Lawsuit Says Microsoft Knew Windows 10 ‘Potentially Harmful’



Disgruntled Windows 10 users are taking Microsoft to court, alleging problems caused by the operating system’s upgrade demonstrate it was negligently designed, that Microsoft fraudulently failed to disclose its defects, and the upgrade is unfit for purpose – just the latest scandal to engulf the controversial operating system.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 launch in July 2015, was notorious within and without the tech sphere for a number of reasons. In a break from tradition, the tech giant offered users an opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, which was initially welcomed — however the firm’s promotional tactics were widely criticized, with many users reported the ostensible upgrade was forced upon them, installing automatically.

Such was the obloquy surrounding this approach, Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela publicly acknowledged the firm had gone “too far,” and their “aggressive” push to get users to upgrade had crossed the line. Windows 10 now operates on around 400 million devices worldwide.

In this particular suit, brought at an Illinois court in the US, the plaintiffs state Windows 10 destroyed their hard drives and/or caused them to lose data, forcing them to buy a new computer or pay for repairs.

The suit states the claimants are among “many” consumers who have had hard drives fail due to the installation, and the operating system does not check whether a device’s software or hardware could withstand “the stress” of an installation.

These problems are, the suit states, so endemic and widespread they show Windows 10 breached its implied warranty of merchantability, and there should have been greater warnings that the update could damage PCs or data and prompts for users to create backups. It further alleges Microsoft was negligent, failing to “exercise reasonable care” in designing, formulating, and manufacturing the upgrade, and the firm knew Windows 10 had “potentially harmful propensities.”

The plaintiffs are claimed to be but three among hundreds or thousands of others who have suffered in the same way, and incurred similar costs. They are pursuing US$5 million in damages.

In a statement, Microsoft said if a customer who upgraded during the one-year program needed “help” with the upgrade experience, the company offered them numerous options, including free customer support and 31 days to revert to their old operating system.

“We believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit,” the Microsoft statement said.

Beyond complaints about automatic upgrades and forceful promotional tactics, Windows 10 has also been condemned for its approach to data collection.

Early adopters expressed concerns about the use of default settings to harvest voluminous amounts of user data, such as web browsing history, Wi-Fi network names and passwords, in order to display personalized adverts to users browsing the web or playing games.

While users were given the ability to opt-out of data collection, the process for doing so was believed by many to be complex and opaque, comprising 45 pages of privacy policy documents, with opt-out settings spread across 13 different screens and housed on an external website.

In response, the EU data protection group, the Article 29 Working Party, instigated an investigation, as did several national data protection authorities, including France’s independent regulatory data privacy body, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertes (CNIL). Their independent conclusions were much the same — the company must stop excessive data collection.

Among the breaches CNIL accused Microsoft of were the failure to obtain notice for data transfers, breaking cookie law requirements, having inadequate security protections for personal data, failure to file an authorization request for processing personal data for fraud prevention purposes, and breach of cross-border data transfer restrictions.

In February, the Article 29 Working Party issued a statement saying it still had “significant concerns” about how Microsoft collects and processes users’ personal data, and whether it obtains fully informed consent from users to do so.

“There is an apparent lack of control for users to prevent collection or further processing of such data. The Working Party specifically requests further explanatory information from Microsoft, as to how the opt-outs, default settings and other available control mechanisms presented during the installation of Windows 10 operating system provide a valid legal basis for the processing of personal data under the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. This is especially of concern where Microsoft would rely on consent as a legal basis for the processing of personal data,” the statement said.

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  1. GPD: Without falling into a commercial. Can you mention a lawyer or a firm specialized in claims regarding the issue you describe?

  2. I recently bought a new laptop with Win10 pre-installed. Played with it one day, noticed the massive background activity all the while and after my personal customization was totally smashed after the first automated update, I smashed Win10 and – as I already was for a long time – I’m now a happy user of a modern laptop with a secure Unix installed.
    Everything works fine and is at my hand, not at the hand of NSA gangsters like that ugly spook Bill Gates.

  3. I once read a comment from a former Microshaft worker who labeled the people there as cubical crawling megalomaniacs. After working there for nine years he left, saying it was the best decision of his life.(Maybe he’s still single).
    My ASUS computer has been acting up for the past seven or eight months and even my tech can’t figure what’s wrong.
    The entire philosophy of Microshaft is based on that evil cork sniffing Bill Gates personal philosophy…..”I know what’s best for you, yadda, yadda.” Communist Core, gardisil vaccines for everyone, typical neo liberal.
    Just waiting for Russia to develop their own microprocessors and operating systems that have no back doors and extensively block the federal snoopers.

    • My earlier computer had XP with no problems. My three year old ASUS M11BB with AMD processor and Windblows 7 has numerous problems. Did Microshaft sabotage my hard drive? wouldn’t put it past the Mofos!
      I just upgraded the memory to a full 16 GB and still have problems.

    • XP was well balanced, i suppose. The new OSystems are not friendly for me – the interface looking like Android cellular phone, tons of crazy widgets, advertisement – doesn’t make me pleased. Internet is commercial 100%, hackers can open any PC (thanks God, i’m not interesting for ’em). Crazy digital century 🙂
      I remember Win 3.11 and e-mail via dial-up in DoS (1997) on my Toshiba with a track ball 🙂

    • I’m running an old machine with XP installed so I can read and use old files – it is NOT connected to the internet.
      My other computers run Linux and have no components made by Intel or AMD.

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