I installed Windows 10. I turned off Cortana web search so it now only searches for stuff on my laptop. Convenient.
I also turned off all camera and microphone use. Easy enough to turn on if I need it.
Search for "privacy settings"' hit the first link and turn off what you want. (I turned off just about everything.)
I think that as long as I use privacy badger in my web browsers, use duck duck go as my default search engine, and make sure to install security updates and scan daily, that my cheap little Windows 10 laptop is reasonably comparably privacy wise to my two Mac laptops, but less private and secure than my three Linux laptops.
Seriously, I think it is a mistake to talk non-tech family and friends out of using Windows 10. Just help them make the right privacy settings.
Additionally, the worst thing is that the average Joe probably won't even notice all those obfuscated settings. Of course a power-user can disable most of it, but it's not about them and that shouldn't be a thing to begin with, especially in a paid software where we are supposed to be the customers.
The thing is, I don't think avoiding Windows 10 is an overreaction at this point.
The new business model, starting with giving Windows 10 away for free and aiming to make money on what you do with it instead, is a fundamental shift from previous Microsoft products under the Windows brand.
Finally, for most users, updates are now automatic and can't be turned off. That means any workarounds that are contrary to Microsoft's new business model can simply be turned off remotely by Microsoft. Nothing you configure in any settings or block in any firewall hosted on the Windows device itself can be trusted.
It's only paranoia if they're not out to get you.
I think it is a mistake not to talk anyone you know out of using Windows 10. You can opt out of using on-line services like Google or Facebook if you are concerned about your privacy. But if you can't even trust your own desktop OS, you essentially have no privacy at all the moment you switch on your computer. Even for a generation that thinks nothing of sharing a lot of personal thoughts and photos on social networks, that is a big step.
There isn't a new business model, and Microsoft is not giving Windows 10 away for free. What it is offering is a free upgrade to Windows 10 to people who have paid for Windows 7 or 8. This isn't really any different from iOS and Android users getting free upgrades on devices they have also paid for. It's what people expect.
> Finally, for most users, updates are now automatic and can't be turned off. That means any workarounds that are contrary to Microsoft's new business model can simply be turned off remotely by Microsoft.
You can't turn off updates to Gmail or Facebook either. Same goes for most mobile apps. Or your Chromebook.
What has changed is that Microsoft is building a cross-platform mobile ecosystem in which Windows 10 is a mobile operating system. Think: cloud-first, mobile-first, and Software as a Service. (Windows 10 will run on phones.)
Now, I'm not saying that the permissions required in Windows 10 are right. What I am saying is that the permissions suitable for a cloud-based cross-platform ecosystem* with a built-in intelligent agent and deep learning (AI) capabilities are not the same as the ones required by an old-fashioned standalone operating system, and should be evaluated in that context.
* Windows 10 devices (phones, tablets, PCs, games consoles), OneDrive, Azure, Office 365 (PCs, Macs, tablets, smartphones), Windows Store, Bing, and dozens of apps on Windows 10, iOS and Android etc. This is comparable to the iOS and Android ecosystems, not to standalone Linux.
> that new version is no longer a traditional desktop OS like previous versions of Windows
It's no longer a traditional desktop OS, but that change is not new to Windows 10. It was already the case with Windows 8.
> You also glossed over all the spyware and the ads that you can pay^Wsubscribe to remove even running basic software locally on your own system
Not really. Windows Store apps behave just like other people's store apps. It's exactly in line with the current culture of "free". I'd guess that Microsoft doesn't like it any more than you do, but thinks it needs to become like Android to prosper in a world that's averse for paying for stuff, or even thinks that paying people to write code is evil.
Windows 10 is designed for people who aren't interested in computing and don't want to be bothered with having to maintain their PC.
There's certainly a change in the technology approach, but the idea of developing point releases may have been sub-optimal for five or 10 years. The idea with Windows 10 is to use Big Data from actual usage to drive continuous improvements. Exactly like Gmail, Facebook etc.
I personally choose to pay a premium for my mobile by using an iphone rather an android precisely because I am put off by this constant intrusion into our privacy. So I am not exactly thrilled to see Microsoft adopting the google approach.