Windows 10 is popping up a very unfortunate full-screen offer during setup of a fresh copy of the OS that is preventing users from reaching the desktop.
The pop-up panel promotes a free trial for Microsoft 365 – but one that’ll turn into a paying subscription if not canceled – and there appears to be a bug that means if you click to decline the trial, you’ll actually accept it.
As Bleeping Computer reports, the so-called ‘nag screen’ (entitled: ‘We’re giving you a free trial of Microsoft 365 Family’) appears on first booting Windows 10, and there’s no way to get around it – the button to ‘skip for now’ normally present has been changed to a ‘privacy and cookies’ link.
With skipping the process out of the picture, users are then faced with two main options: ‘Try for free’ and ‘No thanks’.
The kicker is that if you click on the ‘No’ option, you get sent to a screen asking you to ‘Confirm your payment option’ and then only have a choice to start the trial and ‘Buy later’. In other words, you’re asked to enter a valid set of card details, and payment will be taken to continue your Microsoft 365 subscription after the trial period has ended.
The problem was highlighted on Reddit with an illustrative photo of what happened to a user on first booting a laptop: “Windows 10 preventing me from booting into desktop without first non-consensually being forced to accept their free trial and $100 monthly thereafter (obviously I cancelled after but WTF Microsoft).”
Microsoft 365, for the uninitiated, is the new name for the company’s leading office software suite, which used to be known as Office 365.
Analysis: This needs to be sorted out pronto
What appears to have occurred here is a simple – but very nasty – error where the functions of the respective buttons have been swapped, so the ‘No’ option is actually registered as ‘Yes’ and presumably vice versa. So to get out of the offer screen and onto the desktop, rather than skipping – a choice which really should be present – accepting the offer should decline it, as it were.
Not something you’re likely to think of if you haven’t read this article, of course, and it’s a very confusing situation all-round as to how such a fundamental error has crept into the first-boot sequence for Windows 10.
As the Redditor who spotted this points out, you can always immediately cancel the subscription so it doesn’t renew. Our concern is for less tech-savvy users who may not have read the details of the offer and might not realize that they are subscribed for an auto-renewal, and thus could get a shock when money starts coming out down the line (for what is called a free trial upfront, of course).
Okay, so you could argue that anyone providing their credit card details without really knowing what for or looking closely at terms (the user is actually informed about the auto-renewal) deserves what they get, but that’s hardly the point here. This shouldn’t be happening at all, and in the end, it’s more vulnerable people who are likely to be the ones left out of pocket at the hands of this bug. Microsoft will hopefully be on the case soon enough to sort this one out, bearing all this in mind.
Until then, it may just be the case that yes is no, and no is yes, when it comes to the Microsoft 365 trial. Or alternatively, as others have suggested on Reddit, setting up the new PC without being connected to the internet avoids the nag screen popping up in the first place, but again, this isn’t something the less technically inclined users out there will likely consider.
For those who really do want a freebie office suite, or indeed a paid alternative to Microsoft 365, we’ve got a roundup of all the best non-Microsoft office software out there.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).