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Windows Now Showing Full-Screen Ads (howtogeek.com)
599 points by tasoeur on Feb 24, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 358 comments

With Windows 10 doing things like this, and Windows 7 being aggressively deprecated, I decided I finally wanted to ditch Windows as my daily driver. It was good timing, then, that I watched the "7 Gamers 1 CPU" video from LinuxTechTips, which showed me how to do it without sacrificing gaming.

Most everything I use runs in Linux, and for the few things that don't I can spin up a VM. But there's the caveat that is as old as Windows itself ... gaming. Dual booting isn't an option for me, because I tend to run various server VMs 24/7. I also didn't want a second tower just for Windows; that's non-ideal. But wait! Apparently modern CPUs have this fancy thing called IOMMU I never knew about, which lets you give direct access to PCI-E devices, like GPUs, to a VM.

So I bought up a 5820K, a X99 motherboard, and an extra graphics card, and away I went. I now have Arch Linux running as the host system where I do all my work. Windows 10 sits in a VM where it's given direct and exclusive access to a GTX 970 for graphics. So far, things are working well and Windows runs the benchmark apps just fine.

The end result is that I can use Linux as my daily driver, but flip over to my Windows VM whenever I want to game. It keeps Windows isolated, which is great from a privacy/security perspective, I don't have to dual-boot, and best of all I can spin up different VMs if I want to use the beastly GTX 970 for other work like machine learning. Thanks to using the 5820K which has a few Xeon features in it, the entire process when smoothly. The biggest caveat is I haven't found a DisplayPort switch yet, so I can't hook up the Windows VM to my primary Cinema monitor, and I haven't nailed down the mouse+keyboard thing yet. QEMU's virtual mouse+keyboard doesn't normally work with these kinds of VMs, so you have to hack it in, and even then it likes to randomly stop working. I could just grab a second set of physical mouse+keyboard but that's not ideal. Steam Steaming will probably be the best option for now.

The link to the video by LinusTechTips for anyone interested[0]. He actually had a heck of a time getting it working fully with all 7 graphics cards, as shutting a VM down wouldn't correctly release the card's resources (apparently an AMD-specific issue, but they denied it[1]), causing him to have to do a full reboot of the whole system every time one VM needed a restart[1].

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXOaCkbt4lI (14:57)

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lThX7UovKCc (1:35:15 - really long stream of him disassembling it live, so forgive me for not finding exactly where he said each thing).

Here's the link to where he talks about AMD on that stream https://youtu.be/lThX7UovKCc?t=34m

Sounds suspiciously like this hardware quirk[0] that was only supposed to affect Hawaii/Bonaire... Guess it's a little more widespread. Easily fixed, I guess[1].

Then again Nvidia cards have their own set of horrible problems too, although theirs are somewhat on the side of malicious intent rather than incompetence.

[0] - https://github.com/qemu/qemu/blob/master/hw/vfio/pci-quirks....

[1] - https://github.com/qemu/qemu/blob/master/hw/vfio/pci-quirks....

Holly crap, I always dreamed to achieve what you did and never knew direct GPU access was possible, even though I used Qemu for work before.

Right now I am basically running a windows pc for gaming and a linux laptop for work. It seems IOMMU is compatible with all my gaming tower, and with many modern cpus/chipsets. I will make a test over a live CD anb if it works migrate my whole pc and blog about it.

Thanks very much for the ida

What's your blog url?

Just general disclosure that Steam on Linux does have 1600 games now, and at least a few dozen AAA titles. I have no problem gaming on Linux like any console owner would - if it releases for my platform, awesome, new games. If it does not, it might as well not exist to me. I have no shortage of games to play (I still have to beat Witcher 2 and I'm 20 hours in... 3 years later). And Blizzard stuff / anything older than 2010 runs perfectly in Wine nowadays, and with Gallium Nine I can play Skyrim on my 290 at its max DX9 settings at ~100 fps.

1600 "games". most shouldn't be called such because of their quality.

vanilla skyrim never required a good computer... its a different story if it's fully modded, but i doubt you've done that, as you'd be pushing 30 fps with a 290 in that case

How much of a performance hit do you get running a VM with vtx and vtd versus running windows bare metal?

Is it as simple as it seems? I'd love to switch over to a VM for windows games backed by vtx and vtd, but I've been worried that it'd be waay more work.

I tried this a while back. My results can be seen at http://miffe.org/bench/

The largest problem is that the NVIDIA driver refuses to work when it detects that it's in a VM. The workaround is to hide the VM status for the guest os, by using -cpu host,kvm=off and disabling the tweaks that makes windows work better (hv_time,hv_relaxed,hv_vapic).

Wow, that's a great resource! I'm glad to see your disk benchmarks were also all over the place. I couldn't seem to make much sense of CrystalMark's results, even when increasing the test size above my RAM size to eliminate caching. I'm using virtio to an SSD dedicated to the VM and saw, like you, some markers were better in the VM than they should be, and some where significantly worse. Very weird. Luckily I won't matter for gaming.

If you made a nice blog post about this, in detail, and shared it, a lot of folks would find it extremely interesting!

A better workaround would be to buy AMD GPUs.

I always wonder why they don't really advertise this to gamers as a feature at which they are better than nvidia.

Thats my plan. I got the GTX 980 for free, so I'm using until the next gen AMD cards are released.

> How's much of a performance hit do you get running a VM with vtx and vtd versus running windows bare metal?

I've seen research that shows the GPU being 98-99% when using QEMU/KVM. I haven't used the system long enough to accurately quantify my personal experience.

> Is it as simple as it seems?

For me getting the GPU working was the easiest part. It worked on the first try. The hardest part was finding good docs (Arch wiki & VFIO blog), trying to understand their little ecosystem, and finding the right compatible parts (hint: besides the CPU, it's really easy). I'd never used QEMU/KVM before (I used VirtualBox previously) so that was a big learning curve. It seems like things have matured quite a bit since the VFIO blog wrote its articles, as a number of things had changed and become easier.

Does "getting the GPU to work" mean you can give your Windows VM exclusive rights to the ports on the back of that graphics card as well? That would be amazing.

I'd love to, say, run a Hackintosh setup with Windows 10 in a VM that could fully utilize it's own GPU + external ports -- this way I could use a modern VR setup (Oculus or Vive) without having to use Windows full time!

In fact, that's the only way to do it. This VFIO/IOMMU setup virtualizes the PCI-E port itself. It routes the PCI-E port that the graphics card is plugged into to the VM. So the VM has exclusive and direct access to that PCI-E port. Therefore, the GPU, the ports on it, everything hooked up to that PCI-E port belongs to the VM. Most importantly, this also means the GPU's SMBus for temperature monitoring is also routed and owned by the VM. From the VM's perspective it isn't any different than a physical card.

You can also route USB hubs to it the same way, sound cards, etc.

A coworker of mine has been wanting to do this for ages, and I've always wondered - what's the workflow like for getting the mouse and keyboard from the Linux screen to the Windows screen?

For the past few years I've been running two desktops side by side (one with Windows and one with Linux), then use Synergy to get from one to the other painlessly.

When I next upgrade, IOMMU might let me consolidate the number of PCs available, but only if it's relatively painless to get from one OS to the other.

So, there are several ways to handle mouse+keyboard that I've seen.

1) Virtualized Mouse+Keyboard. If you've ever used a VM before, this is what you most likely are familiar with. You click within the VM's window, it captures your mouse and keyboard, and then everything is like normal within the VM. To release, you hit some special key combo and your mouse+keyboard is released back to the host. The VGA Passthrough setup that we're talking about doesn't normally support this method in QEMU/KVM, but you can hack it in. For me, it works as expected, except the mouse+keyboard randomly stop working for brief periods of time every so often. So... not great.

2) Synergy. I've seen this method mentioned a lot, so I guess it works. I haven't tried it. I've heard there are occasional issues, and sometimes Synergy will stop working so you need some kind of fallback method to get back into the Windows VM to get it working again. Probably this method plus method 1 above as a backup will work well.

3) USB passthrough. You could get a second mouse+keyboard, and then use USB filtering to pass them through to the VM. I haven't tried it; it probably works fine if you're okay with having two mouse+keyboard sets on your desk.

4) IOMMU USB passthrough. Similar to #3, but you use IOMMU to give an entire USB hub to the VM. This is likely to have the least number of issues, as it gives direct and exclusive control of a USB hub to the VM. Whether you can do it or not depends on the USB hub configuration on your mobo or whether you feel like adding a USB PCI/PCI-E card.

