back to article Russians say they can grab software from Intel again

People in Russia can reportedly once again download drivers and some other software from Intel and Microsoft, which both withdrew from the nation after its invasion of Ukraine. Be aware that folks and companies in Russia have to take a somewhat circuitous route to get those files, according to Moscow's CNews. The situation, …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Warranty obligations ?

    You only have those when you risk being sued.

    I don't see that Russian citizens or corporations are in a position to sue anybody outside of Russia - although that might be a brilliant excuse for getting out of the country at this time.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Warranty obligations ?

      Also any contract worth the paper its on should have vis major clauses, like when the country becomes a terrorist state and threatens attack with nuclear weapons.

      Seems like Intel is just desperate for money. Not a great look.

      Hopefully shareholders take notice and dump it.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Warranty obligations ?

        While that would be nice, it's hard to list every situation where you might want to cut off services. Some contracts will manage this with some kind of generic clause about complying with international sanctions or sanctions of some particular host country. Others might add in a "at our discretion we may cut off services" clause, but that's less common because customers can interpret that as "when we feel like it whether there's an external reason or we just want more money". If you don't do one of those, you have a hard time implementing that in a contract, and customers can sue you in countries that will enforce a contract as written.

    2. LateAgain

      Re: Warranty obligations ?

      Ha!

      Doesn't stop everyone 'disapearing' downloads for older equipment.

      *£_#@ing marketing should NEVER be allowed near a support site.

    3. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: Warranty obligations ?

      "I don't see that Russian citizens or corporations are in a position to sue anybody outside of Russia"

      It ain't that simple, Hoss.

      1) Intel and Microsoft almost certainly still have property, companies, bank accounts and employees in Russia. It takes YEARS to make everyone redundant and wind up companies, esp in current conditions. They are exposed in Russia. There may also be local distributors or intermediaries

      2) There are many foreign courts that will enforce debt judgments issued by Russian courts.

      3) There is nothing to stop Russian licensees suing in foreign courts (if the contract allows for it).

      If "we" want US companies to stop trading with Russia, "we" should make it illegal for them to do so. Most trade with Russia remains perfectly legal - the sanctions are still pretty narrow in scope.

    4. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Warranty obligations ?

      Not exactly fair to Yevgeny, Dmitri, and Kalinka who paid top ruble for kit and software to be abandoned just because their fearless leader hiding in the Kremlin decided to go rogue.

      I've always wondered what I would stand to do if the South African regime decided to declare war on the West on the side of Mother Russia and Belarus. I most definitely would not support such a decision. But then that regime was not voted into power by me and they don't speak on my behalf.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Insert backdoor

    ...here.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Insert backdoor

      Was that an offer?

      Asking for a friend.

  3. Necrohamster Bronze badge
    Devil

    "Warranty obligations"

    This is clearly bulls**t as contractual obligations don't trump national and international law (no to mention the Intel EULA probably excludes support for sanctioned countries). What are Russians going to do about it anyway? Sue?

    "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," Microsoft told The Register in a statement.

    The software company I work for cut all access to existing and new products and services to Russia and Russia-controlled entities when sanctions were imposed last year. Refunds will be issued if, or when, sanctions are ever lifted.

    Somehow I doubt that Intel and Microsoft are alone in pandering to Russia...

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: "Warranty obligations"

      >What are Russians going to do about it anyway? Sue?

      It opens the door for wholesale -- and legal -- piracy. The key word in your quote form Microsoft -- "new".

      Honoring licensing agreements even during wartime has a long history. One of the earliest was the payment made by the UK to Germany after WW1 for royalties on a Krupp patented artillery fuse.

      (Given the requirements, reliability and behavior of a lot of the latest software from these large companies I reckon we're probably doing them a favor by not selling them the stuff.)

      1. Necrohamster Bronze badge

        Re: "Warranty obligations"

        Russia effectively legalised software piracy last year as a reaction to sanctions, so it doesn’t make sense for any Western software company to business with .ru in any case. Unless there’s some backdoors shenanigans going on…of course

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dodgy Russian links

    Send then round the mill.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its money!

