to be necessary on that operating system.

One thing though- if your friend only sees these Windows 10 ads inside her internet browser, it's probably because she's visiting MSN.com or some other Microsoft-owned site, and those are ads delivered by Microsoft's web servers into your browser. I can't control what happens inside your browser- only what happens on your desktop and your Windows system settings. The workaround for this is to just avoid MSN and other Microsoft web sites. Although an ad blocker browser add-on MIGHT help.