Microsoft Seems To Be Blocking Windows 11 And 10 Downloads In Russia

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Shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, many tech companies announced that they would be suspending sales to the country. Among the companies that made these announcements were AMD, Intel, TSMC, NVIDIA, Apple, Cisco, Oracle, IBM, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Microsoft. Since this initial flurry of announcements, various companies have continued to impose stricter limitations on Russia. While unannounced, it seems that Microsoft further tightened its restrictions on Russia over the weekend.

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Russian News Agency TASS notice on Telegram

On Sunday, TASS, the largest state-owned Russian news agency, published a notice to Telegram saying that “Attempts to install Windows 11 and Windows 10 from Microsoft's website end with an error” (translated by DeepL). The Telegram message also notes that the download completes without issue while connected to a VPN.

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Error message that appears when trying to download Windows disk image with a Russian IP address

We were able to confirm this finding by connecting to a VPN server located in Russia and attempting to download Windows from the Microsoft website. Not only were we unable to download Windows 10 and 11 installers, we were also unable to Windows 8.1, Windows 10 IoT Core, and the Media Feature Pack for Windows 10. Once we switched back to a US-based IP address, we had no problem downloading these installers, even while using the Russian-language version of the website.

While connected to the Russian VPN server, clicking the download button for the Windows 11 Installation Assistant redirected us to a download page that displayed a 404 error. We were able to download the Windows 11 installation media tool, but, the tool throws an error with the code 0x80072F8F-0x20000 when run. The error dialog says in Russian, “For some unknown reason, this tool failed to run on your computer.” All other download options displayed the error shown in the image above.

Microsoft has yet to make a statement confirming that this behavior is intentional, so we’ll have to see whether the company is purposefully blocking Russian users from downloading Windows installation tools. Ironically, while it seems that Russians can connect to a VPN server located outside of Russia to get around this restriction, the government has banned the use of fifteen different VPN services in order to prevent citizens from connecting to the internet without going through the Federal Government Information System.