Windows 10: Bigger Brother

Okay, Windows 10 is in. I now realize, I really didn’t want Windows 10. I wanted the Windows 10 UI, which you can get from Stardock’s WindowBlinds and spoof Windows 10 or Mac GUIs. Windows 10 itself likely has lots of positive and good things about it, but, had I realize the major downside of W10, I’d have stuck with W7.

The major problem is that Windows 10 virtually destroys any shred of privacy the end user had left. We didn’t have much, but we had at least a little control at the end-user side of things. W10 does away with all of that. For instance, I no longer have a local login but must use my Microsoft Store login on my machine. I’m not at all sure why MS thinks this makes my PC more secure: it does not. In fact, it severely weakens my security because now all anyone needs is to hack one login instead of four. Every machine I link to my MS acct will now use the same login and have access to all of my info. I understand why they’re doing this, chasing after the Google Chrome –ne-Apple models, but I find it really annoying that I can’t use “Pookey” or some other silly vanity name for each of my PCs; they now are named whatever my MS acct is named.

Beyond that, the W10 EULA tells us MS will now be reading our email. I’m not making this up. MS will now scan all of your email the way Google and Yahoo do, but are now doing it at the local level which means, even if you’re not using a MS (or Outlook) account, your PC will now read your email and report back to Microsoft. This is done presumably for advertising purposes, to create an advertising “key” to provide to advertisers so they know which ads to show you. But I also assume if you keep typing things like “jihad” or “Allah Akbar,” they’re report that to somebody, too. Got pics of your kids in the bathtub on your PC? Expect a possible visit from the cops. MS’s cloud drive wants to, essentially, clone your file structure on “The Cloud” for easier access. But, note, they scan every byte of data sent there.

Side note: I never understand why people trust “The Cloud.” “The cloud” seems the ultimate in naiveté and/or laziness on the part of the end user. Where, exactly, is this “cloud?” Who has access? What happens to all the data on this “cloud” when the company goes out of business? I am extremely selective in what I allow on the cloud and it bothers me that others, including companies I do business with, people I work with, and even government agencies, store info on these “clouds” all over the place.

Anyway, Win10 sure looks pretty. There are things I like and things I don’t, but I do realize, having had this thing installed for exactly one day, that what I actually wanted was the GUI, Nothing else about W10 makes my life any better or easier and some part of it are just brain-dead (like the Quick Access folder, the order of whose contents you cannot change—why?! —and the inexplicable inclusion of only six (?!) folders in the This PC (formerly My Computer) folder; why include any folders at all?!).

None of it is worth the HUGE invasion of privacy W10 represents: use at your own risk. My heartfelt advice: stick with Windows 7, download Stardock’s WindowBlinds, install a W10 skin and pretend. Your friends will never know the difference. I have 30 days to change my mind and revert back to W7 (or do a clean install of W7). I need to like this thing a whole lot better over the next few weeks.

Oh, the good news: Office 2016—which is likely equally as nosy as W10—has a much-improved UI, finally doing away with the hideous, headache-inducing “all-white” scheme although, inexplicably, it’s actually still an option in the software (what genius over there came up with that?!? No-contrast, flat design, extremely hard to look at). The new default interface introduces color (wow, an innovation) and neutral grays to make Office 2016 much easier to look at. I assume they’ve fixed some things and broken others, but the interface itself is a reason to upgrade.


  1. Trev Trev says:

    I just updated my version of W10 today and wanted to try out Cortana only to find that it was going to basically going to track everything I do on the computer. Everything. I know I seem like a conspiracy nut but something tells me it’s not just to make my computer experience better. I was doing just fine in the days when Microsoft didn’t find the need to track everything I do. Thanks but no thanks. Something tells me they’re working with the government. Did you know, over here in the UK, they introducing the Snoopers Charter where intellengence agencies can track everybody’s web and social media use? I’m not happy about it because it invades people’s privacy.
    We’re definitely heading towards a Big Brother state.

    • Dave Van Domelen says:

      Except we’re not heading towards a Big Brother *state*. Big Brother is the corporations, not the state. As Bob Dobbs says, you will pay to pull the wool over your own eyes.

  2. Priest Priest says:

    Trev: it annoys me that this is done to my “smart” phone. I’ve grown to accept that. I’m not happy that the “watch everything I do” “feature” is active on my iPad, but I’ve grown to accept that as well. Why? because neither was my main PC–which is like an extension of myself. Having this invasive protocol on my main PC truly irritates me enough to consider switch to Apple, damn the cost (although Apple does its fair share of snooping, too, and there’s no guarantee they, too, won;t become even more invasive).

    Most of this is done under cover of tailoring advertising–which is probably true, but I am inundated with advertising all the livelong day. I never imagined the day would come when I couldn’t even decide, for myself, what the password on my own PC is (or that, with a simple phone call, Micro$oft High Council would be able to provide my PC login to law enforcement or, say, a burglar posing as me). To make my security even more laughable, MS now allows you to use a 4-digit PIN instead of your password. How on *earth* is that more secure?!?

    I don’t feel it’s a govt conspiracy; I feel it is greed. Most of us have been MS customers for decades. Let me ask: how much money do they have to make before they can start giving us a break? As for the gvt: I don;t doubt they’re please by this, and I am quite sure there are back-room deals where warrant or warrantless searches can easily be conducted.

