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July 20th, 2015

Yet Another Reason to Avoid Windows 10

Forget that the folks at Microsoft were wrong about the “Start” button and the interface formally known as Metro. It seems they’re still convinced they know what’s best for their users. So much so that the new Windows, due to be released next week, will have users click off on an EULA that pretty much gives Redmond carte blanche to update the system at will, which will include updating apps as well as Windows itself, with no real way to opt out — except for users of the Enterprise edition.

Windows logoWe learned of this on Friday through Tim Anderson at The Register, who supplied these lines from the EULA:

  • “The Software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you.
  • You may obtain updates only from Microsoft or authorized sources, and Microsoft may need to update your system to provide you with those updates.

  • By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.

In other words, users of Windows 10 will have their computers updated automatically, whether they want it or not.

At Forbes, Gordon Kelly opines that for most Windows users this is probably good. After all, Windows home users aren’t known for being necessarily technically astute, and if Redmond doesn’t keep their computers supplied with all the latest security and bug fixes, who will?

Trouble is, there are good reasons to not let Microsoft update machines running its operating system at will. Updates sometimes break things, which isn’t good for those who use their computers for more than surfing, email, and occasionally, some word processing.

When I was administering Windows systems, I routinely delayed installing Windows’ updates by a day or two, long enough for the news to get out if the updates were breaking systems. Evidently, this type of delaying tactic will still be possible with Windows 10, as users will have the option of joining a “Slow” or “Fast” track, with the later receiving updates immediately and the later getting updates up to a month later.

Indeed, the biggest problem with the new policy isn’t with the forced updates per se, but as Kelly points out, with the scope of what Redmond can do under this policy:

“Windows 10’s forced automatic updates don’t simply cover security patches, they cover anything and everything Microsoft wants to put on your PC as part of Windows 10. This can range from new software and services to changes to core features and functionality.

“For example: if Microsoft wants to build a new media player, RSS reader, mapping software, cookbook, boomerang or nuclear submarine into the core of Windows 10 it can and you have to install it. If an update also changes how a feature or service operates to a way you dislike (say a new user interface), then tough you have to accept that as well.”

But wait, there’s more. This EULA would also allow Redmond to install adware on all machines running Windows 10 if they want. Remember, Bing is essentially an advertising company, and much to Microsoft’s chagrin, it’s been playing catch-up with Google since forever. Having the ability to place ads on Windows machines at will could be quite valuable to Redmond — and scary for the rest of us.

Microsoft has also already set a precedent for using its infrastructure to place ads on Windows machines:

“…Microsoft pushed adware as an update to Windows 7 and Windows 8 which created a pop-up advising users to upgrade to Windows 10…. This irritated enough users that hacks appeared around the web explaining how to remove that particular update. That wouldn’t be possible in Windows 10.”

Even if hacks were developed, there would likely be consequences for using them. In April, senior Microsoft product marketing manager Helen Harmetz indicated that consumers who don’t have their systems updated “within the allotted time period of approximately eight months…will not be able to see and consume the next security update.”

Although Harmetz was speaking of a feature built-in to Windows 10 Professional — primarily targeted at business users — which will allow automatic updates to be deferred for a user specified amount of time, we’re probably safe in assuming that Redmond would apply this metric to lowly “Home” users who “illegally” hack their computers as well. The only version of Windows 10 that will be relatively free of forced automatic updates is Enterprise, which will evidently allow for opting out of everything but security updates.

All of this reminds me of the opening to a certain television show back in the mid-1960s:

“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We can reduce the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.…”

Except for the references to “horizontal” and “vertical,” which might be a little arcane for younger readers, I think the quote paints a very clear picture…or blurry or whatever Microsoft wants it to be.

