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Microsoft Windows Operating Systems The Courts Upgrades

Woman Wins $10,000 Lawsuit Against Microsoft Over Windows 10 Upgrades (seattletimes.com) 443

An anonymous reader shares this story from the Seattle Times: 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, California, 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," Goldstein said. "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.

Microsoft denies any wrongdoing, and says they only halted their appeal to avoid the cost of further litigation.
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Woman Wins $10,000 Lawsuit Against Microsoft Over Windows 10 Upgrades

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  • Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @07:42AM (#52397747) Journal

    My guess is now a lot of people are going to be suing MS over this. While they deny they did any wrong doing, the court saw it otherwise.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My guess is that MS will just roll out a quick update, with a revised EULA.

      • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:24AM (#52397913)
        The thing is the EULA you accepted for Windows 8/7/95 etc does not apply to Windows 10. If they shove Windows 10 down your throat it really doesn't matter what the Windows 10 EULA is when you click decline and it fucks up your computer when "uninstalling".
        • Automatic updates and upgrades might or might not be part of a previous EULA.

          • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:59AM (#52398097)
            You cannot agree to have your computer fucked up in an automatic update in an EULA. It seems like the judge agreed.
            • But you can be made to agree that your PC has to be kept up to date automatically, if only to allow for fast distribution of security fixes that only need to be developed and tested for one version.

              That would reduce the number that could drag MS to court to those whose PC has actually been fucked up by the update/upgrade instead of now having to deal with everyone with "I never heard of an update!"

              • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday June 27, 2016 @09:56AM (#52398451)
                Not really. EULAs have never really been tested in court. If this is a first test, it's not looking good for Microsoft. They can make you click through terms stating that Microsoft can send someone to your house to shoot you in the face if you don't upgrade, that doesn't make it legally binding. Look at what the courts DO, not what Microsoft SAYS.
            • At the very least this wouldn't fly in Europe. Consumer protection laws pretty much nullify most click-through contracts, especially if they include clauses that contain stuff the average person would not expect to be in such contracts, which would certainly include "may FUBAR your computer".

              Once in a while, the computer cluelessness of judges actually works in your favor...

          • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )
            Even ignoring the whole Windows 8 -> Windows 10 EULA, couldn't this just be said as "Microsoft issued automatic update that failed and made the device perform worse"?
      • by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:45AM (#52398013)
        "If you agree to these terms and want your system automatically please click "OK" or just do nothing, and in 30 seconds we will take your lack of response as approval to automatically upgrade your system."
        • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by manu144x ( 3377615 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:51AM (#52398041)
          It's not funny, that's actually what the new Windows 10 Upgrade dialog looks like, happened to me personally.

          It just said tomorrow it will upgrade to windows 10, if you don't access this dialog by then, it will go on automatically.
          If I was gone over the weekend, as I usually leave my computer on in case I need to remote in, by the time I was back, it would have upgraded without any interaction.

          The level of lack of respect from Microsoft is truly incredible.
          • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @10:52AM (#52398827)

            It's not funny, that's actually what the new Windows 10 Upgrade dialog looks like, happened to me personally.

            An important thing is they removed the "Decline" option AND wrote the software so it could continue if you do not accept.

            You cannot "automatically" be committed to a new contract or agreement, you have not explicitly agreed with.

            The courts do the right thing to throw that out.

            • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:4, Informative)

              by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @05:36PM (#52401813)

              You accept the EULA when it first boots up into the new OS. If you decline it reverts you back. The problem is the massive waste of time this is, plus reverting to the original OS is not foolproof and screws up now and then. Sort of like being signed up to a book of the month club without your permissions; it's a pain in the ass to mail back all those unwanted books.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nunya666 ( 4446709 )

        My guess is that MS will just roll out a quick update, with a revised EULA.

        You MS fanboys are amazing. You even try to justify MS bricking hardware.

        We paid for Win7, so leave my OS the hell alone.

        Win7 is still supported, so upgrading it should be completely optional. Again, leave my paid-for and still-supported OS the hell alone.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          You MS fanboys are amazing. You even try to justify MS bricking hardware.

          Well, take it from a non-fanboy[*] then: you're still full of it.
          They're not bricking hardware.