5) KVM + USB passthrough. Use a KVM and then USB passthrough of some kind (#3 or #4 above).

6) Steam In-Home Streaming. Steam In-Home Streaming can be hacked to share the entire desktop of the target machine. So you could use this to not only handle keyboard+mouse, but also video if you don't want a second monitor and/or don't want to use your existing monitor to switch HDMI/DisplayPort. Since the streaming will be done locally, latency will be very low, but this will burn some CPU/GPU resources. VNC is also an option, but will likely fallover for video games/watching videos/etc.

Hah, I can't escape Synergy. Which is ok, I use it 24/7 because it's an amazing, peerless piece of software.

But yeah, modern synergy crashes pretty often. There was a lag in development a few years back when it looked like synergy was dead, but the most recent version at the time was sooo stable. Now synergy has more features but tends to crap out or start dropping your clipboard every few hours or days.

If you're connecting multiple Linux machines (I suppose it would work for Mac too) then you can hack in this fix that I came up with:

Have a once-a-minute cronjob on the server tail the synergy log. Grep the tail for "server dead" messages and restart the server. Grep the tail for "client dead" messages and ssh into the client and restart synergy.

You have to use commandline synergy for this to work of course, but you probably want that anyway - otherwise you have to log in to each machine with a physical mouse and keyboard and manually start synergy at each boot. synergyc and synergys are your friends.

I can't believe I've never heard of this before. I'm honestly astonished! Thanks for your reply, I can't wait to try this.

Keep in mind there's more to it than pure frames per second. You also got latency and jitter to worry about which is vital but almost always ignored, probably because it's difficult to measure and understand. Doing it properly still required special hardware and software I believe.

Indeed, I've seen some talk about latency/jitter issues on the vfio mailing list. I haven't tested it myself yet, so we'll see how it goes. Though I figure things will just naturally get better over time as the kernel's support improves.

I'm happy to hear that gaming works well, and apparently my decidedly older CPU (AMD Phenom X4 965) supports the technology as well, which is interesting to learn.

However, my main reason for needing Windows is for music recording and mixing via Cubase and other DAW software. This requires really low-latency access to my USB and PCI sound cards.

Does anyone have experience with running applications like this in a VM? Is it feasible?

I would be thrilled if I could finally move to Linux or FreeBSD entirely and just keep a Windows 7 VM, all sandboxed up with no Internet access, just for the music recording.

The simplest thing to do of course is just try it. You can install Windows in a VM without a product key and try it without limitation for something like 30 days.

That said, "really low latency" is relative. Device assignment will give you excellent I/O performance in terms of sending data to/from the device, particularly for bulk DMA transfers. Where you (likely) still pay a penalty is in terms of interrupt delivery, as on most chips these are still routed through the host even in "passthrough" mode. Even so, you're looking at delays at the outside on the tens of microseconds scale, depending on which microarchitecture you're on and how well tuned the fiddly bits of your hypervisor (presumably KVM for most users) are. Some configurations will be much better behaved here. If your audio hardware goes into polling mode (or can be made to do so) when it is recording you can potentially avoid the interrupts entirely.

(source: I work on Google Compute Engine, in particular on virtualized networking, historically on performance. Virtual interrupt delivery latency is a topic near and dear to my heart, although I don't know a damned thing about audio gear and its tolerances there :)

I personally install KXStudio[0] for guys just like you almost monthly. here's some appropriate[1] pornography[2]. Imagine being able to have a skype call with someone, and be able to record their vocals (provided they have a good mic) apply effects, and then record _and_ pipe the vocals back to the vocalist in realtime. Or make recording snippets of audio off youtube trivial. Or stream live instruments in other rooms over wifi/ethernet using only a raspberry pi and a good microphone. Or stream 8 of those tracks/instruments (on different devices) to one computer for mastering/final mixing. It's audio nerd nirvana, basically.

What you need: Wine Wineasio (for Wine support in FL Studio or others) KXstudio

1. http://kxstudio.linuxaudio.org/index.php 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBD-wsMiZCk 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhfmGGPcwNc

For lack of a response from someone who has actually tried getting ASIO working on such a setup, I suggest you just try it. Grab a Live CD and a spare external hard drive and just give it a whack. Passing through the sound cards should work. USB might be trickier if you're not just passing through a whole USB hub. But considering how new IOMMU is, I imagine the intersection between people who have tried it and people who use Cubase is incredibly tiny.

I have found that a lot of the audio editing software you can get away with quite low specs. I record my podcasts on a 8 year old laptop running Windows XP. It rarely connects to the internet and I record to a thumb drive that is backed up so there is nothing to lose on it. In this particular case something similar might be the best option. For pod-casting anything over 2 or 3 ms in my headphones throws me off my game.

Unlike podcasts, music recording and mixing is extremely CPU intensive. Especially if you run a lot of analog simulating synths and stuff.

Virtual CPUs with VTx can be made to run at essentially native speed for most workloads on most fairly modern CPUs. Memory performance can be subpar, although there's public documentation on techniques that can improve that: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/KVM%20-%20Using%20Hugepage...

I/O performance is a whole other story, dependent on many workload and hypervisor specific factors.

I stand corrected.

Really, the 965 supports it? I have the 970 and was under the impression the Phenom II's in general just don't support it. Can you show me where you found that information?

It would be amazing if you could write a separate post with further details. I think many people here would love to know more.

There are many guides about this, just search for something like "VGA PCI Passthrough"


For anyone that tries this route, following random tutorials on VGA PCI Passthrough is a route to sure frustration and time wasting (I tried it ~2 or 3 years ago, whenever I built my previous PC). You have to make sure your video card, motherboard chipset, audio, and anything else you want to pass through are all supported. It's much simpler if you can just follow a list that says "this combination of hardware + software works perfectly."

All I did was check the Wikipedia page [1] for IOMMU-supporting hardware, and I needed to upgrade my CPU from a Phenom to FX. You don't need special audio, just the right motherboard (chipset specifically) and CPU. If you do PCI passthrough, it doesn't matter if the Linux host can talk to the card, the guest OS will take care of everything.

Otherwise, check the forums. This has been done many times over the years, and there's no shortage of existing information.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IOMMU-supporting_hardw...

Seriously did people even click the link? This is not some insidious full screen advertisement . . . it's windows spotlight.

You were allowing Bing to show you random photos by enabling this feature. If you didn't want that, then disable it . . . give a break. Ads on installers have been common for ages. Ubuntu shows advertisements . . . this is out of control with the fear mongering.

But the enabling by default of advertisements in the OS is certainly something I'm not comfortable with, no matter how pretty the ad is or how simple it is to disable.

Is there a write-up on this that you can recommend?

The Arch docs are super helpful on this, even if you're not running Arch: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PCI_passthrough_via_OVM...

Do you have a link to a recommended tutorial?

The VFIO blog was the best resource I found. Start at the first article (http://vfio.blogspot.com/2015/05/vfio-gpu-how-to-series-part...) in the how to series, work through that, and then read all the other posts on there. It's also helpful to use https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PCI_passthrough_via_OVM... , as that covers some of the things that the VFIO blog glosses over and it's a little more up-to-date. This is all bleeding edge stuff. For example, VFIO broke in a recent Linux kernel and only got fixed and released in Arch's repos a few days before I started my installation :P

Agreed, this the same info I followed to get Elite Dangerous working in a Windows VM on a Ubuntu host. Feels very nice to have Windows not as the root of a machine.

I've done this too! I was able to do it with my AMD FX-8350 and GA-990FX-UD3, as they both support IOMMU. Passing through my R9 390 to the Windows guest, and the only issue I've encountered the whole time was having to disable hardware acceleration for flash videos.

The whole KVM/Qemu ecosystem is great.

It's so nice for KVM and Xen to support this.

I'd wish virtualbox would support pci pass-through. Virtualbox being the default and most used vm with vagrant it would be awesome to spin up a linux vm with pci pass-through, so you can have a machine learning vm with cuda.

VirtualBox does support PCI passthrough. See https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch09.html#pcipassthrough

I have never seen someone who actually got it to work. I read somewhere where it might be possible with a Linux host and a Linux guest. If anyone was ever successful with a windows host and a Linux guest I'd love to read how...

This was the last straw for me. My current chipset doesn't support the VT-D stuff, so it's an excuse to shop around for an upgrade. Figure I get a board that supports the integrated graphics, run Linux on that, and then pass through my GTX980 to a VM.

