Microsoft’s overly aggressive efforts to get people to migrate to Windows 10 are well-documented. The company pushed people way too far by engaging in tactics like not allowing people to click a “No” option for the upgrade and changing the “X” from closing the prompt to giving permission to perform the upgrade.
There had been at least one prior victory over by a small business owner named Teri Goldstein who found Windows 10 forced onto her laptop used to run her travel agency and then rendered it unusable. She won $10,000 from Redmond.
There is now another victory, and this one is even more sympathetic because of the person impacted.
Jesse Worley, an independent IT contractor, had set up a Windows 7 machine to look like Windows XP for his grandfather, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. One of the palliative ways of treating the condition is to surround the sufferer with the familiar, so Worley wanted to make the Windows 7 PC look like XP, which his grandfather knew well before the condition struck.
In a lengthy post on his personal website (he eschews all social media, so it took a while for his story to get around), Worley documents the process. Like every other Windows 7 user, Worley’s grandfather was bombarded with the Get Windows X (GWX) app.
“My grandfather knows better than to say ‘yes’ to things that randomly pop up on his screen, so we had absolutely no problem explaining to him that Windows 10 wasn’t something we needed and that when it came up he just needed to say no. He did so successfully for more than 6 months while Microsoft bothered him with the same pop-up over and over and over again, and would have continued to do so if Microsoft hadn’t gone out of their way to trick him,” he wrote.
It worked for a while, until May of 2016, when Microsoft modified the design and function of their Get Windows X popup by changing the yes or no buttons to “install now” or “install later.”
“For users not paying attention, those with bad eyesight, those with Alzheimer’s Disease, or even those of us intentionally conditioned to click the ‘no’ button, we inadvertently opted in for an update!” he wrote. And his grandfather accidentally upgraded his PC. An attempted rollback failed, so Worley rebuilt the PC.
Worley had read about Goldstein’s victory and decided to pursue action against Microsoft for the $650 it cost to rebuild the computer. He goes into very lengthy and instructional detail, mostly to help out anyone else considering legal action against Microsoft.
“Just as I was inspired by Teri Goldstein to hold Microsoft accountable in my own way, I wrote this to hopefully compel others to discover their own methods of doing the same. Anyone who had to spend hours fixing a broken or unintended install for themselves or family should be demanding at least $50 per hour just as I did, or anyone who had to pay a professional should be sending in copies of invoices expecting full reimbursement. If recent history holds steady they might just write you a check!” he wrote.
He wrote the company a letter of his intent to take it to small claims court as requested in Microsoft’s EULA for Windows 10, which states that “we hope you’ll mail a Notice of Dispute and give us 60 days to try to work it out, but you don’t have to before go to small claims court.”
Microsoft didn’t put up much of a fight, as it turned out, but it initially wanted to give him a $500 Visa card and $150 in coupons from the Microsoft store. Worley rejected it and received $650, which he donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The only thing that surprises me about this story is that Worley is just the second person to do it. Perhaps people didn’t know how they could hold Microsoft accountable.
Well, Worley has provided them with a very neat guide to do just that