          [*]: On a scale from 1-10, I rate Microsoft Software as herpes.

          • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

            They're not bricking hardware.

            Yet.

          • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @09:43AM (#52398357) Homepage

            They're not bricking hardware.

            Near enough for consumers. I am a computer repair tech and one of my Windows 10 appts last year was for someone where the Windows update failed, but so did the rollback. As far as your average consumer is concerned, that reboot loop might as well be a brick.

            • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @10:07AM (#52398523)

              Unless the term changed definition when I wasn't looking, "bricking" something is typically permanent - your hardware is now useless as anything other than a doorstop. Usually because a firmware update goes wrong so that you can't even reinstall it.

              When a Windows update borks... you just take it to your chosen techie to do a fresh install and your hardware works fine again. They can probably even salvage our data without too much trouble.

          • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by NotAPK ( 4529127 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @09:56AM (#52398445)

            Explain this to me:

            I buy a piece of hardware in good faith that it contains a genuine FTDI USB-serial chipset. The manufacturer also believes that their vendor has used the correct chipset, but actually, the cut-price manufacturer has swapped in a counterfeit chip.

            I let Win10 take control of my computer, and in due course it applies all updates as per the MS requirements.

            At some point in the future FTDI releases a driver update that *bricks* counterfeit chipsets. This update is applied to my computer by MS without my approval or knowledge, since updates on Win10 are no longer under my control.

            So WTF just happened?

            How is this better for me?

            PS: Anyone skeptical can Google and learn a bit, my scenario as presented above is 100% valid and based on recent events.

            • I'm familiar with the counterfeit FTDI USB to serial adapters. I have one or two floating around here at work. You can roll back the driver and then, in the Windows update window block that driver update. Or, at least you can do that in Win 10 Pro. I'm not sure about the home version crippleware. I've done the same process to fix Synaptics touchpads, who's version 19 drivers are completely broken in Windows 10.

              In theory, you can sue the manufacturer who sold you the USB-serial adapter, if it's worth yo

    • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:18AM (#52397897)

      That's fine by me. I actually upgraded to Windows 10 voluntarily (I write Windows software, so I need to be up-to-date) and don't buy the spyware boogieman stories (it's simple to turn most of that crap off), but frankly, Microsoft's heavy-handed tactics to trick people into upgrading without their explicit consent has been absolutely inexcusable, and shouldn't be rewarded.

      I was... moderately hopeful that we were seeing a new Microsoft, embracing open source, less hostile to others, slightly more humble now that they're not the only dominant player in the industry. Nope, instead, we see a new "fuck you, paying customer, we know what's best for you" attitude. They've always played hardball with competitors. Customers, if not treated *well*, per se, were at least left the hell alone once they had Windows installed. Now, they're being actively harassed and pushed into Microsoft's monetization plan.

      What's baffling to me is that Microsoft took what should have been a golden PR opportunity (free Windows upgrade), and turned it into a PR disaster.

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        instead, we see a new "fuck you, paying customer, we know what's best for you" attitude.

        That works for the only tech company with a market cap bigger than Microsoft's.

      • "'simple' to turn most of that crap off"

        For a power user, maybe. For a standard user, not really. Plus "most" isn't good enough. Besides a validity check on the installation plus Windows Updates, I see no reason why Microsoft needs to know anything about my machine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I used to do quite a bit of Windows dev work also. I have Windows 7 in a virtual machine just for that. I haven't been doing nearly as much lately mostly by choice. I do most of that Windows dev work with VS2008 even though I have VS all the way up to 2012. The reason I use 2008 is because newer versions just seemed to get slower and harder to use.
        When I read the article the other day about MS C++ compiler adding in telemetry info into programs compiled with it as a default option without any notice that it

        • When I read the article the other day about MS C++ compiler adding in telemetry info into programs compiled with it as a default option without any notice that it was doing it and having to explicitly turn it off, I was glad I hadn't continued getting new versions of VS.

          Bloody hell, I'd not heard of that.

          Seems that we're now only one step away from The Ken Thompson Hack [c2.com], that's if we're not already secretly there already.