Anyway, I return control of your television set… er, computer, to you.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Latest posts by Christine Hall (see all)

35 comments to Yet Another Reason to Avoid Windows 10

  • Duncan

    There is a way to block it — blackholing the MS update server in the DNS (set it to 0.0.0.0 or localhost) or firewall. Of course, MS could bypass local DNS settings for its own domains if it wished to, but if it can bypass an OpenWRT/Linux (or *BSD, for those who prefer that) based router/firewall, at least if it can do so on a machine without wifi (if the machine has wifi and there’s other access points in the area it could in theory ignore a config disabling wifi and route thru them if it couldn’t reach it thru the normally configured router), so the only net connection is wired, presumably ethernet, to the router/firewall, then that WILL make news.

    But regardless, for me MS jumped the shark when it demanded remote authorization and root for eXPrivacy, and I actually switched to Linux, permanently, the week eXPrivacy actually came out. It took me about three months to get myself situated on Linux, choosing all my apps and getting Linux setup the way I wanted it (I’m a _heavy_ customizer), during which I was rebooting to the MS side for whatever I hadn’t setup on Linux yet, but even a month in, things had flipped — where when I started, I’d sit in X and wonder what to do, while I could boot to MS and have all sorts of stuff to do, a month in, it was the reverse, I knew what I was doing on Linux, and whenever I’d boot to MS I’d do what I booted to it for and then sit and wonder what to do, other than reboot to Linux, which I’d pretty quickly do. I kept shrinking the MS install until about a year in I needed the disc space for something else and simply dumped it, tho I kept a copy of the install files around for another couple years, just in case.

    Since then, when I look back at MS, it’s like a defector looking back at his old country. I left many friends and loved ones behind, some of which I’ve helped escape as well since then, but now I was living in the land of freedom, and I knew I neither could nor would ever go back to that land of bondage.

    Duncan

  • Mike

    I hung on to Windows later than Duncan, but when I switched I did it cold turkey in a single day. No dual booting for me.

    (I dual booted lots of systems over the years for a lot of reasons and with lots of operating systems, but never liked it very much.)

    Anyway, for the first year or so I had both good and bad times. There were times when I was elated by how easy it was to do certain things that were difficult or downright impossible to do under Windows. There were also times when I was frustrated because something I knew how to do on Windows seemed to have no equivalent under Linux. I was occasionally tempted to go back to Windows for just a single task, but I resisted. Eventually I discovered to look for alternatives instead of the exact name of something I knew from Windows and found pretty much everything has an equivalent or better. There are a handful of spots I’d like to see improvement for – about the only one I can think of right now is an inability to get sound in Virt-Manager run KVM guests.

  • Fox

    I’m old enough to remember the Outer Limits show – spooky comparison with Windows 10, but apt in some ways. This requirement for automatic installation of updates (or anything MS wants to push) is worse than anything Apple requires – I still have a choice as to which software updates I apply and I can dump most Apple programs at will.

  • Gordonbp

    Of course the other great MS debacle is that yet again, the Home Edition of Windows 10 (like all other Home versions)does NOT contain any sort of built-in disk encryption (Bitlocker).
    Yes you can upgrade to Pro edition (in the UK a staggering scandalous ripoff of £100) but why bother when both Linux and OSX come with disk encryption built in?

  • Mike Fox

    The Windows 10 EULA proves that MS wants the opposite of freedom for its users. Therefore I wish people will abandon this bondage system, which tries to take users for fools. This EULA is the most horrible contract a company could do to its users and therefore everyone should realise, that all the complaints about NSA activities from MS in the past were nothing but bigoted – bye bye MS!

  • archuser

    What about people with no INTERNET connection or show ones like in 3rd world countries, what happens when they are WFH and busy solving a high priority INC as all of a sudden Internet connection becomes slow and they no longer complete their work because windows is downloading updates ? or does MS have an setting to download updates only when computer is idle.

  • Duncan

    @ Mike Fox

    Remember a few years ago when Sony did its rootkit thing? That was bad, sure, but what I couldn’t understand was why people were effectively just taking the same thing from MS, with the remote activation stuff in eXPrivacy. And actually, I predicted just that sort of thing happening. MS was simply setting the example for others with their deliberately installed malware-antifeatures. There was no question after that. Installing software that takes AWAY features? Definitely malware! Which is exactly why I got off the platform. Yet most people just took it, and continue to take it. Nothing new here.

