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Issue #467: July 3–9, 2016

Microsoft is looming large in tech news this month, and there are a couple of issues that I want to cover, so I am going to deviate from I.G.T.M.’s normal Q&A format this week. This week will be all “A”, and the “Qs” will return next week.

Microsoft settled a small claims court case this week, brought against it by Teri Goldstein, a travel agent in California who claimed that an unsolicited and unwanted Windows 10 update to her business’s computer made her system virtually unusable. She sued for $10,000 (the maximum allowed in her jurisdiction’s small claims court) and won. Microsoft at first appealed the decision, but apparently thought better of the idea. A Microsoft spokesman stated “The company dropped its appeal to avoid the expense of further litigation.” Right. That’s rather uncharacteristic of Microsoft, but facts are facts. I’m telling you this tale for two reasons: First, to illustrate that it’s possible, however unlikely it seems, for the little guy to win a victory over the big guy – even one as big as mighty Microsoft. Second, I’m no lawyer, but don’t get any grand ideas of trying this on your own unless you have suffered a monetary loss, and you have absolutely meticulous records. The computer in question was the primary method that Teri used to conduct her business. The loss of the system occurred in the middle of her busiest season, and she was able to demonstrate through sales records from previous years that she suffered real, tangible, and substantial losses of her business income, and the court sided with her. It seems far less likely that someone would win a similar case claiming interruption of their usage of YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, or even ItsGeekToMe.co. You can visit tinyurl.com/IGTM-0467B to read more about the case, and even see the court’s settlement document.

In other Microsoft news, I feel compelled to remind you that Microsoft’s offer of free upgrades to Windows 10 is set to expire on July 29th. Now, I know there are a lot of upset people out there who are balking at being “forced” to update their computer. Jason Perlow of ZDNET summed it up better than I could have, saying “My Facebook and Twitter feed is littered with hemming and hawing over prompting to upgrade. Refusal to capitulate to the prompt that it needs to be done, anger over invasion of one’s personal space. Desperate pleading to be left alone, despondence over presumed unnecessary workday and life disruption.”

It’s understandable. I too, sometimes wish I could go back to the days of Windows XP, which had finally achieved a good, stable platform when they rudely yanked the rug out from under it. But things inexorably march forward. Geek things. Things like device interfaces, drive capacities, network technology, and malware capabilities. As much as you’d like it to, your PC doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and with each tick of the clock, its vulnerability to any one of thousands of types of issues increases. You can no longer afford to just ignore issues like this and expect them to go away, nor can you just wait until “something happens” (data breach, catastrophic hardware failure, etc.) without risking exponentially more headaches than a relatively simple operating system upgrade.

Is the upgrade risk-free? It is not. I’ve dealt with several people who have had issues with the upgrade. Statistically speaking, however, the chances of something going catastrophically wrong during an upgrade are far smaller than the chances of trying to force an old operating system to run an old computer hooked to old peripherals.  

I think Microsoft made a pretty good offer allowing people to upgrade for free. You’ve had a year for the bugs to be shaken out. There have been maintenance releases already, and the “Anniversary Edition” is scheduled to be released at the same time as the free upgrade expires. With all that said, if you think you absolutely must, here is a link to an article that may help you hold off the inevitable for just a little longer: tinyurl.com/IGTM-0467C. Good luck, and happy computing!

 


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