Microsoft’s legal trouble regarding its Windows 10 upgrade practices came to a head last Friday, when three men in Florida sued the company for alleged unsolicited electronic advertisements and deceptive business practices.
Microsoft has been aggressively advertising Windows 10 for months. They have gone as far as installing the software on the computers of Microsoft users automatically, requiring Microsoft users who wish to keep the older software to preemptively install third-party applications and change their computers’ update policies. In addition, Microsoft allegedly changed their notification for the new upgrade such that the same input initially used to dismiss the upgrade notification (pressing a red “X”) no longer dismissed the upgrade – instead, it installed it. The effect has been that some users who repeatedly refused the upgrade for months inadvertently upgraded to the new software.
While it may sound as if users have no reason to complain (after all, they got a free upgrade), the unintended upgrade has caused real financial damage to some individuals and small businesses. Teri Goldstein, a small business owner in California, was awarded $10,000 last month for lost wages and the cost of a new computer. The upgrade left her older hardware unable to run at an acceptable speed, rendering her work technology crash-prone and unusable. The technical hiccups put a dent in her work proficiency, resulting in real financial harm to her business. Other plaintiffs in similar situations have been grouped together to form the basis for the class action suits that were filed last Friday.
Legal Rights of Those Affected
There is no a comprehensive definition of the types of unfair business practices that are banned under federal law. However, if the Federal Trade Commission finds that a business has been causing harm by conducting business in a deceptive or unfair fashion, those affected may recover the dollar amount equal to the harm caused. Contact our office if you know of a business harming consumers through deceptive or unfair practices.