Technology is ideally designed to be freeing to humans, allowing them to be more productive and gain a degree of control over their lives. But it can also turn manipulative and controlling.

Three Florida men, in a lawsuit against Microsoft, are charging the firm used deceptive and coercive tactics in order to get them to upgrade to Windows 10, resulting in damage to their computer and financial loss.

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Microsoft accused of downloading software onto computers without permission, deceptive practices

Al Khafaji, Ahmad Abdulreda and Robert Stahl all where happy running Windows 7 and 8.1. Like many Windows users, the “advances” in Windows 10 didn’t appear like advances at all. In fact, the major issues, the computer mouse system freeze, continues to be an un-addressed problem. The new version of Windows, while it does have some benefits, offers mostly cosmetic changes and in fact makes saving and finding files more difficult.

For whatever reason, the trio did not want Windows 10 installed on their system. Microsoft had other ideas.

The lawsuit says Microsoft took unprecedented steps to gain adoption of Windows 10, unauthorized steps that impacted the user’s computer. Those steps included downloading the upgrade in the background to certain computers, setting the upgrade to automatically begin without additional user approval, as well as pre-scheduling the upgrade process itself without the user initiating it.

Perhaps most deceptive, the upgrade process was authorized when a user clicked on a red “X” in a pop-up window. Clicking on an X is often the sign to close out an application. Microsoft converted this universal signal into the authorization for a download is a violation of user interface design conventions and Microsoft’s own design guidelines for third-party developers, Computer World magazine noted. The story was first reported by GeekWire.

The application was downloaded onto the computers of Khafaji, Abdulreda and Stahl and caused loss of data and significant time and aggravation on the part of the defendants to remedy the situation.

Microsoft accused of monopolistic anti-trust violation in forcing unwanted upgrades

The trio of litigants, who are seeking class action status for their case, claim Microsoft was leveraging monopolistic practices and violated anti-trust law through the forced upgrades.

“Microsoft engaged in a reckless and negligent premise with catastrophic consequences for some of Defendant’s customers whose devices were rendered useless and incapable of normal recovery operations,” the complaint said. “Plaintiffs were coerced into adopting Windows 10 or had Windows 10 installed in various unintentional manners with subsequent damage to their computers after which Plaintiffs sustained unnecessary and avoidable stress, confusion, loss of time and significant monetary damage all at the hands of Defendant.”

The case could benchmark the human versus computer conflict that was portended in the Terminator movie series, a point made in the legal complaint. “The Plaintiff’s Windows 10 marketing technique is reminiscent of the story line in science fiction films like Terminator which have a scenario where the computers start functioning autonomously,” the complaint ominously noted.