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Have you actually used Windows 10?? The spotlight is squarely on Facebook and it's privacy intrusions right now, but the data collection when you own the OS must be several orders of magnitude larger.

Don't be so eager to forgive them. They're not hugging Linux right now because they're a Good Company trying to Do No Evil.




Have you used Windows 10 Server Core, or Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB? There's no data collection in either of those, because they're for serious people.

The Home and Pro editions, meanwhile, are effectively "Xbox OS for PCs." They turn your computer into an entertainment appliance run and maintained by Microsoft itself. Of course they collect data, just like there are data-collection agents on all the nodes of your average production system cluster. When Microsoft is the sysadmin, Microsoft needs to collect ops data.

And, personally, I don't think that's a bad thing, per se. It's a choice you make. You can take control of your PC while still running Windows, if you like. (It's just a big hassle, because truly administering a modern Windows system is a big hassle.)


> Pro edition ... Of course they collect data

There's something fundamentally wrong with that to my mind, given how the Pro release of Windows has always been placed.

I should not need to get an Enterprise release to be able to manage my own machine, restrict the phoning home, and control other basic features of my machine used in a professional context. I've no need of 101 features for managing 1,000 desktops and neither have many smaller businesses who are also now landed with "Xbox OS for PCs".


I was under the impression you can disable all of the telemetry. Is that not the case ?

And Pro really refers to Prosumer not Professional.


According to blog posts and articles on tech sites there still is no way to disable all telemetry on windows 10. I don’t use windows for a long time now so I cannot tell myself.

Anyhow, it is /not/ ok for an OS to spy on their users by default - even if you can disable it manually.


By the way, is there a list of things that Windows collects about computer/user activity?



wow - that is comprehensive and terrifying.

I skimmed the list and these particular ones jumped out at me:

> Movies > URL for a specific two-second chunk of content if there is an error

> Music & TV > Service URL for song being downloaded from the music service -- collected when an error occurs to facilitate restoration of service

> Photos App > File source data -- local, SD card, network device, and OneDrive


That's only when you have it set to Full level, which is not the same as Basic level, which is pretty harmless.


Even though the "basic" telemetry data is quite the list [0], I agree that it's not nearly as intrusive as the "full" set.

> only when you have it set to Full level "you" (probably any users) won't set the level to "full"; this is the default setting (source [1]). MS only offers "basic" as opt-out (which it really is not).

[0] - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/configuration/basic...

[1] - https://www.ghacks.net/2018/03/12/configure-telemetry-window...

update: formatting


-Everything


before anyone else downvotes the parent, take a look at the URL in the sibling comment about what is captured.

they're capturing more data about you than you probably realise exists to be captured.


That's only when you have it set to Full level, which is not the same as Basic level, which is pretty harmless.


Even on Enterprise you can't disable all telemetry.

See https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/configuration/confi....


According to my pihole, with every telemetry option turned off, it stills tries to phone home hundreds of times per day.


You sure it's not checking for updates?


No, updates work fine. Some blocked domains : settings-win.data.microsoft.com, v10.vortex-win.data.microsoft.com, mobile.pipe.aria.microsoft.com, nexusrules.officeapps.live.com


Really making me want to setup PiHole now... any tips on what to block?


This is my /etc/pihole/adlists.list https://pastebin.com/ssqea2nW


You can't. It still phones home a lot, even at the lowest telemetry settings. The only edition where you can disable it is LTSB and even there it is hidden in Local Group Policy Editor.


No you can turn it down from 11 to 5 basically.


No it really doesn't.

Microsoft have marketed it to business and portrayed it as intended for professional business use ever since XP introduced the version split. Until large enough to be allowed near volume licensing SKUs, when you pass some point past a hundred seats, it's the most professional offering a business can get.

That covers nearly all small and medium businesses.


Ah, well, as long as we can redefine previously understood terms to mean something different, I guess all's fair.


It gathers a lot of info and transfers it to vast number of domains under Microsoft control:

http://www.pcministry.com/win10_telemetry/summary_stats_and_...


How much did you pay for Windows 10?


Do I, as a single person, have the option of buying a non-spyware version of windows 10? I paid $175 for windows 7... I'd pay $300 for a non-spyware version of windows but I don't think I can even buy solo windows 10 enterprise.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/WindowsForBusiness/windows-p...

Nope.. I can buy pro but I can only try enterprise.


