Consumers Sue Microsoft over Windows 10 Upgrade

August 2, 2016

REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR

REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR

Microsoft is currently the target in two lawsuits based on the process for upgrades for the Windows 10 product.  Both lawsuits allege that the upgrade process used by Microsoft to transition users of older versions of the Windows product to Windows 10 violated consumer protection rules.  Courts in the two cases are currently considering whether the actions should be certified as class action lawsuits on behalf of a wide range of Microsoft customers.

These cases are reportedly currently in progress in a federal court in Florida and in an Israeli court in Haifa.  The actions focus on Microsoft’s unconventional use of the “X” icon associated with on-screen pop-up windows as part of the Windows 10 upgrade process.  Traditionally, by clicking on an “X” icon, an individual closes a pop-up window.  Reportedly, in the Windows 10 upgrade process, a click on the “X” icon was interpreted by Microsoft as assent for the upgrade.

Matsuura Blakeley BannerPlaintiffs in these cases contend that Microsoft’s unconventional use of pop-up messages and associated “X” icons in the Windows 10 process confused and misled consumers.  They allege that the Windows 10 upgrade process was overly aggressive and that it constituted violations of restrictions on electronic advertising and violations of prohibitions against unfair and deceptive business practices.

These cases are apparently not the first initiated against Microsoft as a result of the Windows 10 upgrade process.  Reportedly, Microsoft has been ordered to pay at least one other consumer several thousand dollars as compensation for its Windows 10 upgrade process.

This dispute highlights the issue of online business practices.  Increasing attention is being paid to the extent to which electronic commercial transactions and relationships are fair to consumers.  Electronic commerce activities viewed to be deceptive or unfair to consumers are now routinely targeted for legal and regulatory remedies.

It seems likely that Microsoft will face an increasing number of legal actions associated with its Windows 10 transition.  However, Microsoft will not be the only target of the growing consumer activism in the digital marketplace.  It appears that consumer protection enforcement action in the context of electronic commerce will be one of the most dynamic aspects of overall consumer protection law for the foreseeable future.