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Microsoft sued for $10,000 after an unwanted and unauthorized Update

According to the Seattle Times, a small business owner from California has successfully sued Microsoft for $10,000 in "compensation for lost wages and the cost of a new computer" after an unwanted and unauthorized update allegedly left her primary work PC slow, crash-prone and unusable.

A few days after Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public last year, Teri Goldstein’s computer started trying to download and install the new operating system.

The update, which she says she didn’t authorize, failed. Instead, the computer she uses to run her Sausalito, Calif., travel-agency business slowed to a crawl. It would crash, she says, and be unusable for days at a time.

"I had never heard of Windows 10," Sausalito-based travel agent Teri Goldstein told the Seattle Times. "Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update."

When outreach to Microsoft’s customer support didn’t fix the issue, Goldstein took the software giant to court, seeking compensation for lost wages and the cost of a new computer.

She won. Last month, Microsoft dropped an appeal and Goldstein collected a $10,000 judgment from the company.
The company denies wrongdoing, and a spokeswoman said Microsoft halted its appeal to avoid the expense of further litigation.

Goldstein’s experience is an extreme example of the consequences of Microsoft’s aggressive campaign to get people to use Windows 10, the newest version of the ubiquitous personal-computer operating system.

Released in July 2015, Windows 10 is free to most users of older Microsoft operating systems. That offer expires July 29.

Microsoft says it offers users a choice to update, not a requirement. People have to acknowledge a dialogue box before the installation, and agree to a license agreement afterward, to receive Windows 10, the company says.

Those who don’t like the new software have 31 days afterward to roll back to their previous version, the company says, and free customer support is available to those who run into trouble.

“We’re continuing to listen to customer feedback and evolve the upgrade experience based on their feedback,” Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft says most users would be better served by Windows 10, which is more secure than its predecessors, including the 6-year-old Windows 7. Security experts tend to agree.

But some Microsoft watchers say the company isn’t offering users a transparent or easy choice in the matter. Absent from Microsoft’s series of upgrade prompts is an obvious “no thanks” or “never update” button.

Mary Jo Foley, a journalist who has closely followed Microsoft for decades, wrote recently that the company has made saying no to Windows 10, particularly for nontech-savvy people, “nearly impossible to implement.”

Paul Thurrott, another longtime Microsoft follower, criticized a recent pop-up asking users if they were ready to get Windows 10.

While Goldstein appears to be the first user to get an actual monetary award, Windows 7/8 users have been complaining about the update process for nearly as long as the new version has been available. Earlier this year, Microsoft changed the update from "optional" to "recommended" and, perhaps most egregiously, the company also switched the behavior of the ubiquitous red X button so that it actually accepted the upgrade rather than canceling it. 

For their part, Redmond denied any wrongdoing in the Goldstein case and has offered a new tutorial for disabling the update notifications, although there's still a chance that doing nothing at all will result in an unwanted update that has already been scheduled without the user opting in.

For others who might be looking for a handout from Microsoft, or just some compensation for their upgrade headaches, it is unclear if the case could lead to more lawsuits. The Seattle Times also reports that Microsoft was planning to appeal the Goldstein ruling, but dropped the case to avoid even more court costs. So, it seems unlikely that the company would continue to put itself at risk of more litigation, even if it does have an ambitious goal of 1 billion Windows 10 users to reach. 

On the other hand, a lawsuit involving a similarly "optional" operating system update for PlayStation 3 consoles recently ended in a class action settlement and potentially millions of dollars in damages on Sony's part. So, if anything, tech savvy lawyers could have a field day with this one.

 source: Seattle Times,

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