    They’ve not gotten any better, but for whatever reason, people really do seem to just take stuff from from MS (and Apple) that they’d never take from anyone else. Which is where Sony got in trouble.

    FWIW, Sony never did properly apologize for that, by which I mean not only buying their victims new computers if they wanted it, but pledging to never ship DRM malware in any of their products, from then on. Of course, they went on to yank the Linux feature off already purchased playstations, too. But by then I had vowed never to buy anything Sony until they straightened up their act, which as I said they’ve yet to do, so big-screen TVs/monitors, laptops, home audio systems, etc, Sony’s permanently off my list unless/until they come around. And since they haven’t, the playstation thing neither surprised me nor affected me, as I wasn’t touching anything Sony by then and still don’t, kernel and other FLOSS contributions not withstanding. (Hey, the NSA both uses and contributes to FLOSS as well, which is their right, since user rights aren’t restricted. The tool isn’t evil, but the people using and even helping to improve it can be.)

  • tracyanne

    Interesting and ironic.

    The Emperor Is Naked and We’re All Idiots http://www.technewsworld.com/edpick/82282.html

  • Mike Fox

    @ Duncan

    You’re right and as you say, the intention of doing something is crucial. So it is for MS and the NSA. The point to me is that in comparison to earlier windows versions MS now wants to force users giving up control over their machines and transfer this completely to MS – and the NSA. So now tell me anyone: is this a good intention regarding to a self-determined usage of your own pc or whatever. Simultaneously preaching freedom is ridiculous and mendacious. Unfortunately most users are bored about these issues, so they do not take any care about the kind of contribution NSA does – and so freedom is dying in reality.

  • tracyanne

    There’s a bit missing from my previous post. Without it my post looks like spam.

    The article I’m directing people to is about Windows 10 (well the end part), and the irony here is that the first part of the article talks about how we are all easily conned. Then the author tells us how good Windows 10 is.

    Maybe the first part is a warning about the second part.

  • […] Hall di FOSS Force ha scritto un articolo nel quale evidenzia come una delle nuove funzionalità di Windows 10 rappresenti un enorme (ed a […]

  • There’s one good thing with this scenario, however, the cooperate puppets will show their true colors.

    Websites following directives, or in their pocket… will try and spin this story so it looks like MS does this with your BEST interests at heart (LOL).

    IF you believe the last statement, please hurry; give me access to your bank accounts; I promise… I’ll make you rich!

  • mike

    Looks like the spin machine is in high gear already over at zdnet.

    Even Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is singing praises of Windows 10 while curiously omitting any of the obvious problems. He stands with the obvious pro-Microsoft spin from the likes of Mary Jo Foley, David Gewirtz, and Ed Bott. Does that guy really have any credibility in the FOSS world?

    Forced updates – cramming unwanted software down user’s throats using extortion (No security updates for you unless you consent to our control!)

    Wifi Sense – We’re going to take your wifi passwords and store them on our servers where they will be easily accessible to government agencies. We will give access to all your social network friends via an unsecure ‘sharing’ mechanism. IF we let you opt out, you can be sure we will hide the option really well. Also the opt out isn’t instant and if you let any friends with Windows 10 on your network, then THEIR machines will share it for you! The only way to prevent that is to name your network with “_optout” on the end. Ironically this prevent soyu from opting out of Google’s wifi location services which require “_nomap” on the end.

    Hey Microsoft and Google!

    Here’s an idea: How about I OPT IN to your crap if I want it. In the meantime leave me the hell alone.

  • mike

    I wish we could edit comments.

    “prevent soyu” = “prevents you”

  • Richard Thornton

    This article is the most slanted piece of yellow journalism that I have ever read on any topic. You do not have to upgrade to Windows 10 and even Vista is supported for security patches until I think 2017.
    see: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/lifecycle;
    Windows 8.1 is supported thru 2023.

