Microsoft may have offered Windows 7 and Windows 8 users free upgrades to its latest OS during the Windows 10 promotional campaign, but even the company itself admits that its aggressive tactics went too far. Now, following complaints from a consumer rights group, the Redmond firm has pledged never to do it again – but that may only apply in Germany.
In 2015, some users complained that Windows 10 was downloading and installing itself on their PCs without permission. Naturally, this annoyed a lot of people, especially the Consumer Center in Baden-Württemberg, which filed a lawsuit against Microsoft over the practice.
18 months later, the company has agreed to a cease-and-desist order, promising that it will “not download install files for new operating systems to a user system’s hard disk without a user’s consent.”
Cornelia Tausch, Consumer Center’s CEO, called the decision “a success for consumer rights in the digital world,”
Whether Microsoft will honor its promise outside of Germany remains to be seen, but given the massive backlash it faced from the forced upgrades, it’s hard to imagine the company making the same mistakes again.
In its aim to get Windows 10 onto 1 billion devices, Microsoft made it a ‘Recommended Update’ in February last year, rather than an optional one. Popups advising users to switch to the newer OS plagued systems and even appeared during a live weather report. But the worst part was when Microsoft used malware-like tactics by changing the function of the corner ‘x’ in one popup; instead of canceling and closing the dialog box, it acted as consent to the upgrade - a move Microsoft later admitted it regretted.