    I await the "we had to sell them the latest _____ because the one they had was EOL and no longer in support, and they had a support contract"

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Think about it.

    Would you rather have the Russians download patches ...or another 100 million devices added to a botnet?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Think about it.

      The more interesting questions are for the Russians. Would they rather download patches from the enemy or carry on using software whose vulnerabilities have now been published? And since they were clearly cut off, why are they now being offered patches?

    2. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      Re: Think about it.

      I know of a few companies that use IP geolocation data to block all traffic to or from China, so I wonder if the same is now happening with Russian traffic.

    3. Necrohamster Bronze badge

      Re: Think about it.

      Malware created by Russians doesn’t infect Russian computers. They check things like keyboard layout and public IPs. Think about it.

  7. man_iii
    Devil

    DeepState intel

    If you are Russian and downloading software from commercial entities not on Russian soil I think you should be ready for some kind of "malware" to get you somewhere down the line. It would be funny if Putler runs Windows and MS patch Tuesday nukes his PC

  8. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Trouble

    Does it mean Intel is in financial trouble if they decided to risk their reputation and support the terrorist state of Russia?

    If I was a shareholder I'd dump Intel shares like a hot potato.

    I guess for many pecunia non olet.

    Shame on you Intel. You have lost your reputation.

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: Trouble

      Be realistic. The Russian government can almost certainly afford at least one VPN, while the average citizen likely finds it quite challenging to purchase access from a foreign provider. Where is the benefit to not patching security flaws in privately owned Russian computers, with zero impact on the government ones?

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Trouble

        One of the goal of sanctions is to make lives of average citizens difficult, to get them snap out of the propaganda they are under.

        Russian terrorist government is of course doing all they can to re-frame it into "evil west is doing this to you, not us" - and hoping they will support the mass killings and assault on sovereign country.

        And to be frank - if they don't snap out and do something about their government, then even more sanctions are necessary until they understand that the way they country is behaving, they are no longer welcome to the civilised world and they can't enjoy the things we have developed.

        If I was an Intel employee, I'd feel dirty knowing that some of my work is being used by terrorists to kill innocent people or to support people who support it.

        1. Oglethorpe

          Re: Trouble

          Working within that premise, is it more important that the Russian people are made to feel the effects of sanctions or that they hopefully put pressure on their government to withdraw? A computer may be a luxury item but unlike, for example, a luxury car, it has the ability to educate.

          I appreciate that computers are muti use technologies, so supplying new hardware that might be used in weapons is probably a bad idea. At the same time, existing computers are probably the best way to reach ordinary Russian citizens with information beyond what their state controlled media provides.

          I think it's far too simplistic to assume that the option which produces the most suffering or inconvenience for Russian citizens and the option that most quickly ends the terrorising of Ukraine is always one and the same.

  9. mevets

    Punish

    Is being locked out of MS updates really a punishment? If we really wanted to fuck them, we would force all their devices to update to 11...

  10. hi-tower

    View from Russia

    Intel CPUs was always gray imported in Russia, my estimate is 70% of expensive units come from alternative sources. Thanks to Intel dumb commercial policy - no discounts virtually to anyone.

    MS updates for Windows are working as before 24.02.2022, no changes spotted.

    1. mevets

      Re: View from Russia

      My estimate is closer to 30%, and I have a room filled with rescued cats to backup my claim.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Profit before ethics

    "Also, we note it's generally a good idea to let people download drivers from official sources rather than unofficial ones where they can be riddled with malware."

    I thought the point of sanctions was to have consequences?

    I expect that Intel and MS have noticed the Russia sized hole in their balance sheets by now, and don't like it. Those "parallel imports" pay just as well as any other sale and look a lot more attractive to customers when they get product support. Clearly the likes of Baikal and Loonsong are being seen as real threats to their long term market dominance...

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: Profit before ethics

      "I thought the point of sanctions was to have consequences?"

