Windows 10 for Small Business – auto upgrade or not ?

Many smaller businesses don’t have enterprise versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed, or lack Windows volume license agreements. This means your staff are probably using Pro versions of those operating systems, which, in turn, means they are seeing the new “get your free upgrade to Windows 10″ button. Do you really want your business getting this free-for-one-year upgrade without approval?

Depending on your office policy, you might be quite happy with knowledge workers upgrading and trying out the latest features, including Cortana voice assistant, the new Edge browser and an improved user interface. However, if your business runs some bespoke or very old applications, they might not be compatible with Windows 10, so you will want to make sure that everything works on a test system first.

Either way, depending on your company policies, you probably don’t want all staff upgrading on their own initiative. Fortunately, part of Microsoft’s June roll out of patches and bug fixes includes a way to stop them seeing this feature. You can read about the required patch and solution in Microsoft’s Knowledge Base (

Once installed, there is a simple registry setting you need to make for each machine, or if you have network controls, you can make a group policy setting change; both are highlighted below.

To make the registry change, Set HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\OSUpgrade\ReservationsAllowed to 0

For the policy change, navigate to: Computer Configuration, Policies, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Update. Double-click on “Turn off the upgrade to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update” and adjust the option to “Enabled”. That should prevent your users seeing the Windows Update feature and prevent them accidentally or enthusiastically updating ahead of time.

While the new version of Windows 10 is pretty much compatible with everything your business now uses on Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can’t be too careful when it comes to users getting ahead of themselves. There is also the risk of the upgrade going wrong, or high demand putting their machines out of action for a long time, so be very careful what your staff are doing when it comes to July 29th. Or call your IT Services provider and let them help your decisions and processes.

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