In a nutshell: Microsoft seems to be blocking people in Russia from downloading its popular operating system, although one can easily get past the restriction by using a VPN service. It will be interesting to see if this is enough to push users to switch to Linux.
Users in Russia are currently unable to download Windows 10 and 11 ISOs and installation tools from Microsoft's servers. People first started noticing the issue over the weekend.
If someone with a Russian IP address tries to download the Windows ISO files directly from Microsoft's website, they get greeted with a message stating there was a problem with their request.
Attempting to download the Windows Update Assistant, Windows Media Creation Tool, or Windows 11 Installation Assistant also doesn't work, with users getting redirected to a webpage with an error message.
Additional confirmation: https://t.co/ROJawaNGS3— Catalin Cimpanu (@campuscodi) June 19, 2022
Unclear if it's intentional or just a server error, though.
Some people in Russia have reported that they are able to download the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool. However, it crashes on startup, generating a 0x80072F8F-0x20000 error.
Users claim that using a VPN service gets rid of these error messages, allowing them to download the files. Ironically, Russia's strict censorship laws block many VPN providers from operating in the country.
Microsoft hasn't yet issued a statement on the matter, so it's unclear if this is just a server error or a deliberate decision taken by the company to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In March, Microsoft stopped all new sales in the country, joining dozens of Western companies taking similar action. Earlier this month, the company announced it's winding down its business in Russia, resulting in over 400 employees getting laid off.