Microsoft Pays $10k After Windows 10 Breaks PC

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has agreed to pay $10,000 to a woman who says her computer was wrecked by an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade. The terms of the payment means there's no guarantee others in the same situation would prevail in court.

Teri Goldstein says her computer automatically downloaded and attempted to install Windows 10 just days after it was released last July. If that's the case, that timeline certainly suggests some form of technical mistake as its only in recent months that Microsoft has stepped up its program of pushing the system out as an automatic update to many users.

Broken Computer Hurt Business

According to Goldstein, speaking to the Seattle Times, the attempted update failed but left her computer running slowly and unreliably, often being unusable. That was a particular problem as she used the computer to run her travel agency business. (Source:

After reportedly failing in attempts to get help through Microsoft's customer support, Goldstein sued the company for lost income and the cost of a new computer. After she won an initial verdict awarding her $10,000, Microsoft launched an appeal.

The company has now dropped the appeal but denied any wrongdoing. Microsoft says it decided not to pursue the case because of the legal costs of taking it further. That means it hasn't formally admitted it has done anything unlawful in the way it pushes out Windows 10, in turn meaning the Goldstein case likely can't be cited as a precedent in any further lawsuits.

Other Similar Cases Cited

The Seattle Times cites several interviewees who say they've had Windows 10 installed on their computer despite repeatedly and actively rejecting prompts to go ahead with the upgrade.

Meanwhile the Telegraph newspaper quotes another user who also had an unwanted installation go wrong, leaving his computer unusable. To date it appears that only a tiny proportion of people have been affected in this way. (Source:

However, the sheer number of Windows users, including 300 million devices already running Windows 10, means that even a small percentage of problems adds up to a lot of people. It's therefore no surprise Microsoft was keen not to admit responsibility in this case. Were it to face a class action suit and lose, the costs could soon mount up.

What's Your Opinion?

Assuming Teri Goldstein's claims are correct, is $10,000 fair compensation or should Microsoft face punitive penalties? Should Microsoft have done more to ensure Windows 10 upgrades - wanted or otherwise - wouldn't damage computers? Or are such problems unavoidable given the sheer number of computers involved?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I receive a lot of emails from users that are worried about the upgrade. Yes, it's true that some people will run into quirks during and after the upgrade. The best advice is to make a disk image backup of the system beforehand - that will help in case if something catastrophic (as suggested in this story) - you can simply roll back to the previous operating system.

As for resolving quirks after the upgrade: solving those issues may take some skill. If anyone needs help upgrading to Windows 10, simply contact me and I can help you via remote desktop support, plus I can answer any questions you may have. I can also make Windows 10 act more like 7. In my opinion, Windows 10 is worth the free upgrade since it's free and will be supported indefinitely - but only if you make the leap before July 29. It's fairly stable now, compared to the initial release a year ago.

dan_2160's picture

I've done a dozen or so upgrades to Windows 10 without difficulty. The secret -- for my experience, at least -- has been to use Microsoft's Media Creation Tool for the installation rather than letting Windows Update handle it. You can get details on this at:
I've been creating a USB Flash Drive with the installation and it has gone quite smoothly.

Another key, however, is to get the existing version of Windows into good shape before upgrading to Windows 10. That means cleaning out the junk, uninstalling any programs the computer's owner doesn't use any more, and updating drivers and programs to their most recent versions.

If you wish to retain a Windows 7 style Start button and menu, you should download Start10 from (30-day free trial, $4,99 price) or the free Classic Shell before doing the upgrade to Windows 10. I've found that you get what you pay for and that Start10 is far easier to configure and use.

Finally, I cannot overstate how important Dennis' advice is to make a backup image on external media of your current hard drive. If you have a separate C drive (for the OS and programs) and D drive (for data), you would be prudent to make back ups of both just for safety's sake. (I'd recommend a back up image of the C drive and a clone of the D drive.)

