Microsoft reportedly resumed Windows 11 Updates as well.
Intel, which ceased doing business in Russia and Belarus due to US sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine conflict, has reportedly resumed allowing driver and software downloads within the country, according to multiple reports in Russian media. Immediately following the imposition of U.S. sanctions, Russian users were unable to download Intel software. According to these reports, Microsoft has quietly reinstated automatic Windows 11 updates for Russian users.
A spokesperson for Intel told Tom’s Hardware that there have been no recent changes to the company’s operations – a crucial caveat.
“Intel suspended all shipments to Russian and Belarusian customers in February and March 2022, respectively. Intel announced in April 2022 that it was suspending business operations in Russia “we were told.
“Intel continues to adhere to all export regulations and sanctions applicable in the countries where it operates. This includes compliance with sanctions and export controls issued by the United States and its allies against Russia and Belarus. Intel’s warranty obligations include providing access to driver update resources, such as the Intel Download Center and Intel Download Support Assistant (IDSA).”
Yet, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Intel initially blocked software downloads in Russia for the software mentioned in the statement; the company restored access towards the end of last year. This justifies Intel’s claim that the modifications were not “recent.” Due to Intel’s warranty obligations, the Intel Driver and Support Assistant (DSA) downloads are now freely accessible to Russian users.
According to Russian media reports, Intel’s initial download block began on February 25, 2022, and it appears to be based on the geographic location of the user. As a result, both individuals and businesses in Russia were unable to access downloads from Intel’s official website; as a result, they had to spoof their IP address using a virtual private network (VPN), use torrents, or search various forums for copies of the drivers. According to Russian media, ‘experts’ argued that Intel’s blocks prevented the company from meeting its warranty obligations to Russian customers.
According to Izvestia and CNews (Russian media), the Intel download portal will be accessible without IP spoofing as of January 11, 2023. However, it had to use Yandex or Google to locate the download section, as the main Intel Russia website is not yet directly accessible.
Curiously, it appears that driver updates are only accessible via the automatic download tool. Even though the Driver and Support Assistant software, which automatically installs or updates drivers, is available for free, the outlet claims that Intel does not permit direct downloads of the drivers without registering and creating a profile on Intel’s Russia website, which is not permitted from a Russian IP address.
The reports also claim that Microsoft has resumed quietly allowing Windows 11 updates within the country, despite not allowing the operating system to be downloaded. We’ve contacted Microsoft for comment and will provide updates as necessary.
The reports paint a picture of normalcy returning to the country; the CNews report also praises so-called ‘parallel’ imports to the country and the resulting proliferation of easily accessible Intel products at Russian online retailers.
Parallel imports are simply imports from the gray market, meaning they are not authorized by the manufacturer of the product. In response to U.S. sanctions, Russia has decriminalized and encouraged these imports, thereby avoiding restrictions on products from Intel, AMD, and Apple.