Thank you very much for this post, this had been one of the things I've wanted to do for so many years but never knew if anyone else found a proper way of doing it, every time I would google this I would end up with bad results.

I just bit the bullet and kept my gaming machine on Windows 10 and built a whole new Debian machine for all my dev work and personal computing.

I would prefer to drop Windows entirely though and was looking forward to SteamOS making strides in this area but it doesn't look too promising.

WINE solves a lot of problems but it's not perfect, and a lot of games still don't work with it according to its compatibility database.

I would really appreciate a write-up, or link to a step-by-step guide on this as well.

I have a 5820K as well, with a GA-X99-UD3P motherboard and 32 gigs of quad-channel DDR4 RAM, and I dual-boot Linux and Windows. Windows just has Steam, and I do all my work on Linux. It would be wonderful to not have to reboot and switches OSes and just run Windows off a VM with full graphics performance! :)

Have your tried Synergy for your mouse/keyboard situation? Another possibility is perhaps a KVM switch that if you plug in two outputs into the same computer that it is recognized as two distinct USB devices. I don't know if it's possible but then you could pass through one to the VM directly.

Synergy is decidedly non-optimal for gaming, unfortunately. Various games try to grab the mouse pointer in different ways and synergy throws a wrench into at least some of them.

you can bind a key to switch to relative mode.

since switching to VM based gaming about 6 months ago I've played and completed: SC2 LOTV, Bioshock Infinite, Crysis 1/2, and The Talos Principle and have not had a single problem.

What is your CS:GO rank?

I haven't played CS since 2001

piggybacking on top comment. I have yet to work through this process, but there's this write-up for doing this in Ubuntu I found a few weeks ago:


Any chance you have a parts list for your build?

My build: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JVsKYJ

I splurged on an M.2 PCI-E drive. 2 GB/s read!? How could I turn that down? No way I'll ever use that drive to its full potential, but I love the M.2 form factor.

Only thing I'd change is using AIO cooling for the CPU and the S340 instead of the H440 case. I had to use the H440 for the air cooler, and that was not an aesthetically pleasing choice. The H440 also has a number of obnoxious problems.

Not OP but, if you're interested in building your own PC and need some guidance, check out the Build A PC reddit. They're extremely helpful and knowledgeable in there. https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc

Another similar resource is overclocking https://www.reddit.com/r/overclocking

Yeah this is not a good move; thankfully for now it can be turned off as explained in the text of the article.

I also want to know more about this, care to share it? Thanks!

Have you considered: you don't really need to play video games anyway

It's not something that requires explicit consideration: probably anybody you ask will tell you that no, they don't need to play videogames; people who play them normally do it because they enjoy it, not because they need to.

(It feels weird to have to explain that.)

Have you considered pausing before hitting "reply" and asking yourself: "does this comment add anything? does it have anything intelligent to say?"

You don't really need to do anything that doesn't provide for your economic well-being. Some things a just for fun and that's great!

You don't need to provide for your economic well-being either.

Right, who needs hobbys or fun anyway. /s

For those of us who live fairly far away from our most excellent friends, yes, I need video games to play with them. I look forward to my weekly game sessions to drink a beer and hang out with them. Even something as simple as a board game is well suited to a video game with voice chat, and those often are primarily and only built/tested/supported on Windows, making fpgaminer's notes very welcome.

Nor do you need to be on Hacker News...

You do need to relax and unwind though, and video games are a great way to do that.

No, you don't need to play video games, but they can be a lot of fun.

However, it's important to note that you don't need Windows 10, or Windows at all, to play good video games. All the best games play using emulators, since they all came out in the 70s-90s. And Linux supports emulators like MAME and MESS just fine.

I don't need to play Go, learn guitar, read books, watch movies or travel either, but I still do those things because they're fun.

Seems like the only way people want to make money these days is through invasive advertising without the end-user's explicit consent. Granted the expectation of free software is driving most of this, but it starts a vicious cycle because those who get annoyed with them develop countermeasures, which the creator responds to with more aggressive ads, ad infinitum.

It does start explaining some of the highly controversial telemetry MS was collecting in Win10 - turning everyone's PCs into billboards.

Having read the article, this is about the "Windows Spotlight" feature -- which shows you a different wallpaper just before you log in. For me it's usually the default "cave and beach" wallpaper[1] although it's shown interesting photos from time to time, so I've left the feature on. It's on by default but pretty easy to disable.

Not sure how I'd feel if it started showing me blatant ads. I'd probably just turn it off. And if they annoy me too much, well, hello Mac or Linux.

I'm going to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here, they're still trying to figure out what "Windows as a Service" looks like. Note that Google has ads on its homepage and even Apple delivers ads via push notifications, breaking its own rules in this regard[2].

[1] http://betanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Windows-10-lo... [2] https://marco.org/2014/12/01/app-store-rule-5-6

That cave and beach is by my house in New Zealand. Was super confusing when I saw it on someone elses computer as well and realized the photo wasn't one of mine

Is that Cathedral Cove?


Nice, I was there last week :)

I saw this too. If it didn't have the tiny text there that said "Discover the adventure inside." Then I'd hardly consider it an ad. It is then almost "free" wallpaper. Which I frequently have to go out and find for games I actually like and play.

It's such a fine line between delivering something people want without them having to ask for it (nifty feature), and shoving things down peoples throat (ads). I really hope they address this properly.

I have a hard time calling this an ad. It was one of the wallpapers released for the new Tomb Raider game, and it's a pretty nice lockscreen picture in it's own right.

It's sponsored content, which is still advertising, just that it's not a "native ad".

Hopefully they'll fix it soon so people can't disable any of this stuff, and the ads get really blatant and annoying.

It's just like the old adage about boiling a frog. Except that in reality, frogs aren't actually that stupid, and will jump out of the pot when the water gets too hot. Humans aren't that smart.

Except windows isn't free. Even users who upgraded for free initially paid for a windows license (at least outside of China).

Paying for the privilege of seeing adverts. So fundamentally MS.

I'm so glad Win7 will be supported until 2020.

It's more prevalent than you would expect. People pay for cable and magazines. People even pay to become walking ads when they buy brand name clothing.

edit: comma

When I was still reading paper magazine, the first thing I did when I received a new issue of The Economist was to shake it over a garbage bin to remove all the inserts and tear up the card board insert in the middle...

I remember that process used to be called 'deboning' the magazine.

Hahah, I did the same.

It was either the Economist or FT that did a cost/benefit analysis of removing those inserts for their already-subscribed customers copies, and found that it would cost more in lost new subscriptions to remove them.

> it would cost more in lost new subscriptions to remove them.

How does that make sense?

I guess because people are reminded weekly to resubscribe or buy subscriptions as gifts.

I dunno if it applies to me since I would habitually forget to resubscribe until they sent me the YOUR LAST ISSUE wrapping like an invasive Santa Claus.

Opportunity cost of lost subscriptions. A certain percentage of those inserts will convert to new subscriptions, even if the person receiving the insert was already a subscriber.

Some of those inserts were invitations to subscribe to the Economist.

For a while, there were people who used to drop them all in the mail.

Force the publishers and advertisers to pay the postage for them with the idea of making it less profitable to include them with the magazines in the first place.

I used to do that, back in the 90s in college. First I just put tons of trash paper in business-reply envelopes and drop them in the mail, then I started filling them up with gravel.

Years later, on the internet, I remember seeing some article about people doing this, and they had pictures of things like business-reply envelopes attached to bricks, which the USPS had received. IIRC, they said that the USPS didn't actually send these or charge the business for them, unfortunately.

So stick with just dropping them in the mail as-is, to make sure the business gets charged for it.

One time, back in the 80s, American Express had some kind of disagreement with the union that my step-father belonged to and the members of his union went out and every time they'd see the American Express credit card applications, they'd take them all and send them back in blank.

They had been told that each application cost a dollar to have mailed and processed.

I was a child so I never cared enough to ask about the details of the dispute and I don't know how long they did this, only that they did.

Wow, that really brings me back. I remember reading on Quora TE's chief editor explaining that the reason digital and print subscriptions were the same price was because digital ads were easier to avoid or block and were worth less to advertisers than print ads, which are more prominent and harder to ignore (unless you fold it over, but even then you'll certainly notice it).

those cardboard inserts made the best joint filters

With magazines, at least those for very specialized audiences, the ads can actually be quite useful. For a general interest magazine, like TIME, or Scientific American, the ads are just filler for me. I'd rather have an ad-free version of the magazine.