      It seems pretty stupid for one of those consequences being to effectively turn over a large number of computers to criminals and state-sponsored cyberwarfare groups. Modern malware rarely exists simply to disrupt, it's far too profitable to turn it towards an illicit purpose; this is why bounties are paid on exploits.

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Profit before ethics

      But as stated elsewhere in this thread what practical impact does it have? Ordinary Russian people can't get new chips and software. Meanwhile in the rest of the world these are essentially unregulated commodities. The Russian government and military can pick these up with very little hassle.

      Who is the argument with exactly?

  12. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Auto-update

    all their Windows 7 machines to Windows 11 (or does that count as a war crime?)

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: Auto-update

      Updating to Windows 10 is a war crime, Windows 11 is cruel and unusual punishment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Auto-update

        I'm just glad nobody's sadistic enough to suggest Windows 8.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reality is starting to bite...

    The sanctions haven't had the effect on Russia that the West hoped. In fact, in many ways, they've backfired, with ordinary Europeans in particular being lumbered with sky rocketing energy prices and initiating a cost of living crisis. Clearly the megacorps are losing patience as well and have cut the virtue signalling wanting to go back to business as usual.

    Now that the military situation is starting to turn once again in Russia's favour, it's time to stop pumping hugely costly NATO weapons systems into Ukraine, depleting the West's valuable defensive stockpiles in the process, and get around the negotiating table. There's simply no way that the neocon's plan to bleed Russia dry via the Ukrainian battlefields can succeed with the global south, China, India and even Turkey standing firm with Putin.

    When did the West become so bad at realpolitik?

    1. Platelet

      Re: Reality is starting to bite...

      Okay Boris

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reality is starting to bite...

      Putler's economy is collapsing, Ruzzia is running out of ammo, and all of those weapons we're sending are doing their job defeating Ruzzia with zero NATO lives lost.

      Negotiate? Now? Screw that. Send more weapons. Give Ukraine F16s, ATACMS, Reapers, and Abrams tanks. And uncuff them, let Ukraine use western weapons to hit any military target within Ruzzia itself. And where the sanctions are leaky like this, fix the sanctions.

      The only thing appeasement would accomplish now is make the bigger war that'll inevitably follow that much worse. Stop trying to emulate Chamberlain.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Reality is starting to bite...

        Western politicians who are against delivering help to Ukraine should be closely investigated.

        The simple fact is that they want Russia to win, so they can continue to line their pockets with bribes.

        They also don't want any kompromats about them to leak, so they have to keep saying whatever their case worker is telling them to say.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Reality is starting to bite...

          Is buying politicians covered by sanctions?

          What about ones you already own, surely you're free to keep using them - after all you paid for them.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reality is starting to bite...

          Western politicians who are against delivering help to Ukraine should be closely investigated.

          The simple fact is that they want Russia to win, so they can continue to line their pockets with bribes.

          The level of hawkishness in the comments on this forum is simply astonishing. I'll remind you that Russia is a nuclear armed state. Are you seriously suggesting the West should escalate to the point of WW3 over Ukraine, a non-NATO member?

          Even during the height of the Cold War views such as yours were (fortunately) held by an extreme minority. I will also remind you that those calling for peace were absolutely vindicated in almost every single one of America's misguided conflicts since WW2 including, but not limited to, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan.

      2. 9Rune5

        Re: Reality is starting to bite...

        Ruzzia is running out of ammo

        I thought their ammo production was largely domestic?

        A few weeks ago the news reported russians might produce their own version of the drones they have been buying from Iran.

        Send more weapons.

        I struggle to see better alternatives, so no argument from me.

        I'm amazed that the ukrainians aren't doing more to Russian infrastructure. Half of Russia's energy production comes from natural gas. Why aren't they attacking gas powered plants? None nearby?

        1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

          Re: Reality is starting to bite...

          I'm amazed that the ukrainians aren't doing more to Russian infrastructure. Half of Russia's energy production comes from natural gas. Why aren't they attacking gas powered plants? None nearby?

