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Russia blocks Windows 10 and 11 downloads

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Russian users can reportedly no longer download Windows 10 and Windows 11 as the company continues its crackdown on Western technology.

Users who attempted to download ISOs of the latest iterations of Windows were greeted with “Error 404 messages”, according to BleepingComputer (opens in new tab).

Apparently, Russian users can still download the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool, however this generates the “0x80072F8F-0x20000 error” according to the website’s sources.

What’s going on?

It’s so far unclear whether these download issues stem from a technical error on the part of Microsoft, or whether this is an intentional decision.

The news comes as Microsoft is rapidly withdrawing from the country, the company has suspended new sales of both its products and its services, joining companies like Apple, Dell, Ericsson, and Nokia in doing so.

Is there a way around it?

Users located in Russia can still download the latest versions of Windows if they use a Virtual Private Network or VPN to cloak their location.

Regardless of whether this is an intentional action on the part of Microsoft, the firm has taken a clear pro-Ukraine stance publicly.

Microsoft claims it is working closely with cybersecurity officials in Ukraine to help defend the country's government and its infrastructure from Russian cyberattacks and says it  helped fend off a cyberattack launched against a major Ukrainian broadcaster.

Luckily for Russian Windows users, the US government has reportedly been heavily investing in support of 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 of skirting increasingly onerous online restrictions placed on them by their government.

Though the Russian government has taken a harsh stance on VPN usage, this hasn’t stopped the average user from flocking towards the tools.

The number of VPN users in Russia has apparently skyrocketed since the country's invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, with daily downloads of the 10 most popular VPNs jumped from around 15,000 in mid-February to 475,000 in March. 

Will McCurdy

Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.