But for something like QST (a ham radio magazine) where almost every advertiser is offering something I have an interest in, and where there are no physical stores in my area where I can go to browse the merchandise in person, the ads do a great job of keeping me current on what is available but are easy to ignore when I'm reading an article. I'd be disappointed if QST was ad-free.

My brother cut me a login to his Comcast Xfinity. I tried watching "The Magicians" on syfy.com--- and there's 100 seconds of ads, six times over a 45 minute show! It makes the cliffhangers and pauses even more obnoxious. I'm going to go back to torrenting.

No TV/cable, but on a trip recently I tried to watch syfy on the hotel TV -- and it was more ads than show. I can't believe anyone puts up with it; I swear it was five minutes of ads and five minutes of movie. No thanks; I'll just wait until things come to Prime or Netflix.

Yeah, if you stop watching TV for a few years, trying to watch again after is really jarring. The volume-boost of ads, while not as bad as it used to be, is still pretty obnoxious, and the sheer quantity of ads makes shows much less enjoyable. I really believe that our parents are the last generation to really put up with all the ads, and our generation will just torrent / wait for Netflix / Prime or something else with minimal ads. The days of paying $100/month for 60 channels with linear programming spending a third of their time on ads are numbered.

Unfortunately the industry's response to people avoiding explicit ads seems to be including ever more product placement. At least I can skip the ads with my PVR. Better that than having immersion in a show I enjoy totally broken by some blatant product logo or, worse, a really out-of-place line delivered dutifully but still awkwardly by an actor whose character would never say that.

Possibly the only more annoying thing in TV is when some totally out of place, usually bright and animated logo pops up a couple of minutes before the end of the show I'm actually watching, usually with a boxy ad for some other show on the same channel next to it. Way to completely ruin the ending of the current show.

It won't be too long before someone figures out how to de-product-place a show. Your dvr will scan for brand names like "Dell", "HP", "Ford", etc., and blur them out. The audio can also be similarly processed. Eventually, we'll only see what we want to see, which is what "on demand" should be!

I don't know about other people, but I put up with it using a DVR and liberal use of the fast-forward button.

When cable TV first came out, way back in the previous century, one of the benefits was supposedly going to be no commercials. Because you're paying to receive it. Now I'd guess more commercials are delivered via cable (and all those channels) than broadcast.

This is precisely why my household got cable, and precisely the reason why years later we stopped having cable.

Too bad about Intel dropping support for Skylake and newer CPUs on Windows 7.

you mean Microsoft dropping support for Skylake

Can't drop something that doesn't exist.

You can drop something that doesn't exist but was announced. Thechnically Skylake support for Win7 wasn't announced, but the effect is the same since there was an implicit expectation that the feature would come.

>Thechnically Skylake support for Win7 wasn't announced, but the effect is the same since there was an implicit expectation that the feature would come.

From where did this implicit expectation come from?

Windows 7 mainstream support ended in Jan 2015 and that was known since forever.

Extended support implies:

>Microsoft no longer supplies non-security hotfixes unless you have an extended support agreement

>All warranty claims end

>Microsoft no long accepts requests for new features and design changes

But I presume dropping support just means not being able to use the latest features.

Even a very old system image of windows 7 will run on the very latest skylake. It doesn't need the very latest updates. I doubt they will create a kill switch in a windows update that refuses to boot if the system detects a too modern CPU.

They can refuse to provide a signed driver for the platform, but like you said it is unclear how far they will go.

Still better than Chrome endig support for Windows Vista this upcoming April...

It seems weird in the computer world...

but I see a ton of paid cars driving around with advertisements stuck on the back too

The logos and model numbers on cars seem to be about as weird as having Microsoft's name and logos around the OS and the logo of the hardware's manufacturer on the outside of the machine. Unless you're talking about dealer-provided license plate holders. Those are much easier to remove than most of the logos in software would be.

It seems weird in the computer world because unlike with your car example, the ads actually track you.

Unless you installed the tech preview. I didn't pay a dime for Windows 10.

People want free. Things aren't free. But people want free, so let's give them "free" and monetize them indirectly with surveillance, invasive advertising, etc.

The entire Internet has gone down this road since it's very hard to compete with someone who is giving something away for "free" (note quotes). Free has given us George Orwell's bidirectional it-watches-you TV set.

Free was fine back when people paid their ISP or university to host their pages for them. The stuff put up by hobbyists was a lot more interesting in general anyway.

Free didn't ruin the web, advertising did.

Yeah, except Windows 10 actually does cost money. And the people who pay for it still get to see ads.

It seems like the only sure way to avoid all this tracking crap in Windows 10 is to pony up for the Enterprise version (which is basically impossible if you’re not a business).

I want a fully supported OS that will see upgrades. I'm willing to pay. I guess that means OSX or Linux for the forseeable future.

I used to think PCs that were sold had some vendor bloatware, but now the OS itself is bloatware.

Were Stallman & Torvalds simply precient for their viewpoints 20+ years ago?

I wouldn't put Torvalds in the same category as Stallman here. IIUC, Torvalds initially made Linux free simply because he was doing it for fun. Now he couldn't change the license if he wanted to, and he's getting paid to work on it anyway. In any case, it seems that he's always been much less idealistic about software freedom than Stallman.

What's the difference between OSX and Windows, in your mind? It's even more "free" than Windows is, since you can't buy it separately and all OS updates for the last few versions have been free.

Telemetry: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/08/even-w...

Can't disable unless it's Win10 Enterprise or Education editions (does any PC sold come with Win10 enterprise or education editions)?

Not quite the entire Internet has gone that way. However, it's frustrating seeing sites that offer original content with paid access being criticised all the time, as if they're somehow evil or trying to rip visitors off by honestly charging a reasonable price for their work instead of giving it away for free and making a deal with demons to fund it some other way. This is what we get for letting $0.99 ifart apps become the benchmark for a whole generation, I guess.

>it's very hard to compete with someone who is giving something away for "free" (note quotes)

There's at least one very promising competing model: give something away for free (note lack of quotes) and offer people the option to pay.

In the software world we usually do that by using the free version as advertisement for a better paid version, Patreon (and Dwarf Fortress etc) show that the model can even work if paying offers no notable advantages.

I agree with your point but I doubt that something published by such a large company which many consumers have a distaste for ("my stupid computer is always blue-screening; I hate Microsoft") would be able to sustain such a huge development effort on just donations.

Edit: if it were open-source and they paid some people to work on it still, that would be...interesting.

I believe getting enough people to donate on a regular basis requires two things: a certain amount of customers have to be real fans of your product, and they have to be aware that the product ceases to exist if nobody donates.

Both aspects are a challenge for software: most people see software as a mere tool, and most people don't see the need for updates (and in fact see them as annoyance).

That's why a twitch streamers or youtube creator can easily get decent amounts of donations while donation buttons in software go completely ignored in almost all cases.

Open source is the one existing model in software development where donations work with some consitency (though donations are mostly in terms of development time, and some widely-used projects still go completely ignored).

For closed source there's are a few working examples with passionate fanbases (mostly games), but for the most part we haven't figured out how to do this well yet.

Arguably, with where the TVs nowdays are going; that story haven't even started the plot.

Isn't pretty much all advertising everywhere "without the end-user's explicit consent"?

Websites, TV, radio, print media, billboards, sides of buses, posters in public bathrooms, Disney-branded kids' food at the grocery store, product placements embedded in actual Hollywood movies, desktop search in freakin' Ubuntu...

I didn't sign up for seeing ads in any of these. They're just an implicit part of the social contract in 2016.

You can block websites, only listen to radio channels without ads, switch to another TV channel when ads are coming up, use print media that have no ads but are subscription financed, etc.

In many cities you’ll even find that bus advertisements are toned down, and in public bathrooms there are no posters either.

I don’t remember when I saw or heard an ad the last time, but it was not this week.

I don't remember signing such a contract. So I would say these are not consensual

>Seems like the only way people want to make money these days is through invasive advertising

Edit: I see "want" in there now..

Microsoft had over $12BB in net income last year, so I'd hardly say the "only" way to make money is through invasive ads like this. I can't really explain why they do this (other than "why not?"), but any revenue from this is sure to be a drop in the bucket.

