August 22, 2015

Windows 10 privacy concerns may help Linux

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
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 an evolution.
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 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 settings menu?"
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 disconcerting, a lot of what MS mentions in its privacy policy is 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 harmful material?
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