You could buy a VS premium license with MSDN. Or would you still consider that "trying"?


Does the VS premium get me the OS?


The MSDN subscription gets you licenses for almost all MS software, including their OSes.


Same as with previous releases: an unknown, invisible, price because it generally comes with the machine. Choose Win x Pro if you want a more "corporate" laptop and get features to connect to the work network, Bitlocker and so on.

As far as I am aware the pitch has not changed - Pro is for for a business environment, Enterprise if you're in need of centralised management of an estate of machines. So no, Pro should not be taking liberties.

So now to be treated professionally I need to buy a laptop with Win 10 Pro and buy Win 10 again to reinstall it / upgrade it with Win 10 LTS? Can you even buy a single copy?


My windows 10 Pro cost me $270 when I got it on christmas sale.

I can't disable debug telemetry or cortona. If I set the options to via admin (or even safe mode) via registry edits. After a reboot I'll find them back on.


$270 USD? That can't be right. Full retail price is only $199. Amazon and Newegg both sell Windows 10 Pro retail download for $189, and Windows 10 Pro 64 bit System Builder OEM disc for $143. These aren't sale prices, just regular prices.


Not the grandparent, but in the Netherlands it is 259€ ( https://www.microsoft.com/nl-nl/store/d/windows-10-pro/df77x.... ) that is 317USD in the conversion, so that sounds about right when you don't live in the US.

Of course, these European prices already include sales tax, which the US prices don't, but even then it would still be ~250USD without BTW.

So 270USD on sale sounds like a decent savings!


Windows 10 Pro is 1899DKK from Microsoft, that's 315USD. Home is cheaper, at 1099 (180USD).


In the Netherlands it is 259€ ( https://www.microsoft.com/nl-nl/store/d/windows-10-pro/df77x... ) that is 317USD in the conversion, so that sounds about right when you don't live in the US.

Of course, these European prices already include sales tax, which the US prices don't, but even then it would still be ~250USD without BTW.


I have to wonder if the EU prices include the cost of doing business in the EU. Like paying the big EU fines.



You can disable Cortana in every version of Windows 10 from regular settings, and it even asks you upon install.

Telemetry can be set to basic in settings too, which is harmless, and it also asks you upon install.


Maybe you know this already but here's some friendly advice: You're not going to get anywhere defending Windows or Microsoft against the HN crowd.

Most of them live in a bubble and it's just not cool to use Windows or Microsoft products...so even when you're right, which you are, the most you can hope for is that they'll ignore your comment instead of spouting off some ridiculous nonsense that they actually have no clue about. And then they turn around and pimp Apple, the most controlling, selfish enemy of personal freedom with the shittiest software that you can imagine.

It's kinda hilarious to watch though.


I don't care if "Basic" setting sends harmless information. I don't want to send ANYTHING. It's my computer, I paid for it, I paid for this system and I want full control.

Full disclosure: I don't use Windows, I don't use Apple products, I'm trying to avoid using any closed-source software.


I get it, I really do - if you can live on Linux alone that’s great.

Many other people here will complain about Microsoft ads on the start menu but turn around and forgive Apple who shows you ads every time you want to update your computer via the App Store. With Windows when I remove the ad (which is just a shortcut to a non-installed app) it’s gone forever or at least a long time.

Or, they will fault Microsoft for some slight lock-in with their Mail app that nobody is forced to use and completely forgive Apple for the immense level of lock in on iOS because “Apple has always only offered that” and Microsoft is not allowed to change.

However, I have to put up with basic telemetry which is slightly annoying but not a showstopper for me. I can also install the enterprise version of Windows which I think I can get via my MSDN subscription. Either way, it is annoying but I can live with it.


On my machine right now, Cortana is Disabled in settings and Group Policy settings (you can't disable all of Cortana from regular settings, only the "Hey Cortana" and various ad popups) but the UI is clearly still visible in my taskbar.


If you select disable or disable its permissions in settings, it's disabled.

The fact that there is a Search UI on your taskbar (which you can remove with right click), doesn't imply that Cortana's data collection is enabled.


>Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB

So tell me, where can I buy that for my personal computer?

>because they're for serious people

No, because those who can get Windows 10 LTSB actually have the power to push back. Imagine telling Dell or HP that everything they type may be sent to MS at any time.