    You don’t like Windows 10? Don’t upgrade; Enough with the left wing politics. Is this a technology newsletter, or a communist party hack?

    You’d be better off worrying about what’s under those black robes of of the burka wearing morons in Philadelphia, than what’s going on in Redmond.

  • Mike

    @Richard Thornton

    The article presents a good reason to avoid Windows 10 that a lot of people are already upset about. That’s hardly yellow journalism.

    Of course the best reason to avoid Windows (any version) is “Because it isn’t FOSS”, but that reason is lost on most people, so it’s good to point out other potential problems to people who haven’t gotten the message yet.

  • Richard Thornton

    The problem with the article is it main source is a blogger on Forbes, who is stating his biased opinion, and he takes quotes from the EULA out of context, in my view. Then he makes the ridiculous claim that MS could force a Windows 10 user to submit to any intrusion that Redmond wants; I doubt thats legal on any grounds. All contracts have limitations. MS is not omnipotent. Also these constant references to the NSA on this blog are also ridiculous; It’s all hearsay.

    And finally, why is only FOSS good? It’s asinine to make such remarks; Some very good software is proprietary, two immediately come to mind, SAS,and MATLAB.

    I have 5 computers in my house, 3 run Windows, 2 run Ubuntu, and 2 of the five run VM’s of OpenBSD & FreeBSD.

    By the way, if I could shape my perfect world, all computers would run only OpenBSD, but thats a fantasy not even on the same probabilistic
    order as me winning the lotto.

  • Timon19

    What’s this about criticism of Microsoft’s behavior being “left wing politics”?

    I don’t get it.

    I have no love for “right wing politics”, but I don’t for “left wing” either. Criticism of Microsoft acting in a manner contrary to transparency does not strike me as “any” winged.

  • Timon19

    Richard, unfortunately, EULAs are not often (ever?) written with context in mind. They are purposely meant to leave as little to interpretation as possible and most statements are meant to stand alone. It’s a design of EULAs to remove ambiguity, thus being more legally defensible.

    By agreeing to the EULA, you are effectively voluntarily eliminating most legal recourse you might have on the points outlined in the EULA. You have recourse where the other party to the EULA blatantly violates the principles outlined (or not addressed) within their own EULA, but no further.

  • Richard Thornton

    I have been hanging with the Linux crowd for about 15 years and I have seen many articles, forum posts, etc., which criticize MS for basically being a big corporation, much like GE. I have zero love for MS mainly due to their Ballmer days of being patent trolls, but MS is no worse than any other big company. I never read any FOSS lover criticize other big software houses, beyond MS, or perhaps Oracle. What about CA? What about Google?, Apple, Samsung, Verizon, AT&T, IBM, Red Hat for God’s sakes with this built-in worm called systemd? Linux itself has been hijacked by proprietary software housed under systemd, and RH is now behaving much like MS and literally forcing systemd on everyone.

    Linux users should look in the mirror before they criticize Windows users.

  • Richard Thornton

    I am sure EULA’s are defendable but keep in mind, MS only retains rights over its product, Windows 10; it has no right to harm your ability to use this computer, as you see fit; I bet thats a class action lawsuit even MS would not be willing to defend.

  • Timon19

    Richard,

    MS is a huge corporation like GE: it’s a massive, rent-seeking entity that is enabled and protected in its place by the state. Google is rapidly trending that way, as they’ve dedicated massive amounts of money to lobbying efforts. AT&T, Apple, etc…same deal. This is why the general tech view on “Net Neutrality” is so overwhelmingly disappointing.

    EULAs have many clauses in them designed to define proper use of the software in combination with the hardware. This is why EULAs have to be carefully scrutinized.

    I see you’re very exercised about criticism of Microsoft. Why are you appearing to take it personally? Do you expect a site dedicated to open source to be FRIENDLY to a product put out by Microsoft?

