Microsoft Pays Price For Unwanted Update

John Lister's picture

Microsoft may have to pay more than a thousand dollars to a user whose PC was upgraded to Windows 10 without permission. The money covers damage after allegedly breaking the computer.

The case is in Finland where the Finnish Consumer Disputes Panel ruled on a complaint by a user. Local media reports say that companies usually pay up in such cases. (Source:

The claim followed an unwanted update from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 in March 2016. That's when Microsoft was using the Windows Update service to download the Windows 10 files and then automatically install it on a restart unless the user spotted what was happening and actively opted out.

The move was hugely controversial at the time, not just for the unwanted update, but because the unrequested file downloads affected people on limited data use broadband plans.

Computer Required Repair

The complaint said the man's computer no longer worked after the update and had to be repaired, with Microsoft support staff unable to fix the problem. The update also meant he was no longer able to use remote surveillance of a property.

The man had asked for €3,000 compensation to cover the cost of the repairs, replacement security cameras and the time the man spent fixing the problems.

Microsoft quibbled with the extent of the claim and noted the free customer support it offered, but didn't deny the download had happened without permission.

Update Not Done Professionally

The panel decided that because Windows is licensed, the updates count as services under local consumer laws. It said Microsoft breached rules that say services must be carried out in a careful and professional way.

In deciding the financial compensation, the panel said Microsoft didn't have to pay for new security cameras as the man hadn't proven its mistake made it necessary to buy them. It also rejected a claim for lost working time as he hadn't proven his estimated figure was valid.

However, the panel did award €1,000 to over the costs of spare parts and servicing for the PC and a further €100 to cover travel costs. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Should this ruling be followed elsewhere in similar cases? Should Microsoft face punitive penalties rather than just paying compensation? How clear do warnings have to be before users can take on the risk and responsibility for installing software updates?

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jimain's picture

Microsoft generally provides the user the chance to opt out of "automatic" updates. There are novices who may not realize the implications of opting out. The company should make it clear what the likely impact is. Unwanted updates should not happen.

russoule's picture

Microsoft is notorious for having little consumer friendly advice. Errors that occur are shown as "Error 8x34x5xx89 happened. You're done." and the user is forced to try and look it up on a machine that isn't running. "Updates" are loaded with software for 3D something or other without a request or acceptance by the user. Microsoft says "Maybe you'll want it in the future so we intend to keep on the system." and doesn't allow the user to remove it. XBox? I have abso;ute;y no need whatsoever for XBox anything and yet it is loaded with the "upgrade" and then I have to remove it again! Microsoft is definitely NOT consumer oriented!