>You can still take control

So how can I permanently end all telemetry, now and forever on my box. I'm even willing to sign a letter that I won't hold them responsible for any viruses that I get because I didn't update in time.


You used to be able to download a trial off the open web on MS' download portal.

I ran LTSB for a year and it was brilliant. But on day 366 (or whever my slmgr -rearm trick ran out) you get locked out with no real way to change to a different SKU or reset without a clean install :(

There's a program called BlackBird (http://getblackbird.net/) that claims to strip out all that telemetry. I have been running it for a while and while I haven't closely inspected traffic to validate the author's claims my bandwidth monitor widget doesn't have a lot to report, rarely rising above 1kb/sec unless I'm doing something.


Hadn’t heard of Blackbird. Sounded awesome. But...

1. “Note: Some anti-virus products may detect Blackbird as malware.”

2. “Last updated: Nov. 10, 2016”

...now, not so much. sigh And I really wanted to believe.


I've had software of mine flagged by overeager antivirus just for being new and uncommon. It labels it as "WS.Reputation.1". If that's the only detection it's most likely nothing to worry about.


Thanks for the info. I’ll run clamscan over it and if it’s what you suggest I’ll snapshot my Windows VM and give it a whirl.



No issues with my AV (or at all) and I've been running it for a few years now.


>So how can I permanently end all telemetry, now and forever on my box.

Simple: you use a different OS that doesn't spy on you. Microsoft is under no obligation to provide a product or service to you the way you want. They've decided they only want to offer products that spy on you, and that's their right. If you don't like that, you're free to not buy or use their products, and use something else instead. There are alternatives out there that don't spy on you.


Telemetry is not spying.


I just built a gaming rig, and I tried really hard to get LTSB, because I don't want to use this computer for anything beyond CS:GO. Was impossible.


Good news then, because CS:GO runs beautifully on linux and OSX (not that I'd recommend the latter).


It is on bittorrent of course. Different spyware than the standard edition though probably.


Enterprise edition is almost the same as Pro. I use it as a labo PC for free. After expire, I reinstall.


Enterprise LTSB is not however, it doesn't have the Store, Windows Apps or Cortana and doesn't receive feature updates only security ones.

I use a license key from work for my home PCs and it's lovely.


That's not a tenable option for "regular people".


Security and antivirus protection exist as much to protect others as oneself, much like vaccines. I wonder whether Microsoft considers updates to be protecting the users of a specific machine from a virus, or the community at large from many machines having that virus?


The problem is, security updates should stick to security, and should be clearly separated from feature updates - especially from the ones that remove features.


OK. I don’t disagree with that but I also am not sure how it is related to my comment.

I’m not defending Microsoft, and I’m not a fan. I am merely speculating on their perspective.


I remind you, very sensitive data is handled on Windows 10 Pro machines. Or would you require each doctor to maintain an Enterprise IT infrastructure.

Here in Germany, it is still controversial whether Windows 10 machines can be used in public services at all.


Interesting GDPR situation, MS will need to tell people how they're using all that data, who they're selling to, and AIUI enable deletion of it. Organisations using software that includes telemetry will have to tell the users, as the assumption must be that such telemetry will leak PII.


Would you trust each doctor to know enough about IT security to be capable of protecting patient data without hiring someone else to run their enterprise IT infrastructure?


No. But I would expect that the government (or a doctors professional organization on behalf) publishes a list of things he is allowed to use to work with patient data. Windows 10 shouldn't be on the list in my opinion.


Nothing of personal value is logged, when telemetry is set to Basic level.


Is there any reputable audit of this? Beyond what Microsoft claims?

This is a difficult problem. The software could be audited by an independent third party. However each update needs to be audited as well. Furthermore the binary of the initial state and each subsequent update binary would have to be signed by the auditor in a way allowing independent verification of the signature.


This sounds awfully close to a No True Scotsman type of argument. Also, are you implying only "serious" people should not get speed upon?


> Have you used Windows 10 Server Core, or Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB? There's no data collection in either of those, because they're for serious people.

How does one, as a non-enterprise, even get W10 Enterprise LTSB? I would, in a heartbeat, but MS wants to shove crapvertising down peoples' throats no matter the cost. And it's logical, given that when the users with money to spend and technical expertise fall out of the advertising eyeball pool, the eyeball pool loses its worth as it will be filled with poor noobs to whom all you can sell is the latest iteration of Candy Crush and snake-oil "antivirus".


