Microsoft to delete software that ‘scares’ users into paying for upgrades

Microsoft is clamping down on free software which it says “pressures” users into paying for unnecessary upgrades.

The technology giant says it has spotted an increase in free programs that purport to scan computers for errors and then use “alarming, coercive messages to scare customers into buying a premium version of the same program”.

Now the firm has revealed it is updating its evaluation criteria for software, and says it will detect and remove any programs which use such language.

Barak Shein, from Microsoft’s Windows Defender Security Research team, wrote in a blog post: “There has been an increase in 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.

Windows to improve software criteria (John Stillwell/PA)

“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.”

Shein revealed the updated criteria states that programs must not “display alarming or coercive messages or misleading content to pressure you into paying for additional services or performing superfluous actions”.

He added that from March 1, any programs found to violate the new rules would be removed from Windows.

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