    For that matter, and just to feed your paranoia, I’ve never liked Windows’ search indexing feature. Seems harmless enough, but it maintains a registry database of everything on your PC and external drives, which could effortlessly–I mean,not even be noticed by anyone–be uploaded to MS and, say, the FBI.

    Win10 has eliminated the subterfuge; they’re flat-out telling you they’re snooping. How paranoid is this: I’m very careful about what I put on my own PC in my own home because I know whatever I put on that PC is being monitored, examined, and passed on to advertisers and potentially government agencies. You should no longer consider your PC to have any real extension of your privacy; dump all your nudie pics now.

    Thad: thx for the link, I’ll check it out.

  3. Ralf Haring says:

    Putting “the cloud” in scare quotes is silly. There is no one cloud and there is no blanket attitude toward it. Some services and companies are more trustworthy than others, because they’ve earned it. From a stability perspective, you look at whether the company has been around a long time, whether they have a history of killing products without warning, whether they offer easy export of data or lock you in, what values the company executives/owners espouse. From a security perspective, you look at things like the EFF’s privacy report cards to see which companies lead in making sure user data is secure, which ones deploying new methods that other less innovative ones adopt after-the-fact (or usually are dragged into adopt kicking and screaming), how they respond when they screw up.

    It’s not as easy as just saying “Fire bad!”

  4. Priest Priest says:

    Of course I’m being facetious, doing a Seinfeld bit, “The Cloud.” But, SFAIC, there is risk involved in the convenience of offsite storage. I’d never put anything sensitive on a cloud drive, ever. I move a lot of docs to my iPad thru Google Drive, but not anything with a credit card or SSN number on it. Ever. Period.

    SFAIC, a company’s integrity is only as good as who’s currently running the joint. And I don’t get a vote in that.

  5. Ibrahim Ng says:

    Windows 10 is Microsoft’s buggiest release. Vista was slow, Windows 7 was smooth, 8 and 8.1 were schizo — but Windows 10 is just full of glitches. My aunt bought a Surface Pro 3, maxed out with the highest RAM, processor and hard drive — and it would frequently boot to an unresponsive desktop with the E-mail failing to sync and the keyboard and touchpad often failing to respond. Windows Update downloads and installs updates whether you want it to or not, and often installs the wrong drivers and interrupts system services even when you’re using them.

    As a result, my aunt found her computer constantly in stasis from updates and crashing graphics and keyboard drivers. After multiple system restores, I was compelled to reinstall Windows 10 clean — and then sabotage the Windows Update service, preventing it from downloading or installing updates. I’ll lift the block every 3 – 4 months, let any updates install, make sure they’re working or roll them back.

    My HTPC ran on Windows 10 without problems for a few months — and then suddenly, the graphics driver would crash. Constantly. Repeatedly. Despite rolling it back, something else had ruined it — video wouldn’t play. Video players would spend hours loading and fail to play. Eventually, I gave up and did a clean install of Windows 7.

    My T100 Chi laptop is doing okay on Windows 10. Naturally, I’ve switched off all of Microsoft’s spyware.

    • Priest Priest says:

      The video driver snafu is well documented 🙂 I really did run quite a few web searches for whether or not to update, and didn’t see any of the serious downside stuff until well after the fact. I suppose it wasn’t until after the install that I knew the right Q’s to ask.

      Perhaps foolishly, I have some small faith that MS will work out the bugs, but agree this thing was not ready. We are all now beta testers.

  6. circ says:

    I stopped using MS Office many moons ago, thanks to this nifty prog:

    Less bloated and just as good to me. Might want to change.

    • Ibrahim Ng says:

      I’m using LibreOffice, a slightly more advanced build of OpenOffice, but as we’re learning, updates don’t always mean smoother performance or an improved interface! They’re both terrific and free office productivity suites that are compatible with MS Office files and can save in those formats when sending to someone else.

      That said, I installed LibreOffice for my aunt and she couldn’t get used to it. It looks like a reskinned Microsoft Office 2000.

      • circ says:

        Good to know. Thanks!

      • Priest Priest says:

        Not to defend MS, but the real office is so cheap, not sure what the point of going Open Source is. Wish Adobe would stop price gouging; the world would be a much better place.

        • circ says:

          I agree about Adobe. Am just of a mind to keep MS stuff to a minimum. MS and Sonii (among others) have this need to control everything in a blind domino fashion. The Open Source Community works very well. Linux is starting to call my name.

        • Ibrahim Ng says:

          A quick look at my local computer store has Office priced at $225 for the full suite and $115 for Word and Excel. Hardly cheap when Libre Office is free.

  7. Ibrahim Ng says:

    Priest’s WindowBlinds advice is hilarious. My laptop came with Windows 10, so I have no downgrade option that includes device drivers and I’m not inclined to take the time to install the Windows 7 OS only to find the hardware won’t work. However, I still prefer Windows 7 — so I’m using this free program called Classic Shell — — which puts the Windows 7 style Start Menu back into Windows 10. This tiny adjustment instantly makes this laptop work as a laptop as opposed to some peculiar and clumsy hybrid of a tablet and a laptop.

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