Reminds me of Android.


IIRC Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB is for Specialized systems—such as PCs that control medical equipment, point-of-sale systems, and ATMs.

I wouldn't recommend to a developer or an average user.


It's on a slower update ring and only gets security updates, not feature updates.

Sounds fine to me.


Not if you're a developer. It has all other features stripped down. Even a photo viewer is absent. Linux subsystem is at beta level, no store (there are some good apps on the store), also no new windows features (fluent design, emoji?, gpu tracking in task manager, etc... you get the idea).

Granted not everyone needs this.


"if you're a developer" might need qualification with "on win32 native products". Even then, you're targeting old windows, which is probably fine. Besides the GPU tracking in task manager, I'd say I'm better off without those features.


Not necessarily. Linux subsystem is really a helpful feature for web developers indeed.


If you buy something you shouldn't have to jump through hoops to own it. The fact those data collection features are there at all for a paid product is bad in my opinion.


Much of this comment seems like apologism to me. "Hey, it's bad, but I like Microsoft, so it's all good?"

Why would only people who pay $200 for a windows edition get (some) privacy?

Remember the days when the products you bought didn't spy on you? It seems like now companies are double-dipping or triple-dipping with this spying and selling of your data after you've already purchased the product/service.

And we're getting reconditioned to live with it and agree to it, especially from comments like yours.


Companies are double/triple-dipping with spying because consumers are happy to allow it.

Don't like it? Don't buy it. If you pay hard-earned cash for a product, and then complain that it spies on you even though you knew this before you bought it, you don't really have much cause to complain. If you really value your privacy, then put your money where your mouth is.


Windows doesn't spy on you, especially when you have telemetry set to Basic level.


> truly administering a modern Windows system is a big hassle

Why?


Yeah I have to use it for work, the machine has 16 gigs and like 8 gigs are used for MS to spy on me while I'm using it.


sigh no


Oh yeah, I've heard spying is more memory intensive than running dozens of VMs!


This is completely false and has been debunked countless times. Your telemetry data is no where near as invasive as what Facebook or Google does.


That ... is far from ok.



The corporate version of Windows 10 is different, which is where my experience lies. Good observation though.

At a higher level, Gates seems more credible than Larry or Sergey to me. Totally biased by my history, but I'm pretty strong on that point. Gates mellowed out and seems more broadly interested in "greater good".


Gates has done good work since leaving MS but I wouldn't say he mellowed out towards the end of his time at Microsoft. He was still very much proactively trying to control 3rd parties. Whether it was IRC via Microsoft Chat (which was actually a pretty cool idea but it didn't belong on public IRC servers), MSN, IE Vs Netscape wars, then IE Vs HTML wars (eg ActiveX, Silver light, etc). The whole Java wars (which did eventually give us .NET so some good eventually came of it, but it took years before .NET matured). MS Office Vs open standards (eventually we got a compromise with OOXML but it still feels like the battle was lost given every other office suite used the non-propriatory ODF).

And this is all without going into how he tried to destroy Linux, control UNIX, successfully destroyed competing DOS platforms (eg DR DOS), blocked OEMs / shops from selling PCs with competing OSs (or was it machines without Windows preinstalled? I forget now), ruined EeePCs and their form factors (by selling With dies at a loss), etc.

I think the only reason Gates didn't try his luck with data collection was because it simply wasn't a thing back then.

That said, I do still respect the guy even though I disliked his products and how he monopolised the market. Which is more than I can say about Balmer.


Yeah, for some reason I'm ambivalent about Gates and always have been. Microsoft hasn't been run by him in a long long time though.


That's interesting! I had a hell of a time turning off all the nasty intrusive bits for my friends and parents. I should take a look at this version.


Yeah, personally, I think Windows for home users is a dying market. My wife and kids use either ChromeOS or OSX. Everything has moved to the web for younger people. Fat client apps are increasingly the exception. Very niche...like "I need Adobe tools, Photoshop, etc".

Office 365 is accelerating that. No need for local Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.


Windows Is For Games™. Despite the existence of things like SteamOS, I don't think your average e-Sports player is going to run anything besides Windows any time soon. Windows Home/Pro is essentially "the firmware for a custom-built Xbox."


Currently, Windows 10 is also the only non-bullshit OS for tablets - one that makes it a productive device, instead of purely consumer one. Alas, tablets ain't very popular anyway, so I doubt this impacts Windows numbers much.

