Ayyyylmao, Windows 10 upgrades. This thing has honestly been the most talked-about topic in the tech industry since the Windows 8 Start screen controversy. Microsoft has been rather upfront about upgrading qualifying users to Windows 10, and they’ve been strong-arming a lot of them into upgrading. There’s been the use of sly tactics and UI shenanigans to get people to accidentally upgrade, and the Windows 10 upgrade is itself a recommended update for Windows 7 and 8.1 users.
But while most people haven’t been successful with getting Microsoft to relent on these shady practices, one has broken the mould by suing the software giant for $10,000 in damages over a Windows 10 upgrade that literally cost them business revenue. This won’t make Microsoft more shy about being so heavy-handed about the upgrade, but it sets a precedent for a class action lawsuit to follow.
The claimant in the suit was Teri Goldstein from California, U.S., who convinced a presiding judge in a small claims court that the upgrade had cost her dearly in terms of revenue. A travel agent operating out from her office in Sausalito, California, Goldstein started work one morning and was greeted to the Windows 10 login screen. After reverting back to Windows 7, her computer was generally unresponsive, software was generally broken, and phoning Microsoft support yielded no results in getting her computer back up to speed. She claimed to have lost revenue and important clients that day, and is probably the first person to actually have proof of it as well.
Goldstein initially won her case against Microsoft, but the company lodged an appeals claim. It was short-lived, though, as they dropped their appeal and offered to settle out of court with legal fees attached. Goldstein eventually got her computer working with Windows 7 again, and will probably not be upgrading to Windows 10 anytime soon. $10,000 doesn’t seem like much to Microsoft, and it’s literally pocket change for the company, but it’s an important first step in holding the company accountable for its actions.
Over the past year, thousands of people have been complaining about the Windows 10 upgrade. At first, it was entirely optional, and you had to reserve your place in the queue. Then, it became a suggested update, and you could do the upgrade through Windows Update instead of the Windows 8.1 store. Over time, that nagging pop-up has changed in so many ways to trick users into accepting the update and avoiding the installation has become a nuanced art in itself, not to mention avoiding all the telemetry updates that Microsoft foists upon Windows 7 and 8.1 users. It has worked as planned for Microsoft though – over 300 million devices run Windows 10, a staggering rollout accomplished in just one year.
With this judgement, Microsoft is now open to similar lawsuits from individuals or businesses who didn’t want the Windows 10 upgrade to happen in the first place. $10,000 might seem enough for one individual, but how about a small business employing twenty people, with a potential daily loss ten times that amount? What about a class action lawsuit with thousands of people attached? Paying out $10,000 to one person has opened the floodgates for lawsuits in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it might also be enough to bring the Windows 10 forced installations to the attention of the EU and other governing bodies that monitor the anti-competitive practices of monopolies like Microsoft’s.
Grab the popcorn! This is going to be an interesting space to keep an eye on.