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Microsoft facing $5m class action over Windows 10 upgrades

Three Windows users are attempting to claim $5m in damages from Microsoft for problems caused by faulty Windows 10 upgrades

Three Windows users in the US state of Illinois are attempting to bring a class action against Microsoft to claim more than $5m in compensation for allegedly faulty upgrades to Windows 10.

Stephanie Watson, Robert Saiger and Howard Goldberg allege that upgrades to Windows 10 resulted in data loss and computer damage, according to a complaint uploaded by Courthouse News.

Watson claims her hard drive failed after Windows 10 installed without her express approval and she had to buy a new computer. Saiger elected to upgrade his computer but claims his applications stopped working after the installation. Goldberg claims he upgraded his system after clicking “no” to daily popup adverts on his computer for six months.

“After three attempts to download Windows 10, each of which tied up his computer for extended periods of time, Goldberg’s computer was damaged, and Windows 10 was not actually downloaded and functional,” the complaint states. Goldberg claims he had to pay Microsoft to make his computer work again.

The three are attempting to gain class status on behalf of potentially hundreds of thousands of Windows users in the US who also suffered data loss or damage within 30 days of upgrading to Windows 10.

The complaint claims that upgrade was defective and failed to contain adequate warnings or instructions, warning the consumer that installation of the upgrade may result in loss of data or damage to hardware.

“Absent a warning or instruction, a reasonable consumer would not be aware that the upgrade could result in loss of data or damage to hardware,” said the complaint. “Furthermore, warnings would permit consumers to take action to mitigate the potential harm, such as making a backup before installing the upgrade.”

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The complaint also alleges it was difficult to dismiss pop-up adverts offering “free upgrades” and that they offered no option to refuse an upgrade or block future ads.

“A great number of people have installed the Windows 10 system inadvertently or without full realisation of the extent of the download. Once downloaded, the Windows 10 system does not have an option for its deletion,” said the complaint.

Microsoft has dismissed the complaint, saying the Windows 10 free upgrade program was a choice designed to help people take advantage of the most secure and productive Windows.

“Customers had the option not to upgrade to Windows 10. If a customer who upgraded during the one-year program needed help with the upgrade experience, we had numerous options including free customer support and 31 days to roll back to their old operating system. We believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit,” the company said in a statement to Courthouse News.

Accusations of misleading users

Similar claims about Microsoft’s aggressive marketing campaign to migrate users to Windows 10 did not make it clear that the upgrade was optional have led to several complaints.

One resultant court case led to a $10,000 settlement in June 2016. A business owner took Microsoft to court over an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade to her PC.

Teri Goldstein of Sausalito, California, found her PC had downloaded the free Windows 10 upgrade without her permission, according to the Seattle Times. After Windows 10 was automatically installed, she said her PC would crash frequently, causing problems with running her business.

The latest complaint asserts claims for breach of warranty, product liability, negligence and consumer fraud, and, if class action goes ahead, Microsoft could face a payout of more than $5m in compensation for data loss and damage to computers.

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