Don’t Upgrade to the Windows 10 Surveillance Desktop; Try a Free Linux OS Instead

windows-10

– 8 August 2015 –

Clusivius:

Clusivius-sqMicrosoft is offering free upgrades to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and Windows 8 desktop users who own valid licenses. But if you care about your privacy at all, don’t do it!  Microsoft’s generosity has several strings attached.

Via ZeroHedge and Newsweek:

If Edward Snowden’s patriotic exposure of all things ‘super secret surveillance state’ in America were not enough, Newsweek reports that, as 10s of millions of hungry PC users download the free upgrade, Windows 10 is watching – and logging and sharing – everything users do… and we mean everything.

From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers’ basic information – name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics – but it also digs a bit deeper… and finding answers is not easy, as one privacy expert exclaimed, “there is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes ‘real transparency’.”

As NewsWeek reports,

More than 14 million devices are already running Microsoft’s Windows 10 after its global launch on Wednesday, but it’s unclear how many of their users read the company’s Privacy Policy and Service Agreement before downloading. Tucked away in the 45 pages’ worth of terms and conditions (effective August 1) is a substantial power grab: The company is collecting data on much of what you do while using its new software.

From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers’ basic information – name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics – but it also digs a bit deeper.

Other information Microsoft saves includes Bing search queries and conversations with the new digital personal assistant Cortana; contents of private communications such as email; websites and apps visited (including features accessed and length of time used); and contents of private folders. Furthermore, “your typed and handwritten words are collected,” the Privacy Statement says, which many online observers liken to a keylogger. Microsoft says they collect the information “to provide you a personalized user dictionary, help you type and write on your device with better character recognition, and provide you with text suggestions as you type or write.”

All this information doesn’t necessarily remain with just Microsoft. The company says it uses the data collected for three purposes: to provide and improve its services; to send customers personalized promotions; and to display targeted advertising, which sometimes requires the information be shared with third parties.

Not only do typical Windows 10 users lose their privacy, they are forced to download and install updates automatically and they must use the new Internet Explorer (called ‘Edge’) by default.  There is also a chance, according to Forbes, that Microsoft will begin charging users for updates after two to four years.

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8 and like it, stick with it.  If you’re one of those Windows 8 users who can’t stand the changes from Windows 7 or XP, you could upgrade to 10 if you don’t care about your privacy or personal control of your settings.  Or you could just make your next desktop purchase an Apple, as many have happily done.

But if you are at least moderately comfortable with computing, I recommend that you try a Linux OS.

linux-mint-17-2

A Linux desktop, in this case Linux Mint 17.2 using the Cinnamon desktop environment.

Nearly every Linux operating system is free, and so is just about every Linux application.  You can even install Linux to a thumb drive and boot from that thumb drive to test it out.

(I don’t mean to sound like a paid advertisement here, but I am a very enthusiastic Linux user these days, particularly in opposition to the increasingly closed-box, we-know-what’s-best-for-you practices of today’s newest information technology.

There was a time not long ago when I preferred to use Windows instead of the Linux systems I’d previously toyed with.  When I bought a new laptop a few years ago with Windows 8 pre-installed, I liked Windows 8 well enough to keep using it (though I still preferred Windows 7).

But this changed after I bought a solid state drive to speed up the system.  The HP restore disk wouldn’t accept any other hard drive than the original model. I would have had to buy a new copy of Windows 8 or 7 even though I’d already bought my copy for that machine.  This was the sort of thing that I hated about Microsoft. From this point I decided to ditch Windows.

Fines-et-intia-linux-mint-kde-desktop

A screenshot of my customized version of Linux Mint KDE version 17.2

After experimenting with a handful of different Linux ‘distributions’ (brands, you might say), I found that I liked Linux Mint KDE the best, and I continue to use it with enthusiasm.  I’ve customized it to look largely like Windows 7, though with several modifications.

There was a time that I didn’t like Linux because I was attached to several Windows applications, particularly Office, Photoshop, and Illustrator.  But many Windows programs can be run in WINE, a sort of windows emulator, while others must be run in Windows on a virtual machine (I run Windows XP on the free VirtualBox.)  Gradually I grew accustomed to Libreoffice and GIMP and other Linux software, though I still prefer Illustrator, run in the virtual machine.

The best distribution of Linux boils down to a matter of personal preference, but for people who are used to Windows, I recommend trying one of the variations of Linux Mint or one of the Ubuntu operating systems. (In fact, Ubuntu has a rather clever preview site that nicely simulates the operation and feel of their primary desktop OS.)  These distributions offer the greatest ease of use for those who just want to install their system and run it without fuss.

Ubuntu-15-04-Vivid-Vervet-Release-Date-Revealed-465208-10

Ubuntu 15.04, a very user friendly operating system though it is weak on customization.

To try out one of these systems without sacrificing your current machine, download an .iso version of the Linux operating system and either burn it to a DVD, then restart and boot from the DVD (you might have to change the BIOS to boot from a DVD, and UEFI could make that a bit annoying).

Or you can use a program called UNetBootin to make a bootable flash drive.  This page should give adequate instructions on how to do that, but you could also follow the directions at the UNetBootin website linked above.

The nice thing about booting from a flash drive, or even installing the OS on a flash drive, is the ability to try several different operating systems in a relatively short time without wasting DVD’s.

Linux isn’t for everyone, and it does require a moderate level of computer proficiency to install (but not so much to use).  But as for me, I won’t ever buy another copy of Windows.

In any case, even if you stay with Windows, I strongly recommend keeping your Windows 7 or 8 instead of taking Microsoft’s Faustian bargain.

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4 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Brittius.

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  2. I always find it amusing when people say technology will increase our freedoms when it only seems to make it easier to limit them. Imagine if the Soviet Union were created in today’s tech environment, Solzhenitsyn wouldn’t have published ever!

    To hope that the growing vulnerability of a world increasingly integrated by technology will not demand a total despotism is mere foolishness.
    -Don Colacho

    http://don-colacho.blogspot.com/2010/01/technique-technology.html

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    • This Don Colacho fellow is wonderful. So beautifully cynical, even pessimistic. His mistrust of modern civilization with its cities and machines is somehow soothing.

      I agree with you about the tyranny of technology. It will only grow worse. Less choice so you don’t have to trouble yourself to think! The fools will think they are free because their asses are wiped and their beds are made for them. Sometimes I envy the elderly, having grown up in a better time and now checking out just as the world slips into the pit.

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      • People, especially conservatives it seems, don’t remember that real freedom flows from independence.

        Don Colacho is great, I read through them every now and then and there’s still some I don’t get.
        A good one:
        ‘The reactionary today is merely a traveler who suffers shipwreck with dignity.’

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