Home Home Tech Microsoft challenged in the UK to compensate failed Windows 10 installs

Which?, the largest consumer body in the UK, has called on Microsoft to take action and honour the rights of consumers who have been adversely affected by the Windows 10 upgrade (from Windows 7 or 8.x).

There has been a lot of publicity, mostly negative, about the processes employed by Microsoft to ensure its Windows 7 and 8.x users upgraded to Windows 10. So far, about 350 million have done so, but there have been casualties along the way.

Which? says it has received more than 1000 complaints including that some peripherals don’t work after an upgrade, or a third-party repair has been required to fix unspecified issues after the upgrade.

Microsoft has responded that it offers free support including the ability to remotely access a person’s PC (if it has not been bricked) and that the upgrade was no different to Apple forcing its iOS or macOS upgrades on users to minimise future fragmentation issues. But nothing Microsoft says will satisfy disaffected users.

Which? has suggested that Microsoft

  1. Honour the rights of consumers adversely affected by the Windows 10 update. This includes paying compensation where it’s due under the Consumer Rights Act (UK) 2015.
  2. Raise the profile of its Windows 10 customer support (both the free support phone number and online) to ensure every consumer – particularly older and more vulnerable users – are aware of the free support they can use.

Comment

Which? is a respected UK membership-based consumer organisation. There is no suggestion intended that it is drum beating on this issue, but its members tend to be more vocal – a little like GetUp! Australia et al., it is an activist group that likes to be heard.

There has been no call from Australian consumer groups like Choice nor has the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission regarded the issue as a breach of Australian Consumer Law. There have been a few reports of compensation being paid on judgment by some US courts.

The fact is that the “forced” free upgrade so often referred to by IT media was over on 29 July and Microsoft has been particularly generous in interpreting the words “Upgrade from a legal copy” and helping users get over any reported issues. Once upgraded that machine has a Windows licence for the rest of its serviceable life and a clean install can be done at any time.

But it has had several well-documented issues — so far all fixed in subsequent patches — mainly due to incompatibilities with older hardware, programs, applications, security tools, or pre-existing issues within Windows 7 or 8.x that are exacerbated after an upgrade.

Windows is now a WaaS – Windows as a Service, and that is good as you will see updates for the life of the machine. Down the track, it is inevitable that as silicon technology advances, certain elements of WaaS won’t work on legacy hardware (just as Apple cannot support some older iPhones or Macs) but that is a good few years away. Certainly, almost anything from Intel’s 4th generation Haswell (or AMD equivalent) circa 2013 will be good until the old PC clunker dies.

My personal experience – I upgraded well over 50 machines, and all bar one were without issue. The one failure, an old media centre PC, started life as an XP box, circa 2001. It had been OK after an upgrade to Vista and then Windows 7, 32-bit Home Premium but the legacy Pentium motherboard, 2GB of memory, a clone NVIDIA graphics card and Window’s 32-bit defeated me. A new motherboard, CPU, memory and ATI graphics card solved the issue, and I installed Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium before the upgrade to W 10.

To repeat – nothing Microsoft says or does will satisfy some. While I think Microsoft was heavy-handed in pushing Windows 10 upgrades, it is easy after the fact to be grateful for both the free upgrade and WaaS as it has protected the investment in a lot of legacy hardware and will continue to do so.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

 

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