Downloads of the most recent versions of Windows have stopped in Russia, according to a new report from Bleeping Computer. Microsoft hasn’t publicly clarified why this is happening, though we’ve reached out to the company for comment and will update our story if they respond.
Over the weekend, Russian Windows users began noticing that they could not download Windows 10 and 11 from the company’s website. Users who tried to get ahold of the programs or updates were met with an error message: “404 - File or Directory not found.” TASS, Russia’s state owned media company, also tried to download the programs and could only successfully do so while using a VPN with servers located outside of Russia, effectively masking themselves as users elsewhere. People shared their frustrating experiences over Twitter, posting screenshots of the error messages they had received.
BleepingComputer says that it tested the Windows downloads by using a VPN server located in Russia and found downloads of the affected programs similarly blocked. It’s unclear whether Microsoft is intentionally blocking these downloads or if there is some sort of technical issue in Russian cyberspace at large causing this to happen.
If this is an intentional ban, it wouldn’t be unheard of. Droves of companies have pulled their services out of Russia over the past several months to protest the nation’s February invasion of Ukraine. In March, Microsoft joined that chorus and suspended new product sales in the country—announcing that it was seeking to “condemn...[Russia’s] unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion.” The firm has also announced plans to wind down its business operations in the country—a move that will likely involve layoffs for some 400 people. IBM let its entire Russian workforce go last week.
Microsoft has also spent recent months helping combat Russia’s more noxious digital operations. In April, the company announced an effort to disrupt “Strontium,” a hacker group with ties to Russian intelligence that had allegedly been targeting institutions in Ukraine, as well as entities in the U.S. and the European Union.