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Windows 10 privacy concerns may help Linux
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In today's open source roundup: Will Windows 10 privacy issues bring
more users to Linux? Plus: Windows 10 keeps talking to Microsoft
even when you try to shut it up. And Ars Technica readers sound off
about Windows 10 and privacy
ITworld | August 13, 2015
*Windows 10 privacy concerns may help Linux*
Windows 10 is out now, and many people are shocked at some of the
privacy issues involved with Microsoft's latest desktop operating
system. But will Windows 10 and its privacy problems prove to be a boon
for Linux? A writer at Softpedia thinks that Windows 10 could be quite
good for growing the Linux user base.
Silviu Stahie reports for Softpedia:
...Windows 10 collects huge amounts of data about your PC and you as
a user, and most media outlets seem to think that it's OK and that
it's just an evolution of the operating system. From my perspective,
it's just another reason to move to Linux.
Many journalists have treated Windows 10 with a lot of lenience, to
say the least. Many have said that Windows 10 does collect plenty of
data, but that it is OK because others are doing it as well and
pointed fingers at Google or Facebook. Just because others are doing
it doesn't mean that it's OK for everyone involved. It's interesting
to see how, in just a couple of years, we've moved from being
apprehensive about sharing our personal details online to calling it
There are so many things that send information from Windows 10 that
it will take you a while to stop them all. Microsoft collects a ton
data about you as a user, and not just about your computer. Stuff
like location, preferences, and even contacts is being collected and
sent by default if you don't stop it. Even with everything turned
off, it's hard to determine if something else is happening.
A very clear line is being drawn right now. Windows is clearly
opting to use the online components more in its internal
functionality and Linux is going towards privacy. When you add the
security component to this equation, you can only get a single answer.
More at Softpedia
*Windows 10 keeps talking to Microsoft*
Windows 10 comes with various privacy control settings, but a writer at
Ars Technica notes that Windows 10 will keep talking to Microsoft even
when you try to shut it up.
Peter Bright reports for Ars Technica:
Windows 10 uses the Internet a lot to support many of its features.
The operating system also sports numerous knobs to twiddle that are
supposed to disable most of these features and the potentially
privacy-compromising connections that go with them.
Unfortunately for privacy advocates, these controls don't appear to
be sufficient to completely prevent the operating system from going
online and communicating with Microsoft's servers.
...Windows 10 will periodically send data to a Microsoft server
named ssw.live.com. This server seems to be used for OneDrive and
some other Microsoft services. Windows 10 seems to transmit
information to the server even when OneDrive is disabled and logins
are using a local account that isn't connected to a Microsoft
Account. The exact nature of the information being sent isn't
clear—it appears to be referencing telemetry settings—and again,
it's not clear why any data is being sent at all. We disabled
telemetry on our test machine using group policies.
We configured our test virtual machine to use an HTTP and HTTPS
proxy (both as a user-level proxy and a system-wide proxy) so that
we could more easily monitor its traffic, but Windows 10 seems to
make requests to a content delivery network that bypass the proxy.
More at Ars Technica
*Ars Technica readers sound off about Windows 10's privacy problems*
As you might imagine, Peter Bright's article on Ars Technica caught the
attention of the site's readers and they weren't shy about sharing their
thoughts about Windows 10's privacy issues:
*Caffarius: *"If they don't release a way to stop this incessant
collection of data, it's looking like all my machines are going to
be Linux based once Microsoft's Windows 7 support drops off. Arch
doesn't want to know a thing about me. And that's how I like it."
*Anowack: *"Surprise! A company that disrespects user privacy enough
to remove the option to turn off telemetry in all consumer versions
of its operating system is going to disrespect it in other ways also."
*Causality: *"This is completely ridiculous. Can somebody write an
overhaul patch that just puts a "F##K OFF" button in the privacy
*Delicieuxz: *"The Windows 10 EULA and Microsoft's Privacy Statement
declare that Microsoft will access and use the content of people's
emails and other files, such as documents uploaded to One Drive,
according to Microsoft's discretion. "Share with our partners" also
includes law enforcement, wherever Microsoft deems required. And I
think Microsoft cannot ignore any instance which they feel should be
forwarded to law enforcement without making themselves complicit in
any potential criminal activity.
Windows 10's all-your-contents-are-belongs-to-us policy is also a
widening of the backdoor which law enforcement asks OS manufacturer
to build into their systems.
Basically, Microsoft's Windows 10 EULA claims that all files used in
Windows 10 may be accessed, searched, and contents utilized by
Microsoft, with Microsoft exercizing sole discretion over what it
will access, and how it will be used.
I think all businesses, content creators, and even nations should be
dismayed at this."
*Sifaka: *"You should not need to install a firewall to stop your OS
from sending data to a remote server."
*ZPrime: *"While what this article reveals is somewhat
stuff that the product needs to function as intended (i.e. OneDrive,
various Live Tile apps / etc) and people are just fearmongering the
hell out of it.
Personally I have no problems with "telemetry" because it's not
traceable to an individual user, and it's there to help improve the
product. OTOH, as the article says, if I've turned off Bing / MSN
crap, Windows shouldn't still be poking those URLs."
*ZeroHazard: *"Let's not forget the purely monetary concerns:
metered internet. If it's constantly reading and sending your data
to an offsite server, you're getting dinged by data usage charges. I
wouldn't be surprised if ISPs welcomed this 'feature' with open arms
and greased palms."
*Peter Chastain: *"Does the postal carrier need to know the contents
of my mail in order to deliver it? Does the storage center need to
know the exact contents of my boxes, or only that they don't contain
MS doesn't need to know the contents of your files or your emails to
store or deliver them. They do need to know the contents if they
want to send you targeted offers or turn you over to law enforcement."
*Temtka: *"Right now I am dual booting Windows 10 Enterprise and
Linux. I use linux for 95% of my stuff. Windows for the other 5%. I
store nothing personal on my Windows partition. Which is sad,
because for the most part I really like Windows 10. Too bad it can't
be Windows 10 without all the tracking."
*PaidthePrice: *"Microsoft's final good operating system is and will
be Windows 7. Now, Microsoft treats every device like a cell phone.
So they treat it as a "service" not a product. I prefer a product
over a service."
More at Ars Technica
/Did you miss a roundup? Check the Eye On Open home page
to get caught up with the
latest news about open source and Linux./
Has Chrome OS become ugly?
Jim Lynch is a technology analyst and online community manager.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not
necessarily represent those of ITworld, CIO.com, IDG Communications, or
their parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.