I'd guess Microsoft gets most Windows sales from regular people buying regular laptops with Windows preinstalled. Most of them probably don't even know there is something else other than Windows.


Interesting. I am now curious about the demographics. How many Windows 10 users are there soley for either games or Photoshop, or Illustrator, for example?

I instinctively feel like ChromeOS and OSX (and mobile OS variants) are going to kill Windows desktop off. But I'm also aware I might be off base.


Maybe on US.

Around here ChromeOS is a kind of rare animal hardly seen on any consumer shop, and when it appears it is usually tied to some promotion to get rid of those in stock.

OS X is everywhere on northen Europe big cities, but go south or to the country side where many people dream to go over the 500€ barrier and it too becomes a rare animal.


Even if you are over 500€, there is no 'just buy a Mac' attitude.

Maybe it's because a computer is a significant expense, so people value price/performance more,

or maybe because schools have Windows PCs and nobody is used to OSX from young age.


Windows still has almost 90% market share, so it's not going to be killed anytime soon.

For gaming, it's pretty much only choice, Macs have no hardware to handle them, and for Linux, I've tried switch many times, and it always been a hassle.

I've ended up with Ubuntu for work and Windows for everything else.


Pretty sure a recent update to Wine allows you to run Photoshop in Wine on Linux


1. Gates was bad at Microsoft

2. Gates left Microsoft.

3. Gates is good now.

4. ???

5. Microsoft is good now.

Unless there is some weird "conscious uncoupling" thing that made them both better, what could step #4 be?


The last I checked, Microsoft doesn't create shadow profiles of people who don't have accounts. Nor does Microsoft make it hard to turn off privacy, or sell the data to research firms in an attempt to create profiles that be used for advertising or manipulation. Also, the last I checked all this attention to Windows 10 data collection usually includes a comprehensive list of how to turn it off. Finally, when you set up Windows 10, one of the setup screens actually lists out these options and gives the user the chance to turn them off. You could argue that these should be left off by default, but I'd argue that allowing developers to collect telemetry data for debugging purposes, and forcing people to keep their computers updated is a good idea, since most normal users don't bother.


Company histories asside, someone had to develop a hardened kernel--and they had to be big enough that the client could sue in the event of a problem. Redhat comes to mind, but I honestly can't think of a better company than MSFT to own this (and the associated libility).

It makes terrific financial sense for them to take ownership, liability (and revenues) for a product class their native technology can't compete in.


It’s pretty trivial to disable the data collection on the home version, and the corporate version doesn’t have it. For work Linux is perfect, for games Windows is still the better choice. Luckily nothing stops people from having both on the same box.


Windows is better for my kind of work.


Ubuntu is following MS lead and introducing data collection by default in 18.04. Google also have a couple of linux based options that are built with the sole purpose of collecting your data.

MS for all their faults are at least still in the business of selling operating systems and not selling you.


For Ubuntu is a checkbox at install, this is a big difference between that and 20 hidden switches in registry that each stop different spying code and also get reset by mistake at each update.


Sorry, but a zero tolerance policy of is the only way to stay sane. I don't have time to keep up with every policy change and update on what every app and tool I use has done lately.

I ditched windows for a reason (several, but privacy was one) and I've got no intention of checking every 3 months how far down the slippery slope ubuntu has gone. And they will go down that slippery slope because it's abundantly clear that they as an organisation they don't value privacy.


You are spreading FUD, for some reason a person that has no tiem to read the privacy settings checkboxes you are aware of the latest FUD campaigns, the latest one is about the program that collects hardware info at installation time, this is not tracking you, it is an option to send hardware info upsteeam so developers have real information, now everyone has to quote the Steam survey and this source is gaming focused.

Also, you can use distros based on Fedora/RedHat if you are a Canonical hater.


> for some reason a person that has no tiem to read the privacy settings checkboxes you are aware of the latest FUD campaigns

Because it happened to be mentioned in a preview video I watched on youtube. What happens in 3 months when they change that policy and it get's past my radar? This is FUD canonical have created by not taking privacy seriously.


Watch sources that do not spread FUD, same video sources probably praise Valve and Steam but get triggered but that checkbox because is enabled by default, (also don't use Ubuntu if you doubt the direction it is going but don't spread FUD)




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