After installing Windows 10 you will need to do some tweaking to re-establish many of the customizations you may have made (like eliminating shortcut arrows on the desktop icons, location of Temp directories, etc.) But otherwise the upgrades have gotten easier and smoother as time passes by. I think Microsoft has fixed nearly all the bugs in the upgrade.

doliceco's picture

Congratulations to this company for suing Microsoft and winning their case! This should serve as a precedent for all users who have had any bad results of any kind when attempting to install WIN 10, and NOT only when when MS installed it forcibly themselves without the computer users' permissions. We need more lawsuits not only against MS, but against any companies whose software installs cause problems on users' computers.

It's a ridiculous situation when one of the largest, oldest, and supposedly the most capable creator and producer of operating systems on this planet insists on forcing users of its previous systems to install this dog!

rwells78's picture

Despite using the Media Creation Tool on my Win 7 Dell laptop, it was very ugly. The first attempt seemed to install, but nothing worked once the main screen came up. The option to roll back to Win 7 did not exist. So I reinstalled Win 10 again. It kind of worked but had major issues with Wi-Fi and USB ports. So after a third install and multiple rounds of updates and driver updates, it mostly works.I then discovered it uninstalled nearly all programs in use, so then I spent more hours reinstalling MS Office and other programs.

That said I also tried using the Media Creation Tool on a much older Dell desktop with Win XP and that install worked like a smooth machine. My two coworkers experienced the surprise overnight upgrade to Win 10 on Win 8.1 Dell laptops. Fortunately, those updates went smoothly. So I guess YMMV clearly applies to Win 10 installs.

Not really sure it is worth this pain for people with older hardware. You would be better off sticking with Win 7 or 8 if it is working for you until you are ready for new hardware.

I was pleasantly surprised that all of my older peripherals (HP printer and Sharp printer) did work with Win 10.

I certainly don't feel bad that MS had to pay a single user $10,000!

w4bms9_2757's picture

The problem is that a LOT of people do NOT want Windows 10 as it is not as stable as Windows 7.
So the best way to solve this problem is by using a program called True Image back up, now the way this works is it makes a back up of your entire drive including the boot settings. Now if you have a crash or the unwanted upgrade all you have to do is restore your system with the back up restore disk that you have to make. But you have to back up to another drive so you can't destroy the backup. And one more thing you need to do this daily if this computer is a business computer. So if anything happens you can just restore it back to the day before and you are good to go on with business. This has saved me quite a few times from ransom ware and add ware problems, it will be the best investment you can do for yourself and your business.

ronbh's picture

This should be a landmark case
I don't care how good Win 10 is. the fact is that it is being forced on customers is the problem.
A couple of accidental clicks and presto the software is being installed. even if it goes fine your computer will be down most likely at a time when you needed it.

I am very impressed that Tori was able to win a lawsuit against Microsoft. I would have thought that they would have changed the user agreement so that they bear no responsibility in the event of any failure or loss of data.

Hopefully some lawyers will instigate a huge class action suit against Microsoft. It may prove to be a preventive measure against other companies doing the same thing.

matt_2058's picture

If anything, MS should have been ordered to provide a clean install of her previous OS. First is the common User Agreement with almost all software and stating limits of responsibility to software only. Second is that I have yet to see a computer in an office setting that does not have software and/or hardware that contributes to the complaint " ...left her computer running slowly and unreliably, often being unusable". A few browser tabs of AOL or Yahoo entertainment news, 10 most exciting vacation spots, 20 most glamorous celeb weddings, social network sites, browser emoticon toolbars, etc.. will bring an ordinary office machine to its knees. And last, I bet someone didn't maintain the machine to start with. I constantly remind family that their computer needs more attention than their car to work optimally.

I have 4 machines and none of them tried to install Win10, and I didn't do anything that would have presented a roadblock. The tablet will stay Win8.1 for lack of memory. The Win7 Pro laptop was upgraded with a clean install of Win10. One desktop Win8.1 got a update to Win10. The last laptop is in limbo, deciding on adding memory.