It's not a drop in a bucket, but a drop in Windows sales. By giving away free upgrades to Windows 10, revenue for Windows has dropped. This is their answer.

If only there really was universal expectation of free software. Then we'd really be getting somewhere.

Software will never truly be "free" because someone pays for it to exist.

It has upfront fixed costs and variable costs to maintain, which need to be covered by the developers, users, advertisers, or some combination of the three.

By that definition nothing can be "free" (as in beer), there's always someone paying for it (even if it's just opportunity cost). For any useful definition of the word free there can also be free software.

Yep, also called TANSTaaFL (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch).

Which is the point in context to someone saying "If only there really was universal expectation of free software...". With IP, the costs are hidden and it's easy to fall into the trap of expecting it to be totally free.

The problem with TANSTaaFL is that it uses a completely different definition of the word free than normal English. Normally the word free only references the price paid by the consumer, not the cost of production.

If I give you a lunch without asking for anything in return, and without inconveniencing you, that's a free lunch for you. Of course somebody paid for it, but that doesn't stop me from giving it to you for free.

>Which is the point in context to someone saying "If only there really was universal expectation of free software...".

"I get my software for free but be offered the option to donate" is the model that's giving us Dwarf Fortress. It's free (as in beer) software in any useful sense of the word free.

Oh definitely, the "with donations" is also TANSTaaFL since it acknowledges costs. You're just arguing semantics.

I don't think they meant "universal expectation of free software with donations only".

Are you talking about free as in freedom? I think gargravarr meant free as in cost.

I did. But as discussed elsewhere on this page, libre software has its own set of drawbacks.

Microsoft added the Spotlight feature last year, and this is pretty much exactly what it was billed as: if you don't have a lock screen image of your own, you get random wallpaper images from Bing, and also occasional app offers and tips. You can upvote/downvote the offers to personalize the suggestions in the future. It's an app discovery mechanism, and you can turn it off by picking your own lock screen image. I don't know why it's only in the news now. This isn't the first time wallpapers for an app have been in the rotation.

I'm fine with jumping aboard the hate train for things like the Office ads but this seems like a pretty non-issue and I agree with you. Just like the Google Play widget or notifications for the App Store on iOS; Windows is doing the same-thing but with a lock screen background.

I'm not sure if this is a default (I thought it wasn't; it certainly wasn't when I bought a Surface a couple of weeks ago). If this is a default then I think that should be changed but beyond that? Not a big deal. Let's focus on other Windows 10 issues that should be addressed versus this.

I look at it as a part of a larger arc of issues. Windows is going fremium.

I feel like advertisements as a direct component of an operating system have crossed a line. This is like when Ubuntu started advertising amazon products in their launch bar. It crossed a line.

Yeah, and the worst part is, Windows 10 actually does¹ cost money. And the people who pay for it still get to see ads.

It seems like the only sure way to avoid all this tracking crap in Windows 10 is to pony up for the Enterprise version (which is basically impossible if you’re not a business).


¹ — http://www.microsoftstore.com/store?keywords=windows+10&Site...

Well there is some truth to the pervasiveness of Windows 10 that at times makes it feel like it may be toeing the line with freemium (I'm looking at you Microsoft bundled games though that technically happened with Windows 8). I'm not really convinced this is it though. I mean do you have an issue with the Play Store widget or the iOS notifications of new apps? Seems like the same thing to me except less interaction with the Microsoft one.

Granted, as I said before, this wasn't a default on my Surface but if it was then that's not cool and they should change it. But as far as its existence goes? I don't see it as an issue. Honestly if it let me filter to a crazy degree I would love cool images for some of my favorite or upcoming games. I could be in the minority with that last point I'll admit :)

Amazon Kindle does the exact same thing with their "Special Offers"

Only on the Kindle With Special Offers which is priced lower than the standard Kindle. A way more upfront approach. It's literally in the title of the product that you are purchasing something with advertising on the lock screen.

> Only on the Kindle With Special Offers which is priced lower than the standard Kindle.

There is also advertising on-by-default on the full-priced Kindles, but they call it 'Recommended Content' . It takes-up a chunk of the home screen.

Easy enough to disable but it's still advertising.

But they aren't the same at all. Kindle is literally ads, with big text, calls to actions, discounts, etc. This wallpaper is 99% a wallpaper, 1% an ad.

This comment should be unreadably light gray by now. Amazon’s ads are such as explicit part of what a customer is buying that it’s in the title of the product Amazon is selling: “Kindle WITH SPECIAL OFFERS.” Microsoft isn't even calling these “ads” in the SPECIFIC FEATURE TOGGLE that controls it.

“Exact same,” my ass. You ought to be ashamed.

Yeah but you get the benefit of paying a discounted price for a Kindle with "special offers"

> Yeah, but you get the benefit of paying a discounted price for Windows 10 with the free upgrade.

I think this is somewhat less intrusive than the Kindle Special Offers, which is already not very intrusive, but both are still advertising.

Which means that Amazon should be excoriated for their misbehavior as well as Microsoft, yes...?

Does anyone find it unpleasant how these new OSs are increasingly embedding online content everywhere, presumably opening many network connections and using bandwidth while increasing attack area unnecessarily? The start screen tiles in Win8, which continue into Win10's start menu, are the most obvious example here.

It isn't that I hate the Internet or anything like that; I've certainly spent long hours online visiting various sites. Nonetheless, the idea of some parts of the OS that --- by default and with no explicit action of the user --- at some undisclosed time, reaching out somewhere to some server that I have no idea of, and retrieving content to be rendered on my machine, just doesn't feel right to me. If some of that "promiscuity" resulted in malware being installed, it would be extremely difficult to determine the cause; according to the list in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10053622 , Windows 10 by default contacts a rather large list of domains, many of which are third-party and not even Microsoft-controlled.

As I write this post I have a total of one network connection from my machine, an IM client; and at all times I am aware of what connections it's making, and which processes are doing it, so there is nothing unaccounted for. That's the way I like it --- my machine does not "talk to strangers" without me being unaware.

Yes! As Windows moves closer to an ad-supported model it's only going to get worse. All the bloatware was bad enough, adware is taking the abuse of OS users to a new level.

Personally, I like it a lot, but I don't think Microsoft is going nearly far enough with it. For instance, what if a machine isn't connected to the internet, as with a lot of corporate and government systems? Hopefully, after everyone (esp. the government) has switched to Windows 10, they'll roll out an essential update which will require all systems to be connected to the internet for telemetry and advertising purposes, and these features should not be able to be disabled. This even goes for government computers handling highly classified data. These computers should simply refuse to run without an internet connection for phoning home.

Since customers have shown over and over that they're willing to accept any amount of abuse by MS, I think MS should just go for the gold and screw their customers over as hard as they can think of.

I was shocked and very worried when ads for Microsoft Office started popping up in the Action Center (10's centralized notification area) last year. When I wrote about my concerns on a Windows forum, most pf the responses were along the lines of, "why are you complaining, Windows 10 is free." If people no longer feel that they own their operating systems, then there is no check on Microsoft's behavior. Inevitably, ads will become personalized and telemetry that Microsoft now uses to improve the operating system will be used to improve ads. The challenges to privacy that we currently experience online will expand to the desktop.

The Microsoft Office one is far worse than this example.

I actually had Office installed and was STILL seeing those annoying as heck notifications. That was just blatant and annoying advertising.

All this is, is you're opting to receive dynamic lock screen images that rotate constantly, Microsoft threw in a few ads. It isn't ideal but you you get something in return (a constantly changing set of lock screen images from Windows Spotlight).

With the Office thing you get nothing in return, it is just irritating and pointless.

> I actually had Office installed and was STILL seeing those annoying as heck notifications. That was just blatant and annoying advertising.

Same thing here. I don't see how hard could it be to verify that the Microsoft account I have used to create a Windows account has an Office 365 subscription.

This behavior is caused by a preinstalled modern app called "Get Office", which you can find in your Start Menu's All Apps list. Along with it's brethren "Get Skype", right click and uninstall both. The fact that these apps are unable to tell that you already "Got Skype" and "Got Office" is definitely irritating.

Sandboxing. The apps would probably need permission to read your licences from AD to "get it".

Who at Microsoft is pushing for and developing this junk?

Honestly, I've done a lot of support for seniors and non-technical users, and I'm absolutely positive there are people getting feedback like "we don't know where to get Office" and the like. And that decisions like this (along with the questionable methods of streamlining Windows 10 installs for Windows 7 and 8 users) are primarily motivated by a desire to make Windows not seem harder to use than popular mobile platforms.