          Because it is against the laws of war to attack civilian objects.

          The Russians are not following the Geneva conventions, and the mere fact that you ask is show that their behaviour is renormalising the expected behaviour of combatants. Which is to be regretted.

          The fact that the Russians are illegally attacking civilian infrastructure does not give carte blanche for the Ukrainians to do the same to Russian civilian infrastructure. Two wrongs do not make a right.

          Destroying stockpiles of ammunition; military equipment; and buildings used as barracks is within the laws of war. Which is what the Ukrainians have been doing, and continue to do.

          Russia's contempt for the conventions is one good reason that Putin's invasion should not be allowed to succeed. In 'total war', everybody loses.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Reality is starting to bite...

            >Because it is against the laws of war to attack civilian objects.

            But as long as they claim they are merely de-housing civilians by fire bombing cities it's legit

            1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

              Re: Reality is starting to bite...

              Nope.

              Because international law is not fixed, but changes over time, like all laws.

              So what was legal to do in World War Two is in some cases no longer legal.

              Which is why (in part) the US doesn't go around carpet bombing cities with massed B52 raids, and why Western nations engaged in various wars over the last 2 decades have gone to great care to restrict the use of air dropped munitions within cities to smart weapons - single laser guided bombs, dual-mode Brimstone missiles, etc, or even using non-explosive weapons that rely on kinetic energy - all to create a localised effect that meets the current requirements to not endanger civilians (beyond a reasonable level of risk consistent with clear and real military need).

              Combined with rules of engagement on weapons release that means that even when the target is identified, sometimes the shot is not taken, since the likely civilian casualties would make weapon release potentially illegal.

              Which doesn't mean that no civilian deaths have occurred, but shows an attempt to comply with the law.

              Whereas the Russians are currently showing contempt for the law.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reality is starting to bite...

        Putler's economy is collapsing, Ruzzia is running out of ammo, and all of those weapons we're sending are doing their job defeating Ruzzia with zero NATO lives lost.

        The claim that Russia is running out of ammo has been a perpetual fixture in this conflict since March 2022. In reality, the latest volley of 30+ missiles has struck targets all across Ukraine today, including in Kiev, Kharkiv and Odessa.

        Meanwhile, Russia is making progress in the Donbas, the key battlefield, taking Soledar and most probably nearby Bakhmut in the coming weeks. Once that city falls there will be just one more line of Ukrainian defence in the region before the Dnieper.

        Sure, all this is happening without a NATO life being lost (aside from the much-publicised mercenaries). But at what cost to the Ukrainians? How is it moral for endless waves of poorly-trained conscripts to be thrown into this meat grinder?

        To paraphrase Obama in 2016: Ukraine is a core Russian interest but not an American one, so Russia will always be able to maintain escalatory dominance there.

        We need to go back to that kind of thinking and reach a negotiated settlement.

        1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

          Re: Reality is starting to bite...

          If Donbas is the key battlefield, that is only because the Russians have been defeated at Odessa (never able to reach it), Kiev (stalled in its outskirts then forced to withdraw), Kharkiv (routed), and Kherson (forced to withdraw).

          The attack on Bakhmut has been going on for a couple of months; it took the Russians how many weeks to pulverise and occupy Soledar? Maybe Bakhmut will fall in a matter of weeks, but not if the Russians continue to grind out their advance at the rate that have been doing.

          And the reports I have read suggest the poorly-trained conscripts are for the most part Russian.

          The Russians have launched a war of aggression/genocide against Ukraine. It is for the Ukrainian's to decide if and when they chose to negotiate.

          This is the 21st century, we are supposed to have moved on from 'Great Powers' negotiating between them the fate of lesser countries, drawing lines on a map, etc

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reality is starting to bite...

        Send more weapons. Give Ukraine F16s, ATACMS, Reapers, and Abrams tanks. And uncuff them, let Ukraine use western weapons to hit any military target within Ruzzia itself.

