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14 Jan 2023

Paul Alcorn, Tom's Hardware

Russia: Intel & Microsoft allegedly quietly unblock software downloads and updates, incl. cos. comments

Intel quietly resumes Russia support, unblocks software downloads, 14 January 2023

Multiple reports in Russian media assert that Intel, which ceased doing business inside Russia and Belarus due to US sanctions levied due to the Ukraine war, has resumed allowing driver and software downloads inside the country. In the immediate aftermath of the U.S. sanctions, Russian users were previously unable to download Intel software. These reports also indicate that Microsoft has now quietly re-enabled automatic Windows 11 updates for Russian users.

"There have been no recent changes to our operations," an Intel spokesperson told Tom's Hardware - an important qualifier...

"Intel continues to comply with all applicable export regulations and sanctions in the countries in which it operates. This includes compliance with the sanctions and export controls against Russia and Belarus issued by the US and allied nations. Access to resources that meet driver update needs, such as the Intel Download Center and Intel Download Support Assistant (IDSA), are part of Intel’s warranty obligations."

Yet sources close to the matter tell us that Intel did initially block downloads in Russia for the software mentioned in the statement; the company restored access in the latter portion of last year. That justifies Intel's statement that the changes weren't "recent." The Intel Driver and Support Assistant (DSA) downloads are now freely available to Russian users due to Intel's warranty obligations...

The reports also claim that Microsoft has now quietly resumed allowing Windows 11 updates within the country even though it doesn't allow downloading the operating system. Microsoft responded to our queries about re-enabled Windows 11 updates with the following statement to Tom's Hardware

“As we shared previously, we have stopped all new product and services sales in Russia and are complying with sanctions from the EU, UK and US.” – a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft's statement doesn't address the issue of whether or not it has re-enabled updates for Russian users — it only pertains to sales of new products and services — and the provided blog post also doesn't mention Microsoft's policy for Windows Update, which was previously disabled. We pointed this out to Microsoft and asked for specific clarification about its Windows Update Policy. The company said it has nothing further to share at this time...

Part of the following timelines

Ukraine: Global outrage over Russian invasion leads to sanctions, demands for businesses to divest

Ukraine invasion: Crucial role of tech companies highlighted after Russian 'act of aggression'

Ukraine invasion: Crucial role of tech companies highlighted after Russian 'act of aggression'