But there's been a huge breakdown, I think, in realizing that it's not correct to treat all users the same way. The fact that my Pro-licensed, domain-joined PC auto-installs Candy Crush on it is kinda an indication they're missing this critical piece.

What is the harm done? Of course you don't "own" your operating system. You also paid nothing for it. I also struggle to grasp the double standard of why Google, Facebook, et al are able to endlessly track and personalize ads, but when Microsoft follows a similar model, there is outrage.

The argument that Win10 is free won't hold for much longer, it's only 'free' if you upgrade from Win7 or 8. It's already being sold retail in stores for a similar price to the old versions. And from later this year, people will have to pay for upgrades too.

On the flipside, you don't "own" your software anyway, you own a license to use it (EULA).

The double-standard probably has something to do with the ability to block most of Google's ads and tracking, or use another search platform if you really want. This is the OS on top of which you'll be using all of your other software (web platforms included), and it's impossible to control what is going on in the background.

While I agree with the difference, it should still be possible to block these types of ads with some kind of firewall. Unless the OS is blocking the blocking at a lower level (which I'd be VERY surprised by), something like Privoxy and using that as the system proxy for http[s] should be able to knock these out if they're loaded dynamically. I haven't tested this, so it would require some inspection and network monitoring to figure out what's serving these. Some hosts file entries may even be enough.

I think that's different because you are subverted the OS's attempts to advertise to you. Most people are not willing to go to this level. Changing search engines is not subverting Google, it's just not using their product.

Just paid $119 here for a windows 10 license. Do you know of a better deal - for hardware that never shipped with a (subsidized) windows license?


Reddit has a pretty robust sale of windows licenses for $15-25 and then you can upgrade them from 7 to 10 if you want to go cheaper.

edit: I don't necessarily know about their legitimacy, and I've never used them myself.

I expect to own my operating system in the same way that a tenant owns the interior of building. The landlord cannot walk into the home uninvited. The landlord cannot install cameras or listening devices in the home. As Justice Roberts said in Riley v. California (which also applies to computers, surely), "Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.'"

>I expect to own my operating system in the same way that a tenant owns the interior of building. The landlord cannot walk into the home uninvited. The landlord cannot install cameras or listening devices in the home.

Yeah, and I want a unicorn that farts rainbows.

If you continue to use Windows, you're going to get all kinds of uninvited stuff you don't want. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Sit around a whine?

Personally, I love this stuff, and I hope MS makes it so people can't disable it, and even requires that all Windows PCs must be connected to the internet at all times to phone home, or else they stop working.

> You also paid nothing for it.

Windows requires payment, just not in dollars. The data gathered from "telemetry" (spyware) is valuable.

edit: I'll assume from the downvotes that some people want to pretend that pattern-of-life data isn't valuable

> I'll assume from the downvotes that some people want to pretend that pattern-of-life data isn't valuable

I'm pretty sure it's from people who either payed for Windows and just got a free upgrade, or who directly bought Windows 10. Computers with "free" Windows obviously also have the price of Windows factored in. The closest you get to free Windows is with Dreamspark (their MINT student program), and even that costs money for the university.

Like many in posts in this thread, the "free" I was replying is the Win10 upgrade. Unlike previous upgrades that cost money, many people instead had to pay for that upgrade in data.

Obviously Windows is sold in other forms, and new pre-built computers still have a Windows Tax.

I really don't like this direction that MS is heading. I'd rather they charger for Windows 10 and newer and not start bundling software and pushing ads by default.

Also, fuck buying games off the Windows store, Steam and any other service that locks you into DRM. My steam client in Linux is hopelessly broken due to updates. Some of my games will still play, but most require the stupid Steam DRM layer. I should have bought them off Humble instead.

Steam is the best of a bad bunch really - it's not perfect, but it's much fairer than other platforms. There's another article on HTG (linked from this one) that outlines the differences between Steam and Windows Store, and Steam scores quite highly. I was very surprised when some of my older games suddenly popped up as being available on Linux for no extra cost. When the Steam DRM works properly, it's pretty non-invasive.

Can't deny Humble have it right though. This war over DRM was fought with music and non-DRM has mostly won. Maybe something similar will happen with games.

gog.com is the best option out there in my opinion. A strict no DRM stance, with sales on par with Steam's. You can download the installation binaries once and install offline as many times as you like with no extra effort, so there's no worries about losing your entire collection when a Russian script kiddy hijacks your Steam account to facilitate Counterstrike item scams and then Steam bans your account and says "we will no longer respond to further inquiries and consider this matter to be closed".

Humble Bundle also has a DRM-free option for many of their games. They have a similar online library feature as well. But they have a lot fewer games.

Gog is great for consumers, not so much for developers. The terms of their contracts are not particularly friendly to developers. The specifics are all NDA'd.

Disappointingly, GOG's stance on "no DRM" is far from strict. Some of their titles require online activation or authorisation for multiplayer.

The music and drm war was totally won by Spotify/Etc.

Which is like drm on steroids. And kind of exactly what people were warning drm would lead to - you don't own any music. But damn it's cheap and convenient.

As an ex-media hoarder, I am fine with this.

The major benefit of owning music was that you could consume it easily on-demand. Since streaming services have expanded their libraries, delivery channels, and made songs available offline, there are less competitive benefits to actually owning a digital copy.

As a still-music-hoarder, I tried Spotify Premium for a while, but decided I didn't want to pay for it - I spent about the same cost monthly in new music, but if I stopped paying, I'd still have free access to all that music with no ads, and be able to play it all on any device with or without an internet connection (e.g. the old iPod connected to my car stereo). Streaming is certainly convenient, but they make it very difficult to walk away once you commit.

That's weird, because the variety of new music I listen to each month greatly exceeds the $10 price tag to own it, by magnitudes. Even if you pirated, the time spent each month finding, managing, and evaluating torrents is worth $10.

With the money saved you could always just purchase the songs if the service stopped.

I don't see how it could possibly cost $10 for this service. I do most of my music listening in my car, so using a streaming service would require using my cellular data connection to access this music. Cellular data isn't free, it's charged by usage. So playing hours and hours of music a month over a cellular data connection would cause my cellphone bill to balloon.

Much cheaper to just buy it.

And that's neglecting the fact that my data connection is spotty anyway. Fixing that would require buying a new Verizon phone and subscribing to Verizon, so that's probably at least $150-200/month right there, plus whatever the phone costs.

You can save music offline on your device, as if you owned it, so yes the cost of streaming is just $10/mo and cheaper than buying.

This was already pointed out, so I'm beginning to think you have some sort of cognitive bias against streaming services. Who are you really trying to convince, me or yourself?

Except music went DRM-free by 2009. Spotify didn't launch in the US until 2011.

GoG is pretty great [1]. Their games are DRM-free and their windows client is super clean - I only wish they would hurry up and release for Linux.


Many of their older games work great under Wine / DOSBox.

Definitely. I was talking about their galaxy client.

Really? The best thing about GOG for me is that I don't have to install yet another crappy client.

I actually prefer the client, but gog works just as fine without it. To each their own.

I'm in the same boat. Steam was DESTROYING my PC for a long time. I couldn't figure out what it was and finally tracked the random spikes and focus losses to Steam's update service being corrupt. Re-installing Steam means uninstalling everything you've downloaded with steam, possibly losing save games and stuff like that, then having to wait for everything to re-download and install. There are ways around it, which I found later but I had already screwed up half of my downloaded games because I had assumed that I would be able to just do a uninstall-reinstall on it without losing all of my stuff. Total garbage. I will definitely not be using anything like steam, in the future, if I have any choice in the matter.

Sorry you got burned, but I installed a whole new primary drive and didn't have to reinstall all my games. There's also a backup feature that you didn't use.

Games have also generally always put their saves in your documents folder.

I appreciate it might have been an easy assumption to make, but it's even right there in google searches instant answer thing[1] so it must be a common question.

It obviously caused you a lot of hassle but steam's wildly popular and mainly loved, not total garbage. I'm really only commentating to make it clear to non-steam users that this poster has a minority opinion on the service, it's been years since there was any wide user dissatisfaction in steam (mainly when it first came out).

They even recently added a no-questions-asked refund system if you bought a game in the last 2 weeks and have played the game less than 2 hours[1].

