As of 01 February 2016, Windows 10's status as an update on Windows 7 and 8.1 systems changes from Optional to Recommended and there is one setting in Windows Update on both systems you need to change to make sure you do not get upgraded before you are ready.
It was last fall when Terry Myerson, Microsoft's Executive VP for the Windows and Devices Group, laid out details about controlling the Windows 10 upgrade.
Shortly after his blog post the Windows 10 Upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 became an optional update in Windows Update in order to make it easier to find the upgrade. This occurred because they were ending the reservation process that had been in place since before the OS's release on 29 July 2015.
At that same time he informed readers that the Windows 10 Upgrade would have its status changed from Optional to Recommended early in 2016 and that date was 01 February.
So what does this change mean for you?
First, it does not mean you do not get a choice about upgrading to Windows 10. Even if you happen to download the Recommended update you will still have the option to refuse the upgrade as it prepares to install on your system. Plus the 30 day window for reverting back to your previous version of Windows will still be available if you decide to go ahead with the upgrade and try it out. If Windows 10 is not your cup of tea then just revert back using the tools in Windows 10.
Second, Recommended updates are not installed on Windows 7 and 8.1 by default unless you make a change in your Windows Update settings to install them alongside of Important updates.
If you want to verify your Windows Update settings to prevent the Windows 10 upgrade from installing then you will want to make sure that option is turned off.
Here is how you do that.
1. Open up Windows Update. From the main screen you will see several options listed on the left side. Click on Change settings.
2. Below Recommended updates make sure the selection box is unchecked. This will prevent Recommended updates from installing along side of Important updates. Click OK to apply the settings. You can now close out of Windows Update.
In Windows 8.1 there are two places you can turn off the option for installing Recommended updates setting - in Windows Update settings on the desktop or in PC Settings on the Modern side. This setting will be set across the OS whether you change the setting on the desktop or modern side of the OS.
1. In the Windows Update settings on the desktop the setting is in the same place as it is on Windows 7. Just open up Windows Update, click on Change settings on the left side and then make sure the box under Recommended updates is not checked and the click OK at the bottom of the dialog box.
2. In the modern PC Settings app go to PC settings > Update and recovery > Windows update and select Choose how updates get installed.
3. Make sure that the Recommended updates box is unchecked and the click Apply. You can go ahead and close out the PC Settings app now.
Although the Windows 10 upgrade will still appear in Windows Update on Windows 7 or 8.1 it will not automatically install with this setting turned off.