In the last few weeks, three different clients awoke to find that their computers had “upgraded” to Windows 10 overnight. One decided he liked it, one accepted it and one did what I advise: She looked at the required legal screen asking “accept” or “reject” and chose reject.

It took her back to the perfectly-happy version of Windows 7 she liked.

This is happening more and more because Microsoft has changed the definition of the Win10 upgrade to “recommended,” so if your automatic updates settings accept “recommended,” you’re going to get it. Even if you keep ignoring that little icon down by the clock that bugs you to upgrade.

Now if you’re one of the unlucky ones who got a computer loaded with the steaming pile of code that was Windows 8, it might be time to go ahead. First, go out and get an external hard drive and copy everything you prize, like documents and photos (which is a good idea, anyway). Then take the plunge.

If you’re perfectly happy with Windows 7, and know that it will be supported by Microsoft until February of 2020, how do you get it to shut off the update? This will be an increasing drumbeat, since the free upgrade period ends July 29.

A Past Blast

Enter Never10, a small program from Steve Gibson. Back in the days when hard drives were small, slow, expensive and needed plenty of optimizing, he created a product called Spinrite that did that. Like many from that era, he had seemed to fade away; indeed, checking the webpage for Gibson Research revealed many products still being mentioned that were written in 2004. So, it was some surprise to see him reappear.

Never10 is simplicity itself: It uses Microsoft’s documented changes to the Windows registry (the hidden part of Windows that controls much of its actions) to tell it not to upgrade or change the version of Windows itself. It does not shut off other upgrades. Indeed, it first checks that the current version of the Windows Upgrade tool is up-to-date and has a link to update it if necessary. By changing two lines in the registry, it’s done. There is also an option to change things back if you so desire later. Simple, sweet and effective. And free.

Download it from www.grc.com/never10.htm or Google “Never10” for a link. Highly recommended.

Poor LinkedIn

As I write this, the news is just days old that Microsoft has acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion — its largest purchase yet. Not contemplating the question of “how did it get all that money?” (think overpriced upgrades, folks), one has to wonder what it thought it was getting for that kind of money.

Microsoft (MS) has not been known for the sterling results of much of its purchases: think eQuantive, an online advertising firm it bought for $6 billion. If your reaction is “Who?” that would be about right. Most of its value was written off even before the online-advertising crash of recent years. Think also of Nokia phones for $9.4 billion in 2014. Its latest version, released in December, has some stunningly bad reviews on websites that are trying to sell it — not good.

Anyway, what is MS trying to get by buying LinkedIn? It wants your information. It wants to know where you’ve worked, where you went to college, who your professional colleagues and friends are. If you’re a recruiter, an employer or a job-seeker using the résumé service, it wants to plunge into your profile for any nuggets. That, nowadays, is where it finds gold.

Microsoft’s CEO showed a slide to a group of investors that highlighted this. A woman using Cortana, MS’s digital assistant, looks up someone for an upcoming meeting whom she is about to meet for the first time. It tells her of mutual acquaintances and even notes that he went to the same college she did, and offers to serve up his LinkedIn profile for her scrutiny. Can it do this? Certainly; all the information is out there and available for all to see; whether MS can successfully integrate this is open to question.

Microsoft also has been trying very hard to change its direction from a software company where you buy a product once every few years to a subscription-based cloud model: think Office 365, instead of the traditional Office CD you install. Think also of LinkedIn premium services. Part of this is MS’s failure to buy or create its own social media presence; it tried to buy Facebook several times, offering $15 billion for a small slice in 2007 with the option of more slices every year. That didn’t work.

Also, MS recognized that any success with online advertising would only come with a robust community already in place to sell to; just blanketing sites with banners and pop-ups makes you despised, which is not a good tactic when you’re shooting for click-throughs.

This is just one more example, if you needed one, of how what you put out there is fodder for mining for commercial purposes. Be careful.

Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing and does PC troubleshooting and network setups for small companies, when not scrubbing his profile. He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at cliff@feldwick.com. Older columns are online at http://feldwick.com.