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Microsoft reportedly blocks Russian Windows 10 and Windows 11 downloads

Local media report issues from inside Russia but the company has yet to confirm if it was a deliberate move or merely an error

Microsoft has blocked the downloads of Windows 10 and Windows 11 for users inside of Russia without warning, local news outlets have said.

Copies of both operating systems (OS) are reportedly unavailable when users inside of Russia attempt to download them from official Microsoft servers, but downloading when using a VPN, with the IP address set to outside of Russia, allows the download to take place.

A correspondent from the Russian news agency TASS said that users were greeted with Error 404 messages, saying the file or directory was not found when trying to download either OS.

The news agency said Microsoft has not yet commented on the matter and the company did not immediately reply after IT Pro contacted them for clarity on the matter.

It is currently unclear if the situation is an “error”, as TASS reported, or if it was a deliberate decision taken by Microsoft.

The company took the decision early into the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to suspend sales in Russia and commit millions in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, as well as doubling all donations made by Microsoft employees.

“Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked, and unlawful invasion by Russia,” said Brad Smith, president and vice chair at Microsoft, at the time.

The initial reports about failing download have been corroborated by IT experts since TASS reported the issues on Sunday morning. 

Although Microsoft has not confirmed if the situation was a mistake or a deliberate act, the company has been vocal about its sustained efforts to stifle Russian forces against Ukraine since the conflict broke out earlier this year.

The company’s efforts have included threat intelligence - identifying new strains of cyber tools used by Russian threat actors, providing financial aid to Ukraine, and active attempts to stifle Russian state-affiliated media’s reach and state-sponsored cyber attacks.

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Big Tech companies have joined Microsoft in taking a stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine with numerous large companies such as Apple, Cisco, SAP, AMD, Intel, and more publicly pulling out of the region.

Other companies like Meta were already banned by Russia itself - the country has previously labelled the company ‘an extremist operation’.

According to research from earlier this year, the majority of technology workers are in favour of companies pulling out of Russia, although the level of support varied wildly depending on the business.

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