      • What's baffling to me is that Microsoft took what should have been a golden PR opportunity (free Windows upgrade), and turned it into a PR disaster.

        You really believe it's free? How naive. There's always a price to pay. Ask the greeks about that "free" trojan horse.

      • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Informative)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @09:25AM (#52398225) Homepage Journal

        (it's simple to turn most of that crap off)

        Pray, tell, how do you turn all of it off?
        Short of buying a Windows Server to run as a domain controller, and only use Windows Enterprise Edition for the desktops and laptops, and constantly research, write and push your own group policy objects to whack the latest mole, I don't think you can.

        Turning most of the spyware off is like removing most of the human droppings from your soup.

      • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @09:33AM (#52398275)

        That's fine by me. I actually upgraded to Windows 10 voluntarily (I write Windows software, so I need to be up-to-date) and don't buy the spyware boogieman stories (it's simple to turn most of that crap off), but frankly, Microsoft's heavy-handed tactics to trick people into upgrading without their explicit consent has been absolutely inexcusable, and shouldn't be rewarded.

        It's absolutely amazing to me that you are quick to label their trickery as "inexcusable", and yet you actually trust them when the button on the crapware interface says "off".

        • This is an important point. Microsoft has shown without any confusion that they can no longer be trusted. "Well he does beat his wife, sure, but he's still available to babysit if you gave him a chance!"

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Sounds like a great use for Small Claims Court. In the UK it's always at your local court, you don't need a lawyer and it only costs 35 quid (about $3 at today's exchange rate).

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Sounds like a great use for Small Claims Court. In the UK it's always at your local court, you don't need a lawyer and it only costs 35 quid

        It is, but queue the people from the US who say that since it's in the EULA you can't do that. Never mind those of us in commonwealth countries that don't use the same legal system or anything.

        (about $3 at today's exchange rate)

        Talk about persistent whining from people who've never actually lived under actual low currency exchange rates next to one of the largest economies in the world. FYI: A low dollar for the UK right now is a great thing, especially for your export sectors. And especially to forge trade alliances with other countries

    • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:43AM (#52398003)

      My guess is now a lot of people are going to be suing MS over this. While they deny they did any wrong doing, the court saw it otherwise.

      The class action lawsuits. Some lawyers are going to get rich.

      • Re:Cue the lawsuits. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:52AM (#52398053) Homepage

        Most people would probably be better off filing at small claims court in situations like this. With class action suits, it seems that the lawyers end up with a bunch of money, and the people that were actually wronged get coupons for free stuff they never wanted . At small claims court, you don't need a lawyer, and you will probably win a fair bit more actual money provided you can show actual damages like this person did. It might be a bit more difficult if you aren't using your computer to run a business, but I'm sure that you could claim any expenses from taking your computer in and getting it fixed, plus money for all that hardship.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @07:45AM (#52397767)

    ...then the forced upgrades ought to be worth at least that.

    Not a couple of weeks ago, I got a card in the mail saying there had been some kind of settlement over front loading washing machines. I went to the web site, clicked some options (it seemed legit; they asked for no personal information, and you had to enter two validation codes from the card) and it seems I'm to get $50 for some defect or other related to mold and my washing machine, a machine which never stopped working and I still use (there is some mold on the door seal, I just wipe it off periodically, other than that it cleans just fine).

    If my desktop computer which worked acceptably began downloading a new operating system and then quit working right after, shouldn't I be entitled at least $50 in a class action? My guess is Microsoft didn't quit this lawsuit because it just didn't feel like litigating that day, they did to halt the contagion of a precedent of four or five figure legal decisions over their Win 10 upgrade.

    For a lot of use cases, it's not hard to see high costs: new machine, new application version(s) to be installed, data migrated, loss of use, $10k isn't entirely out of range in many business use cases.

    I just kind of hope MS ends up with one of those disclaimers in their financial report explaining how they are setting aside $500 million to handle lawsuits resulting from their forced and negligent forced upgrades.

    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:51AM (#52398045) Homepage

      My guess is Microsoft didn't quit this lawsuit because it just didn't feel like litigating that day, they did to halt the contagion of a precedent of four or five figure legal decisions over their Win 10 upgrade.

