Russian users can no longer download Windows 10 and Windows 11 as the company continues its crackdown on Western technology.
Users who tried to download ISOs from the latest iterations of Windows were met with “404 error messages,” according to BleepingComputer (opens in new tab).
Apparently, Russian users can still download Windows 11 media creation tool, however this generates “error 0x80072F8F-0x20000” according to the website sources.
So far it’s unclear whether these download issues stem from a technical error on Microsoft’s part or whether this is an intentional decision.
The news comes as Microsoft is rapidly withdrawing from the country, the company has suspended further sales of its products and services, joining the likes of Apple, Dell, Ericsson and Nokia.
Is there a way around this?
Users located in Russia can still download the latest versions of Windows if they use a virtual private network or VPN to hide their location.
Regardless of whether this is an intentional action on Microsoft’s part, the company has publicly taken a clear pro-Ukraine stance.
Microsoft says it is working closely with cybersecurity officials in Ukraine to help defend the country’s government and its infrastructure against Russian cyberattacks, and says it helped prevent a cyberattack launched against a major Ukrainian broadcaster.
Fortunately for Russian Windows users, the US government has invested heavily in supporting the VPN space in the country.
VPN developers such as nthLink, Psiphon and Lantern have seen their funding increase rapidly as Russians increasingly turn to VPN as a way to circumvent the increasingly onerous online restrictions imposed on them by their government.
While the Russian government has taken a tough stance towards VPN usage, that hasn’t stopped the average user from migrating to the tools.
The number of VPN users in Russia has apparently skyrocketed since the invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, with daily downloads of the 10 most popular VPNs jumping from around 15,000 in mid-February to 475,000 in March.