Russians Blocked From Downloading Microsoft Windows 10, 11

Close up of a Laptop Screen with Windows 11 Logo

People in Russia are currently unable to download ISOs and installation tools for Microsoft’s Windows 10 and 11, according to the Russian news agency, TASS. Users who try to download the files receive an error message.

Earlier this month, Microsoft said it will significantly scale down its business in Russia. However, in March, the company said it will not prevent customers in Russia from accessing its services.

At the moment, it is unclear if Microsoft has officially blocked Russia-based users from downloading its operating systems. The company is yet to respond to news outlets seeking comments on the issue.

What We Know So Far

Several Twitter users confirmed they were unable to download Windows 10 and 11 installation files after TASS reported the issue on June 19. According to the Russian news outlet, users get an error message when they try to download the installation files and related tools.

Bleeping Computer confirmed this after using a VPN server in Russia to attempt to download Windows 10 and 11 ISOs, Windows 10 Update Assistant, Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, and the Windows 11 Installation Assistant. They received an error message saying “404 – File or Directory not found.”

Like many global technology giants, Microsoft has taken a strong stance against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The company has significantly reduced its operations in Russia and has suspended the sale of new products and services in the country.

Microsoft’s cybersecurity wing has released information about Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine, including a malware attack on Ukrainian government websites before the military conflict began.

Despite its opposition to the war, in a letter to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in March, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company has a “moral responsibility” to protect civilians and would continue to make its products and services available to hospitals, schools, and other non-sanctioned clients in Russia.

“Depriving these institutions of software updates and services could put at risk the health and safety of civilians, including children and the elderly,” Smith wrote.

Using a VPN to Download Windows 10 and 11 in Russia

The good news is that people in Russia can still download Windows ISOs and installation tools using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN allows you to bypass geo-restrictions and access blocked content online. With a VPN, you can change your IP address to make it appear as though you’re in a different region, like a city in the UK or the United States. This makes it possible to download the blocked Windows ISOs and installation tools.

Russia is notorious for blocking major VPN providers, such as NordVPN. The country has also blocked several U.S.-based services, such as Google News and YouTube, since the start of the Ukraine conflict. This has led to an increase in demand for VPNs in the country.

Fortunately, if you’re based in Russia, you can still access some leading VPNs such as Surfshark, CyberGhost, and ExpressVPN. Follow the easy step-by-step guide below to download Windows 11 using a VPN.

Step-by-step guide: Use a VPN to Download Windows 11 in Russia

  1. Choose a VPN provider. We recommend using a top VPN provider like Surfshark. Surfshark is one of the top-rated VPNs that’s still available in Russia, and it is quite affordable.
  2. Create an account. Head over to Surfshark’s website and sign-up.
  3. Download Surfshark, or choose another VPN provider, such as CyberGhost or ExpressVPN.
  4. Connect to a VPN server in a country like the UK or the United States. Surfshark has a number of servers to choose from.
  5. Head over to the Windows 11 Download Site. Once you’re connected to the server, you can download the Windows 11 ISO and installation tools from the official Microsoft website without any issues.

Russia has blocked the use of major card providers and PayPal, but all three of the VPNs we mentioned above offer alternative payment options. For more information, we recommend checking out our easy guide to getting a VPN in Russia.

Technology policy researcher
Prateek is a technology policy researcher with a background in law. His areas of interest include data protection, privacy, digital currencies, and digital literacy. Outside of his research interests, Prateek is an avid reader and is engaged in projects on sustainable farming practices in India.