      Except this woman won her lawsuit. Microsoft dropped their appeal. The precedent has been set. You might need to prove exactly what the forced Windows 10 "upgrade" cost you, but you can cite this case along with your proof. (BTW, you can't just "quit" a lawsuit if you are the defendant, but you could try to arrange a settlement to avoid setting legal precedent.)

  • by entropy01 ( 2618347 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @07:47AM (#52397785)
    "Microsoft denies any wrongdoing, and says they only halted their appeal to avoid the cost of further litigation." MS has some deep pockets. Their given reason makes no sense. They could outspend any litigant.
    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:06AM (#52397851) Homepage

      MS has some deep pockets. Their given reason makes no sense. They could outspend any litigant.

      Of course it makes sense. They think it's going to cost them less. Where would the sense be in spending millions if the case can be put away for thousands?

      Just because someone has billions, doesn't mean it "makes no sense" for them to avoid spending millions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Normally they do that to avoid admitting to wrong doing, in this case I tend to think they felt they'd lose on appeal and be forced to admit wrong doing without doubt, where in this case it's wrong doing but the doubt that it might have been over turned on appeal.

      • Of course it makes sense. They think it's going to cost them less. Where would the sense be in spending millions if the case can be put away for thousands?

        Just because someone has billions, doesn't mean it "makes no sense" for them to avoid spending millions.

        Unless by leaving a precedent set of a customer successfully suing and winning, you invite LOTS of others to follow on. This is especially the case when there is such a large pool of potential candidates and a general dislike for the practices that precipitated the suit. You might want to look at how IBM and Newegg handle similar situations. No quarter is given in order to discourage followers.

        Bailing out early on the first suit might cause you to have to spend a lot more on others later. Unless you

  • "upgrade" repairs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 27, 2016 @07:50AM (#52397789)

    As an IT company who has repaired literally hundreds of failed updates, as well as failed roll backs to the previous operation system (using Microsoft's own "revert me to my previous operation system" restore option, which had maybe a 60% success rate), the cost to consumers has likely been staggering in the aggregate.

    While profitable to my company, I can't help but feel like there needs to be a very quick verdict against Microsoft, ruling several hundred dollars to anyone who can show (Via invoice or other means) that they had to pay money to repair the damage/inconvenience Microsoft directly caused as a result of their underhanded tactics to upgrade the world to Windows 10.

    If this were a mistake made by some fledgling software company it might be excusable as an oversight, but this is a many decades old software company, with many legal experiences under their belt... this should never have happened and there should be actual repercussions.

  • Rinse and repeat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Monday June 27, 2016 @08:01AM (#52397821)

    If a few thousand other people who have similarly suffered also sued Microsoft it would send a message. Money talks. Publicity talks. Rinse and repeat and these kinds of things will no longer happen.

  • Having personally witnessed that it is entirely possible to upgrade a windows machine to windows 10 without a single incident, and also entirely possible (and easy) to disable all of the metrics and info that the software wants to send about you, I am thinking that these stories that we hear about Windows 10 and how awful it is are overblown.

    It is often the case that we only hear about it when things go wrong, and so it is perhaps that we are led to conclude that this is the general state of affairs, but so few people report when things go right that we cannot make a meaningful and objective evaluation without trying it for ourselves.

    Windows 10 is not anywhere nearly as bad as what these stories paint it to be. While it's true that by default it does want to do certain things that no sane person would want in a desktop OS, these things are actually extremely easy to disable... even at installation time, if you decide to not use the express settings.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TroII ( 4484479 )

      entirely possible (and easy) to disable all of the metrics and info that the software wants to send about you

      I'm impressed. I tried to do this, but Windows 10 continued sending thousands of encrypted packets per day to different Microsoft servers. I have no idea what's in those packets. You apparently were able to decrypt them, inspect their contents, and determine they were benign. Would you mind sharing your analysis?

  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @10:59AM (#52398861) Homepage Journal

    Ford execs decided it was cheaper to let people burn, and pay the cost in court, than it was to fix the issue.

    The memo cost them a lot of goodwill, but they are still around.

    MS is probably looking that memo over right now thinking the same thing.
    Cost to pay pissed off citizens is cheaper than fixing Win10, so....

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