        What arm chair generals like you fail to grasp is that all these high tech weaponry systems require ENORMOUS logistical support. One Patriot battery, for example, requires 90 highly trained operatives. Likewise for maintenance. Who's going to be fixing all these main battle tanks and F-16s?

        It's no accident that the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns cost the USA a combined total of $8 TRILLION and those were wars against adversaries that can in no way be described as peer-level.

      5. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

        Re: Reality is starting to bite...

        Up voted, but overly harsh on Chamberlain.

        He knew how weak the UK was militarily, and how dovish the UK parliament and much of the UK press/population was - there was no broad appetite in the UK for Chamberlain to have been more confrontational (which is an issue for a democratic leader).

        What Chamberlain did do was oversee an increase in UK military spending, such that when war broke out, the Royal Navy was about ready for it, the RAF was close enough ready that it actually was by the time of the Battle of Britain, and the British Army, well, it was big enough to at least be called an army.

        Plus by extracting the promise from Hitler, which Hitler then broke, he was able to bring the nation with him in standing up for the next Red Line (Poland), since the country now understood that Herr Hitler's guarantees guarantee nothing.

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      People who thought sanctions would have immediate effect

      Didn't understand how they work. It is a cumulative thing, between the massive brain drain in the tech/engineer/etc. crowd from people fleeing the sinking ship before all the lifeboats were gone and people fleeing to avoid forced conscription in an ill equipped and low morale army, and all the duplicative work the Russian economy will have to do to work around sanctions or roll their own solutions for stuff they used to buy off the shelf the GDP will take a big dive. A massive dive, if you used math that didn't account for "productivity" in the form of building weapons in the GDP but as useless which it is as far as increasing the wealth of the people of a nation.

      Within a few years, if Putin is still in power, Russia's economy will be worse off than it was under the darkest days of the USSR. Even if Putin is removed and isn't replaced by someone just as bad or worse, it will take decades (at least) to get back to where it was before Putin's ill advised war due to all the people who left. Because if they are gone for more than 2 or 3 years, most will have put down roots in their new country and will not return to help Russia rebuild the shambles Putin leaves behind.

    4. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: Reality is starting to bite...

      "China, India and even Turkey standing firm with Putin."

      India bought some cheap oil and then Modi told Putin in public that now is not the time for war. Turkey has allowed a stream of Bayraktars to flow to Ukraine - a few months after outmaneouvering Russia in a small victorious war in the Caucasus. And China has been rubbing its hands at the prospect of Russia becoming increasingly dependant on Chinese imports and investment on whatever terms Xi desires...

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Reality is starting to bite...

        None of them are really "standing firm with Putin". If they were they would be sending him all the weapons he wants rather than limited supplies or solely non-military aid. Iran is the only one really helping him militarily in a way that affects the situation with Ukraine (or rather the situation for Ukraine's civilian population since Iran's drones are being sued against them)

        The others just see opportunity in the form of discount oil and getting to thumb their nose at Uncle Sam either because it plays well with the population and serves other goals of the leadership (China) or just portrays the leadership as "independent of outside influence" (India)

  14. Szymon Kosecki

    Probably Intel been asked by intel agencies to bury some souvenirs for them in there... I doubt Intel would do it out of the kindness of their hearts....

  15. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am sure the Russia government and military were able to get their hands on any drivers and patches even when they were blocked by simply using a VPN with an end point outside of Russia. So MS and Intel opening up their patches and driver downloads seems like a sensible way to stop millions of ordinary Russian citizens PCs becoming insecure and becoming a potential bot net that could be used by other countries like China or Iran to lauch DDOS attacks against western targets.

  16. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    Eh?

    Doesn't seem like it would be too hard to either setup a VPN or have out-of-country proxy servers to do this, especially for "official" government computers. I mean, getting drivers/updates from Intel and Microsoft seems like a pretty low technical bar to cross to begin with. It ain't like the Ruskies drilled a hole into Carnivore.

  17. FlamingDeath Silver badge
    Devil

    Denying Russia Windows updates

    Was probably seen as helping them, so they reverted that decision lol

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