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Microsoft Disables Windows 10 and 11 Downloads in Russia

Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Anyone resident in Russia wishing to download a Windows 10 or 11 install image or any of Microsoft's OS install tools will be faced with error messages, according to multiple reports and social media users. As these files are still available in other territories, the Windows OS ISO blockade appears to be a Microsoft policy decision.

To verify the social media complaints, Bleeping Computer used a VPN with the region set to Russia and was met with errors when it attempted to grab Microsoft's operating system ISO downloads. Depending on the files you wish to grab, and perhaps other variables like browser, attempts to grab these files will result in messages such as; "404 - File or Directory not found" or "There was a problem with your request."

It was also found that while it was still possible to download the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool, running it was futile. Upon running this tool, a cryptically code-numbered error message would pop up, asserting, "For some unknown reason, this tool failed to run on your computer."

(Image credit: @campuscodi on Twitter)

So, VPNs can be used to confirm the inability to download Windows OS installers in Russia. Turning the situation on its head, those resident in Russia that want or need to grab a Windows ISO (opens in new tab) can do so by using a VPN and selecting their VPN location to another territory. If you pick a 'random' location as an alternative, please be aware that there are reports of ISO download blockages in Kazakhstan, too.

The Russian authorities aren't keen on citizens using VPNs, but it is promised that VPN use isn't going to put any users in jeopardy – with regard to penalties.

Microsoft implemented a range of Russian sanctions back in early March. It officially announced the suspension of "all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia" at that time, without mentioning anything specific. It has also suspended GitHub accounts of developers working at sanctioned companies and announced hundreds of layoffs due to the scaling back of Russian operations.

While it hasn't said anything specific about Windows downloads, it isn't unexpected that Microsoft has removed these files in line with the March statement - and perhaps we shouldn't expect an additional statement. Microsoft has also previously stated that it will continue with existing Russian customer contractual obligations, but that covers the provision of Windows updates to existing users more than Windows ISO availability.

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • peachpuff
    Back to windows 95 you go!
    Reply
  • kaalus
    One of the few good things coming from Microsoft.
    Reply
  • lvt
    There should be plenty of Windows XP copies ready to install.
    Reply
  • DRagor
    No big deal. They will download it from somewhere else. Effectiveness of this is zero.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    DRagor said:
    No big deal. They will download it from somewhere else. Effectiveness of this is zero.
    I suspect a huge number of users were already just running pirated copies.

    Now, after blocking official downloads of Windows in Russia, 100% of installed copies going forward will be pirated.

    Success! LOL
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    DRagor said:
    No big deal. They will download it from somewhere else. Effectiveness of this is zero.
    True, but they at least had to make a public attempt.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    This is to inconvenient big firms, they will have a ton of trouble without getting security updates and possibly losing the ability to connect to others because of running older versions.

    Home users can use a VPN like shown in the article or just switch over to linux, it's gonna be a learning curve but it can be done, a big business can't do that without spending a huge amount of resources.
    Reply
  • 3tank
    Seems asine. Our politicians selectively sanction Russians depending on whether there was any shady dealings with them and that's aside from the fact these sanctions- like most do no harm do anyone but average citizens who may or may not endorse the saide regime all to legitimize war and more shady dealings that only benefit our elites.

    All this talk about "democracy" for a corrupt little fascist government that impoverished its own people and denied them democracy just as much- if not worse in some cases than Russia does.
    Reply
  • Grobe
    Not being talking politics, but isn't this a golden possibility to smuggle in the NSA version of Windows 10/11? If regular Russians uses pirated software, then why not the kreml and commanders do it as well?
    Reply
  • 3tank
    Grobe said:
    Not being talking politics, but isn't this a golden possibility to smuggle in the NSA version of Windows 10/11? If regular Russians uses pirated software, then why not the kreml and commanders do it as well?

    That's what i was thinking. All these companies pimp out our data against the collective interests of their consumers so you would think they would want to be up every Russian's you-know-what. Or if they'd rather dorect that at us then maybe that itself says more than enough
    Reply