Microsoft Germany agrees to stop forcing Windows upgrade downloads

Microsoft has responded to a 'Get Windows 10'-era consumer protection complaint by vowing to get user permission before downloading upgrade installation files.

Microsoft Germany agrees to stop forcing Windows upgrade downloads

After 18 months of delays, Microsoft has responded to a cease-and-desist complaint filed by Munich’s Baden-Würtenberg consumer rights center (Verbraucherschutz) by vowing to never again forcibly download upgrade files onto customers’ computers prior to obtaining their consent. Microsoft had lost in Munich courts twice and submitted this stipulation prior to the third, presumably final, round.

According to my own translation of the government’s press release, Microsoft has agreed it will no longer download Windows upgrade files before explicitly receiving permission.

As you undoubtedly recall, that was a key part of the “Get Windows 10” campaign — the behind-the-scenes downloading of 6 to 8GB of Win10 upgrade files without the customer’s knowledge or consent. It was one of the least savory of Microsoft's customer-antagonistic Windows 10 upgrade tactics. I wondered at the time how sneaking 8GB of data onto a customer's hard drive could possibly be legal. Now it seems that it wasn't — at least in Munich.

The press release quotes Cornelia Tausch, head of the consumer center, as saying the government would have wished for a quicker resolution of the problem, but the commitment from Microsoft “is a success for consumer rights in the digital world.”

The commitment from Microsoft Germany is narrowly directed at forced downloading of upgrade files without user consent. But German blogger Günter Born raises a related question:

Do Microsoft’s feature-upgrades, in combination with the Windows 10 auto-update mechanism, violate the cease and desist letter?

It’s interesting to me that Microsoft has (finally!) publicly disavowed one aspect of its ill-conceived “Get Windows 10” campaign. No doubt the wording of the Microsoft statement was intended to cover the specific events of “Get Windows 10” and nothing further. But in addition to Born’s question, you have to wonder if Microsoft’s mea culpa in Munich could have an impact on ongoing lawsuits in the U.S.

Share your fond memories of “Get Windows 10” on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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