A Californian woman has won a $10,000 (£7,600) court case after suing Microsoft for damage caused to her PC by an unwanted Windows 10 download.

The case illustrates the problems users and industry observers say Microsoft has caused with what they call an overly aggressive and at times “deceitful” campaign to get Windows 10 out to users ahead of an upgrade deadline next month.

Teri Goldstein, of Sausalito, in the San Francisco Bay area, alleged her computer began attempting to download Windows 10 soon after Microsoft released it as a free upgrade in July of last year.

She said that the update, which proceeded without her authorisation, failed to complete, and instead rendered the computer, which she uses to run a travel business, practically unusable. The system slowed to a crawl, and would crash and go out of service for days at a time, she said, according to a report in The Seattle Times.

“I had never heard of Windows 10,” Goldstein told the paper. “Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update.”

Goldstein first tried to fix the problem through Microsoft’s customer support and then successfully took the company to court. Microsoft dropped its appeal in May and Goldstein collected $10,000 as compensation for lost wages and the cost of a new computer.

Microsoft denies wrongdoing and said it ended its case in order to avoid further legal costs, according to the report.

Windows 10 is offered as a free upgrade to most existing Windows users, with the free update period ending on 29 July, but some have complained of the frequent and often intrusive update notifications, which industry observers have said are next to impossible to turn off.

Others have found that the operating system has installed itself in spite of their having dismissed the notifications.

In some cases that results from the fact that Windows 10 is offered as a “recommended” update, on a par with security patches, which many systems are configured to accept and install automatically.

Industry observers have argued that Microsoft risks doing long-term damage by abusing the trust of its users, who may in some cases become less willing to accept automatic updates, reducing the security of their systems.

And that doesn’t only affect the users themselves, but any Internet-connected device, since insecure computers are frequently taken over and made part of “botnets” used to launch malware and the junk emails used to spread it, computer security experts have pointed out.