Man sets out to sue Microsoft over Windows 10 upgrade nag screen, gets some cash

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Oh, boy. Microsoft recently shelled out $650 to a customer thanks to its aggressive Windows 10 upgrade campaign. Between July 2015 and July 2016, the company did everything it could to get customers to jump on the Windows 10 bandwagon, from flashing nag screens on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to ‘tricking’ customers into upgrading when all they wanted was the company to go away.

In this particular case, Windows 10 automatically installed itself on a custom-built machine owned by an Alzheimer’s patient. Because of this, the patient’s grandson Jesse Worley, a tech consultant, was forced to spend 10 hours formatting the hard drive, re-installing Windows 7, and setting the desktop up to resemble Windows XP so his grandfather could use the computer again.

The desktop was originally built 10 years ago. It mimics Windows XP because that is the operating system the grandfather used before receiving the Alzheimer’s diagnosis and retiring from work. Since then, the computer became part of his grandfather’s daily ritual, and when Windows 10 creeped in and changed everything, the upgrade caused “distress” within the household.

Windows 10 decided to install itself on the machine because the ‘Get Windows 10’ notification was dismissed using the ‘X’ button. Instead of an expected dismissal of the nagging notification, this set the machine up to receive the Windows 10 treatment. Worley believes his grandfather clicked to dismiss the notification in the May/June timeframe, which was within the free update window.

“Had Microsoft not gone out of their way to be deceptive, my grandfather pretty clearly wouldn’t have been updated to Windows 10,” he said. “They interrupted the basic functions of their own software — the X button — in an attempt to fool people into updating, so any affirmative consent he or anyone else may have given for the update can’t be considered valid during that period.”

Annoyed with the whole situation, Worley threatened to sue Microsoft in small claims court over the unwanted upgrade. He told The Register he was not interested in obtaining money, but rather wanted the Redmond, Washington, company to acknowledge it was deceitful in how Windows 10 automatically installed though the Windows 10 nag screen.

As stated in Microsoft’s Windows End User License Agreement, anyone can sue the company in small claims court. As part of the process, Worley was required to notify Microsoft of his intent in writing. That prompted a response from Microsoft over the phone, who admitted that the option to decline the upgrade was not present in the notification.

Ultimately, Worley wanted $650 for the time he spent rebuilding the operating system, which required a boot drive because his grandfather’s PC doesn’t have an optical drive. He also had to install software to block any future Windows upgrade attempts on the machine. Microsoft acknowledged his efforts with a $150 credit to the Microsoft Store and a $500 VISA gift card.

Worley refused Microsoft’s offer and instead wanted a $650 donation to an Alzheimer’s charity. Microsoft declined and sent him a $650 check instead that Worley cashed and donated to charity anyway.

“We were saddened to learn of the problem this family faced with our products and we are committed to working directly with our customers to address their needs,” Microsoft told The Register. “We will continue to listen to customer feedback and make improvements based on what we are hearing from our customers.”

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