Monday, December 7, 2015

Windows 10: the mother of all viruses?

I like to be adventurous on occasions.  So, after having been inundated daily by that pop-up window that I really, really, really should install Windows 10, I finally decided to do it, on my private machine at home. It ran Windows 8.1 so far (yeah, not that great, I know), so what the heck.  There were the usual Microsoft glitches that we all have come to love.  Cryptic error messages that the update failed (one of mine was: “Error(s) found: Code 802441019 Windows Update ran into a problem.”  Ok, whatever).  Upon solving those and eventually starting it all, the Internet Explorer just produced a blue window, as did the settings window.  The task manager wouldn’t start.  And a bunch of other things.  Ok, I solved that too.  I won’t tell you how: this isn’t a tech blog!  Moreover, I want to let you have just as much fun as I did!  You didn’t expect this to work smoothly, did you?
But these are just the usual Microsoft bumps on the road.  The much bigger issue is this: is Windows 10 the mother of all viruses?  When you install the software, and just click away doing the standard installation, you failed to read some upfront notice that Microsoft will collect all kinds of data from you.  I decided to do the custom installation instead, where you can turn off certain of these features.  After reading the appalling questions, I pretty much turned off all of them.  The summary of the questions was “Is it ok, if everything that you type or do will be sent to Microsoft?  And used by advertisers?  Is it ok, if we pillage all your contacts and their contact information and use them for all kinds of purposes?  Is it ok, if any shred of privacy that you might still think you have is finally taken away from you, so that we can proceed with all your data as we please?”.  No, it’s not ok, thank you very much.  The questions are shocking, really.  I suppose some of these things make life easier in some dimensions: across devices, say, or some other reasons unknown to me.  But largely, this is a script that Orwell couldn’t have invented better in his famous “1984” book (1984 now seems so long ago, already, doesn’t it!?!).  To me, Microsoft was ready to install the mother of all viruses on my machine.  What were the folks developing that thinking, really?
Declining all their invasions into my privacy initially is not the end of the song, actually.  There is a new app in your task bar, called “Cortana”, that “you can ask everything”.  I tried, and it immediately asked me back, whether, before “Cortana” thinks about what I wanted to know, it would be ok for Microsoft to pillage all my contacts and so forth.  No, it’s not ok.  I clicked “no” and now, “Cortana” is gone for good, apparently.  Where did you go?  I just wanted an answer to a simple question!  Gone.  Perhaps better that way.
I should have been tipped off that, when I tried to install Windows 10, it first asked me to remove my trusted Symantec Endpoint Protection software, because it would be incompatible with Windows 10.  It was compatible with Windows 8.1, right?  So, why is it incompatible with Windows 10?  Perhaps, because the activities that Microsoft plans here are incompatible with trusted protection against viruses and other threats?  I am not surprised.
Windows 10 is now sitting on that machine at home.  I can’t help but wonder whether, despite declining all their options initially, Microsoft is not invading my privacy through the backdoor in many different ways, anyhow.  Normally, a really nasty virus can’t be turned off just by clicking a bunch of options, when it installs itself, right?  So, good luck with it all.

1 comment:

  1. You knew this was coming: . Run Windows in a virtual machine for those times you can't avoid it.