Consumers sue Microsoft, allege Windows 10 upgrade destroyed data, damaged PCs

'Claims are without merit,' Microsoft counters

Three people from Illinois last week sued Microsoft, claiming that the free Windows 10 upgrade they had installed on their PCs caused "data loss and damage to their computers."

Lawyers for the trio asked a Chicago federal court Thursday to grant the case class-action status, which would allow other Americans to join the litigation.

"Many consumers have had their hard drives fail because of the Windows 10 installation," alleged the complaint. "Many consumers have had their existing software and data rendered inoperable by the Windows 10 installation."

All three of the plaintiffs asserted that after accepting the free Windows 10 upgrade -- a one-year deal that ran from 2015 to 2016 -- some data on their Windows PCs had been destroyed. One said that she had had to purchase a new personal computer after the one upgraded to Windows 10 was crippled.

Howard Goldberg of Highland Park, Ill. -- a suburb north of Chicago -- had a particularly tough time with the Windows 10 upgrade. "After three attempts to download Windows 10, each of which tied up his computer for extended periods of time, Goldberg's computer was damaged, and Windows 10 was not actually downloaded and functional," the complaint read. "Goldberg contacted Microsoft about the problems, and was told his computer was out of warranty, and that he would have to pay them for any assistance with the problems. Goldberg therefore had to have somebody repair the computer to make it functional."

Many of the plaintiffs' complaints resembled the general malaise widely reported during the one-year upgrade plan. For example, the lawsuit cited the insistent on-screen upgrade nag notices Microsoft placed on consumers' Windows 7 and 8.1 desktops, the limited-time window when the PC could be rolled back to its previous operating system, and the shifty reversal of the close-window operation in a critical dialog box.

"We believe the plaintiffs' claims are without merit," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. Microsoft also pointed out that "customers had the option not to upgrade to Windows 10" and added that users also could contact the company's free technical support.

Others have taken Microsoft to court over Windows 10. In July, three Florida men alleged that the company "coerced" them into upgrading to Windows 10 and that the "unintentional" upgrades damaged their PCs. That case was dismissed last month.

Also in 2016, a California woman took Microsoft to small claims court, where she was awarded $10,000 after she convinced a judge that an unauthorized upgrade to Windows 10 had crippled her work PC.

The lawsuit filed last week asked that Microsoft pay both actual and punitive damages.

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