[1]https://www.google.com/search?q=does+uninstalling+steam+dele... [2]http://store.steampowered.com/steam_refunds/

> Games have also generally always put their saves in your documents folder.

Many games do, but there are still plenty that put them elsewhere. You probably want to use something like Gamesave Manager [1] to find them all.

[1] http://www.gamesave-manager.com

Not to mention the steamapps folder is easily transferable (copy+paste)

You should have backed up your games first. That's pretty easy. You can even install steam into an existing library folder and it will find all the games.

> Re-installing Steam means uninstalling everything you've downloaded with steam

This is not true. Delete everything apart from the steamapps and userdata folders (which contain all your games and related data) and the Steam executable.

Next time you click it it will redownload and install itself and all your installed games will be intact.

Except they actually are¹ charging for Windows 10. And even if you pay for it, they still shove this tracking crap down your throat.

It seems the only sure way to avoid all this tracking crap is to pay for the Enterprise version of Windows 10 (good luck with doing that if you’re not a business though).


¹ — http://www.microsoftstore.com/store?keywords=windows+10&Site...

Or at least give a paid option for no user monetization and monitoring.

Ever since switching to Windows 10 I have found myself using Ubuntu more and more. To the point where I mostly boot Windows 10 once a week just to keep it and some software up to date.

I like some things about Windows 10, for example the new snap features for programs is nice, overall the system looks quite nice as well. Their virtual desktop implementation is kind of lacking but at least it is there. Explorer is actually quite decent these days as well.

However it just keeps pissing me off. I use SumatraPDF as my PDF reader, it is a great program. I can't think of a time when it hasn't worked perfectly yet for the 5th time now Windows has helpfully informed me it had to restore Edge as the default PDF reader for "reasons", of course I have no idea what these reasons are!

I have Office 2016 installed and yet the stupid "Get Office 365" bullshit constantly nags me and reinstalls itself when the Store does some background updating. I had to hunt down a bloody PowerShell command to force remove it.

Oh yes and in Microsoft's infinite wisdom they auto-install Twitter and Candy Crush Saga on my so-called "Professional" version of Windows which I paid for on a new machine!

Honestly it is a fucking horrible experience. Their own modern Universal apps are garbage. They release these totally shit apps with the idea that "oh we can update constantly via the Store!" but the apps they are releasing are just plain awful. I have used tech demos that work better ffs.

I honestly can't stand the Windows 10 experience. The new way of doing things is just horrible. I end up using Windows 10 just like I used Windows 7/8 with Win32 apps because there are still not any good Universal apps as the platform is just garbage by the looks of it. I mean if the maker of the platform can't even make decent apps what does that say about the platform?!

Ubuntu isn't perfect but at least it doesn't fuck with me every other day to the point where I just want to walk away from the computer.

Yes Linux still has some rough around the edges but I have found that installing Chrome makes everything web-related "just work" as well as on Windows. Netflix? Check! Flash? Check! Also TIS-100 has a Linux version so that keeps me happy :)

There are Universal apps which I actually like: Mail, Calendar, Weather, Edge, OneNote, Groove. I feel like your comment is over-exaggerated.

Weather is the only app that I actually use. Groove is a joke, Edge is a tech demo and a pretty poor one at that. OneNote is junk compared to the Win32 version. I don't use Mail or Calendar as I find web applications work so much better for my workflow.

> Their own modern Universal apps are garbage

Totally agree with this.

For every modern Universal app there is an old Win32 desktop version that runs, performs and probably even looks better.

The only one I've use regularly is the Netflix app, because it seems to be the only way to get 5.1 surround sound on my desktop. The browser version does not seem to support it.

Still, the Netflix app UI is god fucking awful compared to the website. It's such a chore to navigate and find things.

Yeah Netflix will only do 5.1 in the app sadly. I think Chrome and Firefox are limited to 720p as well, only IE and maybe Edge does 1080p.

I didn't even realize that it was an advertisement. But if it is, it's not the first one. The Beatles images shown in December were then probably also technically ads for the just-released-on-streaming Beatles catalog.

Disclosures: I work at Microsoft and really don't like advertising-supported products.

I still remember the last time I used Windows (outside of a VM for testing.) I had been given a Surface to develop on for my video game. At one point, it started playing an advertisement as a part of the operating experience. My reaction:

1. What is happening?

2. Why is this happening?

3. How do I shut this off?

4. Who the hell decided this was a good idea?

5. Where's the nearest trash bin?

That particular example does not seem too bad.

I personally would have just assumed the ad to be yet another random lock screen image. Which I like for the most part.

Yeah, by the author's standard, any nice picture would be an ad for the photographer.

Pretty picture of a New Zeeland countryside? Ad for NZ tourism office.

Pretty picture of a data center chockfull of network equipment and mainframes? Ad for IBM and Cisco.

Microsoft have been doing that since Bing, show a pretty interesting picture with a little icon to know where that picture is from. It just happens that one is from a game.

People are so tired of obnoxious and disgusting ads that they tend to forget why they hate obnoxious and disgusting ads; because they are obnoxious and disgusting. Then they go on an irrational crusade about every picture, awesome viral video, mystery public campaign just because it originates from a corporation.

Thank you for being the only one in this thread not in an unreasonable panic.

It's a very attractive piece of high quality concept art. It doesn't even have a logo.

Is it for a game that they sell? Yes. But come on. This is one of the least invasive advertisements I've ever seen.

This is about as tasteful as they could've gotten and I applaud them for their choice. It's visually appealing concept art showing a cool setting, and it's completely devoid of logos and obtrusive indicators of brand. It doesn't say "TOMB RAIDER" in the corner. There is a call-to-action, but it's absolutely tiny, and takes you to their Store app, not some sketchy website.

This is product placement at it's best, really. It's subtle, attention-catching on its artistic merits, and stays out of your way if you're uninterested.

I'll even go as far as suggest that this is exactly the kind of advertising I'd prefer, if we must have advertising (that point can be debated).

When I was a kid and learning basic manners, there were certain things taught that separated good from bad.

And you know, advertising methods are starting to look a lot like pure rudeness to me.

It wouldn’t be socially acceptable to walk up to somebody sitting on a park bench and just start randomly bothering them. It wouldn’t be socially acceptable to just start dumping signs all over someone’s front porch and gluing them to the windows of the house. Why, then, aren’t companies downright ashamed (and publicly shamed) when they create a product that feels the need to periodically pop messages in front of the user’s face that are by definition completely unnecessary to the function of the product?

Build a product; make it nice; make it functional; and make it show things to the user only when necessary. Anything else is mere distraction, and frankly taints the product’s perceived value.

We are spiraling down into a cesspool of “free” products that tax users with a thousand needles every day.

We used to know how to pay $40 for software, or even $10, and demand better. We need to return to that.

And look what Google did with Chromecast - beautiful, national geographic style pictures you could sit and watch for hours. Clearly there's a team spending money at Google to create the best experience for me.

If I went into a business meeting and Laura Croft showed up as my screen saver so MS could pocket $0.000001 for showing me an ad I would go ballistic. And I'm a MS guy. It's these type of shortsighted ad-in-the-os decisions which are making me doubt the future of MS as a serious company.

Lara, not Laura.

This is the price for the "free" upgrade to windows 10.

I really don't like this trend of turning your personal computer into a thin client, where its properties can be manipulated remotely by the vendor like if it was a web app.

This is why I stayed away of products like Windows 10 and ChromeOS.

Why Chrome OS?

> ... turning your personal computer into a thin client ...

Because, ChromeOS seems to be mostly about web apps, thus can suffer from the same issue that this post describes, for example.

Probably a good time to remind people about ReactOS: https://www.reactos.org/project-news/reactos-040-released

One day it may be the only way to use Windows programs without this kind of end-user harassment.

> One day [ReactOS] may be the only way to use Windows programs without this kind of end-user harassment.

There's a lot of code sharing between ReactOS and Wine. For the most part, Wine works really well to run Windows software... there's no need to run an entire somewhat-Windows-compatible OS that has limited hardware compatibility when you're just interested in running a particular Windows application. [0]

However, I expect that you neither meant to imply that Wine wasn't a good option for running Windows software, nor that work on Wine was likely to stop before work on ReactOS stopped. :)

[0] Edit: To be clear, I'm quite aware that the task that the ReactOS devs face is monumental. I also acknowledge that those devs have put in a lot of good work over the past ~eighteen years.