    There are plenty of things to be worried about in computing these days. Most of them originate in the proprietary world (MS, Apple, Google). Some, like systemd have an open source genesis. You may have missed it, somehow, but there’s been a TREMENDOUS level of outcry and wailing and rending of garments over it within the FOSS community. In other words, I don’t get your “tit for tat” criticism here.

  • Mike

    I’ll answer your comment part at a time:

    “ridiculous claim that MS could force a Windows 10 user to submit to any intrusion that Redmond wants”

    The EULA is irrelevant. MS will have defacto control over all home user’s Windows 10 machines. THIS IS BAD. I wouldn’t object if they DEFAULTED to automatic updates, but provide a SUPPORTED way of disabling them for advanced users. That’s the problem with a lot of software today – it is presented as a false dichotomy between user controllable settings and useful defaults. Why does Microsoft find it impossible to provide such a simple setting? That’s the question you should be asking. That, and why should users be forced to install every cosmetic update and advertising nagware MS pushes to their machine in order to be eligible for security updates?

    “And finally, why is only FOSS good? It’s asinine to make such remarks; Some very good software is proprietary, two immediately come to mind, SAS,and MATLAB.”

    I didn’t say proprietary software can’t be useful. I said it should be avoided. This is true for lots of reasons: control, security, privacy, trust, supportability after a commercial entity goes belly up or loses interest, etc.

    “I have 5 computers in my house, 3 run Windows, 2 run Ubuntu, and 2 of the five run VM’s of OpenBSD & FreeBSD.”

    Good for you. So? I have a C64 in my basement.

  • Mike

    @Richard Thornton

    “I never read any FOSS lover criticize other big software houses, beyond MS, or perhaps Oracle.”

    Really? Well I know I certainly have. I’ve said before that while Google contributes to FOSS, they have a decidedly non-FOSS agenda, as do all corporations. You can’t trust any of them. They aren’t exactly evil (in the way Vogon’s aren’t) but they can’t be trusted and to think they are looking out for your interests is insane. I’ve also criticized Red Hat, and the steaming pile that is systemd. But just because other companies are bad doesn’t excuse Microsoft or Apple, or anyone from trying to wrest control of people’s machines from them.

    The last few years have seen an all-out corporate assault of freedom and privacy, culminating in legislation bordering on ‘evil’, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Actually it isn’t even just the last few years – it goes all the way back to the 90’s and the DMCA, but it’s gotten much worse recently. We have a moronic FBI director screaming about the need to see everyone’s…everything, all the time; claiming encryption is going to get everyone killed. Nobody has stood up to that idiot and pointed out that terrorists can send encrypted message to one another using – the U.S. postal service. Sarcasm follows – Gee, we could also prevent more terrorist attacks by allowing law enforcement goons to randomly search everyone’s homes at any time without a warrant. Wouldn’t that make everyone safer? No, people to stand up and complain LOUDLY when companies and governments try to force a non-free future on us all. FOSS is a small, but absolutely necessary, part of that. Open hardware is another, because without it FOSS can’t grant real protection or freedom.

  • Mike

    Man, I really hate not being able to edit my comments.

    “The last few years have seen an all-out corporate assault on freedom and privacy”

    “terrorists can send encrypted messages anonymously to one another”

    “No, people need to stand up and complain”

  • Duncan

    @ Richard,

    The main problem with a EULA is that there *IS* one. There’s no taking it out of context, if it exists at all.

    Restating the obvious, EULA stands for End User License Agreement. The main reason EULAs exist is to take away even more rights from the user than are taken away by copyright in the first place.

    I have a Stallman quote on my mailing lists sig: “Every nonfree program has a lord, a master, and if you use the program, he is your master.” The point being, authors who don’t make their code available to be examined and changed as necessary, particularly when they ask the user to waive rights to damages if the code malfunctions, something that nearly all authors (even FLOSS authors) do, is demanding that I waive my rights without even getting to see what the code I’m being asked to assume responsibility for how it works, actually does.

