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Germans force Microsoft to scrap future pushy Windows 10 upgrades

Redmond's cramming of OS on machines provokes sour krauts

By Iain Thomson, 23 Aug 2017

Microsoft sparked fury when it aggressively pushed its Windows 10 operating system onto people's PCs – from unexpected downloads to surprise installations.

Now a consumer rights group has forced Redmond to promise it will never do it again, in Germany at least.

In 2015, Microsoft offered existing Windows 7 and 8 users a free upgrade to its new cloud-friendly OS, and rapidly become increasingly ambitious about getting it onto machines. After bundling the upgrade alongside its monthly security patches and resorting to tricky tactics, loads of users found they were downloading gigabytes of unwanted Redmond code.

This riled a lot of folks, but Germany – one of the few countries that takes consumer rights seriously – actually took action. The Consumer Center in Baden-Württemberg filed a cease-and-desist complaint against Redmond regarding the practice, and the software giant has unexpectedly caved and promised never to do it again.

"We would have wished for an earlier introduction, but the levy is a success for more consumer rights in the digital world," said Cornelia Tausch, CEO of the Center.

As a result, Microsoft will be less pushy in Germany, but that doesn't appear to help the rest of us. Microsoft acknowledged the ruling but has yet to let The Register know if the same policy will be adopted worldwide.

"Our goal is for our customers to have a great upgrade experience and enjoy the most secure and most productive Windows," a Microsoft spokesperson told us. "We're pleased this matter is resolved."

This comes after Swiss regulators managed to twist Microsoft's arm, resulting in a mild overhaul in Windows 10's privacy settings. That tweak was rolled out worldwide – so perhaps the above promise on friendlier upgrades will make its way across the globe, too. ®

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