Malware straight to the lock screen now? Wow. This behaviour just goes to show the advertising industry still has no idea about real-world concerns and opinions on advertising. I wonder how long it'll take for this to start getting farmed out to malware brokers/bidding platforms that Microsoft's MSN uses, such as AppNexus, AdSpirit etc.

In your opinion, what is malware?

Microsoft's advertising. Specifically, those they choose to do business with allowing exploit kits to deliver malware payload, such as cryptolocker-style viruses.

So you're assuming that the channel this tomb raider wallpaper came through is able to transmit a virus? Or do you have knowledge that it's true?

I know that Microsoft are not to be trusted with advertisements, and this is advertising. Who knows what executable code, like javascript, fonts or GDI+ objects, are involved with the wallpaper? If not today, what about tomorrow?

This is not specifically malware, just a blatant ad, but I expect it's only a matter of time before someone exploits it.

Upload a booby-trapped image, let Bing categorise it and let the bombs start falling...

"When the item is free, you are the product" is the lesson of this past decade. I am at least repeatedly learning this over and over again.

According to this page[0] the item is $119. That's not free.

[0]: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Windows-...

It was sold to the public as a "free" upgrade.

"Free" in that context is what I am referring to.

Yup, they are having their cake and eating it, too. Free for 10% of the PC users, the rest 90% will pay for it, but because of those 10% we're also going to serve everyone ads, too.

Yea, and what I suspect you will probably see over the next few days is people saying that "it was free so it was ok!"

> "When the item is free, you are the product" is the lesson of this past decade.

A more accurate lesson would be, "if the item is free, and often if it is not, you are paying for it in something other than money, or are receiving benefits incidentally to someone else paying for it."

Win 10 isn't free.

I'd agree that is a better way of putting it.

That doesn't necessarily hold true for FOSS, though.

Oh man, it's absolutely true for FOSS, unless you develop FOSS purely because of idealogical reasons, Richard Stallman-style. FOSS development can be turned into reputation and popularity, which can be turned into cash. It's much easier to get your startup off the ground (or find a good job or decent clients as a contractor, etc.) if you have 10,000 Twitter followers, because you write popular FOSS.

Which is exactly how FOSS is supposed to work. You give away something free of charge and available to everyone and you're getting something back from your users.

That doesn't make the software's user "the product" though. In your case the developer is making himself the product he tries to sell, not the users. This is really not comparable to advertisement and data collection.

But the user is not really 'the product' in any meaningful way. The developer's reputation from having +1 user does not have a negative impact on the user like advertising does.

Telling people not to trust anything they don't have to pay for seems a really obvious footgun for FOSS.

FOSS isn't free. You are being "paid for" by other people donating their time to make many, many people happy.

That's at least my way of looking at it.

But the user is not the product in the case of FOSS. No-one is taking advantage of you as is the case when you, the user, are marketed to advertisers.

Yes, this is a cliche now.

It's so funny to watch MSFT completely miss the lessons that have turned Google into the World's Most Valuable Advertising Business.


Look at Gmail: http://imgur.com/M8RF1TV

Look at Yahoo Mail: http://imgur.com/Cjwxspc

Look at AOL Mail: http://imgur.com/ZeaIe1L

Which email product do you use?

Which would you rather use?

The advertising business that is sustainable is owning the user at a moment of high-intent, aka SEARCH.

Slapping ads all over my login page is a great way render the fat from brand advertisers into short-term revenue gains at the price of ENRAGING me.

MSFT get the tracking and the ads the fuck out of my kitchen and my OS or at least give me a REAL way to pay you for a clean, no ad version!

Eh. I don't use Gmail because their login page is ad-free. I use it because my workflow is better.

I was expecting your screenshot to show the minimized amount of ads within the inbox. But you could argue that Outlook is reasonably minimal, Gmail is only text, and Yahoo/AOL are panelled ads.

You don’t see how advertising is a drag on workflow? It shows you down and takes brain cycles.

This is the exact reason why Google is so valuable- when I use Google, I'm actively searching for something, so I'm happy to see relevant ads in my search results.

If I search "bike shop London," I want to find a bike shop in London, so if I see an ad for a bike shop in London, I'm ecstatic, and I'll probably go there.

When I go to check my inbox, on the other hand, that's because I want to see what email I've received. I don't want to see ads there.

This is the inherent problem with Facebook/Twitter- I go to Facebook/Twitter to find what my friends are up to, not to search for something. I have no interest in seeing ads in my Facebook/Twitter feed.

I think Google is massively overpaid for what it does at this point.

In your scenario, you've decided you want to 1) buy a bike 2) from a brick and mortar store 3) by going there and talking to them. Your mind is made up. Why does your local bike shop have to pay Google to show up in those results? What if a bike shop uses its budget to advertise on Google instead of training its employees, you'll go to the one that's advertising instead of the good one, because Google is playing middleman on intent. I don't like there being economic incentive to mess with my research when I've already decided what I want.

On the other hand, I like AdSense. If I'm reading an article about commuting problems in the Bay Area or on how to buy a car for cheap, ads for bike shops might be helpful. It turns out that SF is a good place to ditch the car and commute on your bike because the weather is so good. That's new information in the moment I'm making the decision, not re-ranking existing information when I'm trying to find something more commoditized.

The problem is the Google has built a legitimate monopoly on search, and they're extracting the value they can from it. Sure, it's based on being a better search engine than everybody else, but it still frustrates me that they're taking their monopolists cut.

>> I don't like there being economic incentive to mess with my research when I've already decided what I want.

The effects of this are subtle, but it could be that they are pretty big.

Just look at Google removing forum search from it's engine - so instead of reading discussions among people(and some shills, sure), most people often read commercial stuff or crap journalism.What does that do to democracy ? consumer choice ?

That's why it so smart.

I proactively do not click on adwords or suggested links or anything. In fact if I see an ad for bikes shops in London I will scroll down and click on the next link.

Agreed. Clicking advertisements encourages advertising. Google's actual results are far more relevant than any paid placed advertisement anyway.

Clicking advertisements also helps to pay for the service you are using for free. In the case of google search the ads don't significantly diminish the product, so I'm happy to give google a bit of ad revenue.

>Clicking advertisements also helps to pay for the service you are using for free.

Yeah, well, I'm part of the 47% in this situation.

Same here. I "trust" the Google algorithm to show me the most relevant search results first, but know that ads are not part of that ranking. So if I'm looking for the most relevant result I'm clicking on the first results after the ads.


You realize MS s number 5 and Google is 4... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_corporations_by...

This is why Amazon is Google's biggest competitor in search.

Personally I wouldn't be willing to pay for an ad-free version of an OS that you are already paying for.

What? Who paid for Windows 10? I thought Windows 10 is supposed to be free?

It's only free to upgrade to it. If you buy/build a new PC you have to pay $100 (or more) for the privilege of being shown ads on your login page.

There's no way to get Windows 10 for free. Either you pay for an old version of Windows and upgrade or you buy Windows 10.

I hope this is snark.

> Slapping ads all over my login page is a great way render the fat from brand advertisers into short-term revenue gains at the price of ENRAGING me.

Exactly. And the advertisers usually don't benefit either. When I was looking for a password manager, I saw Dashlane listed and it looked like a decent product … but I didn't click on it or research it because it had kept showing up on my Firefox homepage, and I associated "ads in my Firefox" with "Dashlane". Sure, I had more brand awareness, but it didn't do them any good.

Just FTR, GMail puts quite a few ads in the inbox though. And until a few years ago, GMail also had fancy images and (internal only) ads on their login page as well. I didn't particularly care about those, though, because I usually never see the login page. But I do agree that GMail's advertisement is a lot more lightweight than other email services I have used (rediffmail? inline ads anyone?)

Although presently I just use GMail's https://inbox.google.com which hasn't shown me an advertisement yet.

Well that's a fairly misleading comparison. Where is the screenshot for Outlook.com which has no ads either?

Not to mention the fact that Gmail is valuable to Google because it gets people to sign in in all the browsers they use, allowing them to track them via cookies on all Google properties including search.

The "World's Most Valuable Advertising Business" does things like track which physical stores Android phone users and Google maps users on iOS visit.

Plenty of Android OEMs install adware and bloatware, sometimes which cannot even be uninstalled, so I guess people are already conditioned to this.

And yet when I login into Gmail, I see several ads on top of my inbox that are styled exactly like mails, except they have a teeny-tiny yellow "Ad" sign next to them. I'd rather have huge ads than deceptive ads that pretend to be content.

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