    Now I’m not against authors having the right to keep their code private if they wish, that’s /their/ right. *BUT*, if they do so they should be willing to shoulder responsibility for what that code does, since they’re not letting users actually see what it does. Were the law to nullify waiving of responsibility for authors and owners who didn’t make their code available for examination to those expected to assume responsibility for it, balance would be restored, as there’d actually be a way to see what the code did before assuming responsibility for what it does.

    And actually, such code does exist. The people who write code used in air planes and nuclear plants, among others, often retain responsibility for what it does. Of course there’s substantial costs involved with proving what a program does, and even then the liability insurance costs are sky high. As a result, such software is dramatically more expensive than software where the user assumes liability. But that’s as it should be, either make the code available for the user (or an expert they designate that they trust, should they not be a coder themselves) to examine to see what it does before making the demand that the user waive rights to damages should it misbehave, or charge prices to recover your audit and insurance costs for assuming the liability yourself.

    Authors and code owners refusing to do either one of these things simply don’t respect the basic rights of their users. And if they are already known not to respect my rights, the question then becomes one of just what sort of code they’re putting in that black-box they’re not willing to let me look in, yet expecting me to just agree to run it and shoulder liability for it.

    Of course that’s just one thing covered by the EULA. The others don’t tend to be any better.

    Better to run software that while it it does waive damage liability, at least allows you to check to see what it actually does, and to change it if you don’t like what or how it’s doing it, and to share those changes with others. Better to run software that in so doing, respects the human rights of its users.

    Which I do. And unless/until MS (and Apple and Google and nVidia and game writers and…) respects my human rights, I won’t be running their software.

    I don’t do EULAs, so don’t have to worry about whether I’m reading them in context or not. In fact, recently I bought a new laser printer, that I ended up taking back when I found that the only Linux drivers it had, had EULAs and no sources available. =:^( Oh, well, money I had actually spent on their product, that they’re now not getting, as it seems they’d rather leave that money on the table than respect my rights as a human. Their decision.

    Duncan

  • […] Yet Another Reason to Avoid Windows 10 by Christine Hall | posted on July 20, 2015 […]

  • Richard Thornton

    There is no question that open source software has been good for society, but I do not see the dangers of proprietary software the way folks on this board do; I just don’t. Not much more to say about it.

  • Jon_)

    In this case Wunder-Windows shows all of its glitter.

    Come one people, they have been using that like best Prizma friend for years, and now when they have enough money to take another blow they are ready to have people for free, if you ask me they should pay people to have that g… on pc.

    Oh,yes they have been targeting Mac users for long, just because Jobs has died, they expected to be many users that will move from that products toward them.
    Now, they target Linux users to go for them, but in my opinion if go insane ones, you are dammed forever…

    One advice for Linux developers, in order to have more games that are of good quality, they should allow Android apps to be acceptable on Linux PS, you know like some sand box or something…

    Have fun…

  • Mike Fox

    Making a conclusion and breaking it down to personal acting:
    ALL you do in order to earn money generally inhibits any human or social sense.
    So think and make your own decision – in which world you want to live or do not want to live in.
    In the context of software, choose what to support – proprietary or free – for instance windows 10 or linux without f***ing systemd!

  • Jobs for dead

    yes they target the under 2% of linux user who use outdated hardware.. get real you clowns…. LOL

    linux has next to no marketshare outide the server biz.

    microsoft don´t need these people

  • Mike

    @Jobs for dead

    No they’re not targeting Linux users. They’re targeting idiots.

  • Mike Fox

    @Mike

    commenting @Jobs for dead

    “No they’re not targeting Linux users. They’re targeting idiots.”

    I fully agree – any further comment is needless!

  • Richard Thornton

    Here is something to consider BEFORE upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10:
    http://www.siliconbeat.com/2015/08/04/windows-10-upgrade-bug-makes-some-pcs-unusable/

  • Mike

    windows-10-upgrade-bug-makes-some-pcs-unusable
    =
    windows-10-makes-pcs-unusable

    FTFY