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I want to learn about software liability but most articles on the internet are very generic. So I am asking this specific question to learn by example.

Let's assume after a Windows update printers are gone because of a bug in the Windows code. (This happened to me multiple times on different PC.)

Can I force Microsoft to re-add them in court? Or is it me who has to fix it?

I am living in Germany and this is only a hypothetical question.

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    Can you clarify what you mean by "printers are gone"? Do you mean that a particular configured instance of a printer has vanished from your list of available printers or do you mean Microsoft no longer provides a driver for a particular kind of printer? Jan 6 at 21:38
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    Can you include anything your Windows license says about whether there is a warranty that Windows will work properly? Often software is sold without any official representation that it will work/that it will not constantly misbehave.
    – interfect
    Jan 7 at 0:15
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    Canb you clarify "Windows Update"? One answer seems to assume you mean changing major versions (i.e. updating from Windows 8 to 10), while I understand it to be just using the Windows Update function and installing suggested minor patches. Sine the latest version of Windows can even change major versions through the "Windows Update" feature, I think that leads to confusion. Maybe you can make up a hypothetical example with version numbers?
    – nvoigt
    Jan 7 at 7:45
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    @nvoigt Let's say the printer disappears when upgrading Windows 10 22H1 to 22H2. As I wrote the blame lies at Microsoft because there is a bug in the MS Windows 10 code. Thought that was clear.
    – zomega
    Jan 7 at 8:11
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    Add one company I worked, when everyone arrived in the morning, the server was gone. Didn’t respond at all. No errors, nothing. Then after an hour someone went into the server room and found the server was gone :-(
    – gnasher729
    Jan 7 at 10:36

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I'm assuming for this answer that you and the sellers of the Windows license and the printer are all in .

Who purchased what, and when?

  • Once upon a time, you purchased a Windows license, directly or with computer hardware. This comes with a right to receive upgrades, and Microsoft makes it increasingly difficult not to upgrade to the latest version.
  • Once upon a time, you purchased a printer. With it came either a CD-ROM or floppy disk with the driver, or the license to download it from the web.

The Microsoft documentation almost certainly did not specify that it would work with your printer.

The printer documentation almost certainly specified for which Windows version is was written. If the printer driver does not work with the specified Windows version, you can go the seller of the printer and return it as defective, subject to the usual rules. If the problem came only after a major Windows version upgrade, then you are trying to use the printer in the "wrong" operating system.

If the printer should work with the major Windows version, the question becomes if you have the right to a driver update from the seller or manufacturer of the printer. There was a change in law (§327f BGB, §327a BGB) in this regard in 2022, which requires sellers to provide update for a reasonable time. The law did not try to spell the duration out for various classes of products, and I do not know if there are legal precedents for printers yet. In my personal opinion, a customer would reasonably expect a printer to work for several years, but not decades. Between that range, the lawyers would argue.

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  • I have never had a printer specify the exact Windows version it works with. It commonly says "Works with Windows 10" (for example, pick any major version) and the Windows version says "10" as a major version before and after an update. I cannot really follow how, still using "Windows 10" with a device claiming to be compatible with "Windows 10", it is me using it wrong.
    – nvoigt
    Jan 7 at 7:24
  • @nvoigt, the OP might be on Windows 11 by now, and the printer specs might be claiming Windows 8 compatibility ... most consumers would not worry about that, until things don't work "out of the box."
    – o.m.
    Jan 7 at 7:28
  • Sure, they might be. Or they might be on Windows 10 and the printer claims "Works with Windows 10" and the user does a "Windows Update", that means they installed the latest patches without changing the major version. So they are still on Windows 10 and suddenly their printer does not work anymore. We don't know. It would be cool if you could specify that your answer depends on major version updates or incompatibilities from the start. Alternatively, maybe you can explain what happens in the other case, without major version updates?
    – nvoigt
    Jan 7 at 7:43
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    @nvoigt, I thought I did that, by pointing out the post-2022 law. It does not apply to very obsolete tech, but it would apply to relatively newly purchased stuff. I'll expand on that.
    – o.m.
    Jan 7 at 9:47
  • Looks good, thanks.
    – nvoigt
    Jan 7 at 10:05

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