Windows 10: 'Microsoft should pay compensation for user upgrade woes'

Now Microsoft's pushy Windows 10 upgrade offer is over, a consumer rights group has called on Microsoft to compensate users for the issues it caused.

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Upgrade issues quoted by Which? include problems with printers, Wi-Fi cards, lost files and email accounts not syncing properly.

Image: Microsoft

UK consumer rights group Which? has called for Microsoft to compensate Windows 10 users for the headaches caused by the upgrade.

According to the group, it has received hundreds of complaints about Microsoft's Windows 10 upgrade, including problems with printers, Wi-Fi cards, lost files, and email accounts not syncing properly.

Which? has 680,000 magazine subscriber members, and over 335,000 online subscribers. It said it had surveyed over 5,500 of its members in June, of whom 2,500 had upgraded to Windows 10. It found that 12 percent of upgraders had rolled back to an earlier version of Windows.

The group said some respondents had paid technicians to repair problems that appeared after the Windows 10 upgrade, which in some cases took place despite users declining Microsoft's upgrade notifications. Which? members complained of being "nagged" by Microsoft alerts to install the update.

"Which? is shining a light on the problem and calling on Microsoft to improve its customer service and repair and compensate its customers where appropriate," it said.

Microsoft said: "The Windows 10 upgrade is a choice designed to help people take advantage of the most secure, and most productive version of Windows. With more than 350 million monthly active devices now running Windows 10, the vast majority of customers who have upgraded to Windows 10 over the past year have had a seamless, positive experience. That said, for the relatively small number of users who may have issues with their upgrade experience, Microsoft offers a variety of options to get assistance including free customer support."

Of course, the Windows 10 upgrade is now over but the Which? survey and call for compensation add to a steady stream of complaints about Microsoft's handling of its one-year free offer to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users that began last July. Today it costs $119 to upgrade to Windows 10.

During that time, Microsoft faced widespread criticism for using aggressive tactics to boost Windows 10 adoption to meet a target of one billion devices by mid-2018. Its tactics prompted even ardent Windows fans at ZDNet to highlight workarounds that create choice where Microsoft had suppressed it.

The UK consumer group's call also follows US online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation in August blasting Microsoft for "disregarding user choice" during its one-year upgrade program, which "went from annoying to downright malicious".

In May, US consumer watchdog Consumer Reports highlighted why it saw Microsoft's process for agreeing to the Windows 10 upgrade as opaque and problematic: connected hardware, such as sound cards, doesn't work if their drivers aren't compatible with the operating system. That's one reason a user might want to defer an upgrade, which Microsoft illustrated again after rolling out Windows 10 Anniversary Update, knowing that it would break external webcams.

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