Microsoft Promises To Delete Software That Scares People Into Upgrading

Microsoft say that ‘bullying software’ such as cleaners and optimizers that try to ‘scare’ PC users into paying for upgrades, will be detected and removed.

Starting March 1st, Windows Defender Antivirus and other associated Microsoft security products will classify programs that display bullying messages and use scare-tactic marketing as unwanted software, and will delete them, the company wrote in a blog post.

According to the Microsoft Blog, there has been a worrying increase in recent times of “free versions of programs that purport to scan computers for various errors, and then use alarming, coercive messages to scare customers into buying a premium version of the same program.

“The paid version of these programs, usually called cleaner or optimizer applications, purportedly fixes the problems discovered by the free version. We find this practice problematic because it can pressure customers into making unnecessary purchase decisions.”

Microsoft to end ‘alarming, or coercive’ messages that can ‘scare customers’ into paid upgrades.

Evaluation criteria

Microsoft has said that in order to prevent pressurized scare tactics they have updated their ‘evaluation criteria’ to specify that programs and apps will no longer be allowed to use ‘alarming or coercive’ messaging that can effectively bully its users into unwanted actions, such as buying a premium version of the software.

The tech giant behind Windows and MS Office, have said that there new criteria will identify both malware (as it does already) and unwanted software. ‘Bullying software’ will from March onward be detected and removed.

Microsoft have said that Unwanted ‘Bullying’ Software has some of the following characteristics:
  • Reports errors in an exaggerated or alarming manner about the user’s system and requires the user to pay for fixing the errors or issues monetarily or by performing other actions such as taking a survey, downloading a file, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
  • Suggests that no other actions will correct the reported errors or issues
  • Requires the user to act within a limited period of time to get the purported issue resolve

Customer protection

The Microsoft Blog also said that “Customer protection is our top priority. We adjust, expand, and update our evaluation criteria based on customer feedback and in order to capture the latest developments in unwanted software and other threats. We encourage our customers to submit programs that exhibit unwanted behaviors related to coercive messaging, or other unwanted or malicious behaviors in general.”

You can read the full Microsoft Cloud Blog post, here.

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