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Microsoft Advertisement Inc. (neil.computer)
285 points by neilpanchal 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 209 comments



We've been using this tool to strip out unwanted Microsoft 'features' such as Cortana. Its a powershell script you simply give it your Windows ISO and it lets you remove applications and services you don't wanted installed. It creates a really awesome Windows OS. I highly recommend it.

https://github.com/DrEmpiricism/Optimize-Offline


While I'm glad these efforts exist, it's wrong to have to fight my operating system in this way. In my experience, it's a losing battle. Microsoft seem intent on having full control of your system, and they are in a position to take that control as and when they like.

The occasional nods towards the technical crowd, for example WSL & VSCode are distracting us from the very large elephant in the room.


> it's wrong to have to fight my operating system in this way.

Your operating system? This isn't Linux, this isn't a free and open system.

> Microsoft seem intent on having full control of your system, and they are in a position to take that control as and when they like.

This isn't your system any more than buying a CD makes the music yours. You're renting their system.


>This isn't your system any more than buying a CD makes the music yours. You're renting their system.

I really can't understand how people are ok with this. Now just with windows, but in general these days. Why are people ok with having things they don't really own after spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on them. If I buy a computer, it's my computer, I don't give a fuck what operating system is on it, what fine print amd or Intel throw in saying their management systems are their property, I don't care. I'll do whatever I want with my computer and if Microsoft or any other company has a problem with it they can come sue me for all I care.


Do you live in a house you own?

I'm sympathetic to your viewpoint, but I think rent is a society-wide problem, not just a problem with computers, and computers are far from the most acute example.


No, I'm not saying rentals, or using things you don't own is bad, I'm saying the line's being pushed too far towards non ownership of things that shouldn't be that way. Owning a house as a much much larger barrier of entry than a computer or other things.


Your distinction seems a bit arbitrary to me. Building an operating system is a massive barrier to entry - far greater than building a house. Likewise, designing a computer.


>I'll do whatever I want with my computer

You pretty much can, I don't understand why you're upset. Windows on the other hand is not your property.

Your laptop in this case is the CD, you own that. Windows is the music that you're renting.


Hmmm I think a better analogy might be, think of a car, the motor, the body and all the internal working parts are the hardwear, windows is the steering wheel, the gear shifter and the gas and break pedals of my car. Sure my car might run without them, but I'm not going anywhere. Now imagine you owned the rest of your car, but not the steering wheel, pedals or gear shifter. Now imagine the company that made those, separate from the company that makes the rest of your car, owned them and could do whatever they like with them while you're driving your car.


No, in this analogy you are the passenger and Windows is a driver that, despite the fact that you are paying them to drive you from point A to point B, always takes a longer route that ensures you see as many roadside billboards as possible. It also occasionally drives you home and makes you wait while it adds new parts to the car, then starts the whole trip over again.


Bad analogy. The music on a CD doesn't change after you purchase it. Windows is in constant evolution.


It's not a bad analogy because the point (it's not yours) doesn't depend on the idea of whether the data changes or not. Regardless of if the data evolves or not, it's still not yours to control (to a complete extent).


> Your operating system? This isn't Linux, this isn't a free and open system.

Linux is not your operating system either. You are not the owner of Linux. Linux has a permissive open source license that don't give you ownership. If you were the owner you could change its license.


I'm saying Linux is "free and open," you can clearly see that in my comment.


Clearly the "Your operating system? This isn't Linux, ..." assumes that Linux is yours beyond if it's free and open.


Regardless, "you're operating system" doesn't imply literal legal ownership, it implies ability to control, as in control when and what gets updated as the OP is upset about.


I think in a legal sense it is yours. Heck you could even sell it, the license just requires you to provide the code if you change it. If you don't abide the license you can loose that ownership (by the legal copyright case), in a same way you could loose the ownership of your car or house in certain circumstances.

> it implies ability to control, as in control when and what gets updated as the OP is upset about.

Many routers run linux, the provider doesn't have to give you ability to control that OS, but in accordance with the copyright law they have to give you the code when you ask for it. So in that case you own both the device and the code but you don't necessary fully control it (unless it's flashed with OpenWrt or similar). So control and ownership are different things.


Who else wants to be pedantic?


VSCode is a pure marketing effort, trying to convince people that Microsoft isn't all that evil.

WSL is more sinister - it's a counter to "I want to run Linux on my desktop / laptop". It is a carrot to the stick of Secure Boot that's trying to make anything else than Windows impossible on PC.


Secure Boot doesn't inherently prevent other OSes from running. The user retains ultimate control on the vast majority of Secure Boot x86/x64 machines which allow adding your own signing keys, removing Microsoft's and/or the OEM's, and disabling Secure Boot. In these cases, it is a positive anti-malware system without removing user freedom.

Additionally, Microsoft cooperates with the Linux community to sign their keys. Most Linux distros these days can install with Secure Boot enabled, and still offer ways for users who need to do things like compile kernel modules to do that without having to disable Secure Boot.

The situation is different for some devices like (I think) Windows RT devices based on ARM, and maybe cheaper x86/x64 netbooks now that the Secure Boot certification requirements have changed. In these cases they often do restrict you to only what MS is willing to sign, with no opt-out. I won't defend that in the slightest, but it's not true for much of and probably most of the PC market.


I've always seen it as more of a life raft for people who simply cannot avoid having to use Windows. That crowd is getting smaller, but still sizable.


Awesome! Any idea how well it deals with system updates? Last time I used a script to remove some of the crapware (OneDrive, games, office installers, etc) it all came back after a larger feature update.


These are basically OS reinstalls, there is a script capable of doing the same in live system


Yes. I ran the removes all appx script that a kind soul shared here with a bunch of warnings and disclaimers and I love it.


I recently had to install Windows 10 and ended up installing "Windows 10 LTSC". Right after install i used "O&O shutup" and "Win10-Initial-Setup-Script" to get some sane defaults/strip all the crap.

It's sad that Windows itself has become bloatware...

https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10

https://github.com/Disassembler0/Win10-Initial-Setup-Script


What a load of shit.

I love the guy trying to infer Microsoft's ad profit centers by trying to read between the lines of marketing copy. Entertaining stuff. But let's not confuse this for grown up analysis.

Microsoft releases their financials, like every publicly traded corporation. Bing search ads are a small part of revenu, about 5% of what Azure earns, and stable. Desktop ads are a vanishingly small line item. Microsoft's strategy is based on platform sales — you know, the part of their business whose revenue is doubling every quarter. Google's strategy is based on "collect it all" data hoarding and ad sales.

But the punchline is really the best part. "Apple has lit the torch." Siri and Cortana are analogous products, and they are the motivation for both their companies' data collection.

Actually a voice assistant gives a company a ton of power, but it can be used for different purposes. Alexa doesn't exist for ad revenue, it exists to push more sales through Amazon. Cortana exists to push Azure platform integrated features in Windows, effectively doubling down the value of the platform investment. Siri exists to push Apple integrated features and to guard the gates of their walled garden.

The only valid part if the article is that it's hard to believe that anyone really wants a voice assistant.


You’re right that I’ve not backed some of the claims with objective financial analysis. I searched for annual reports, then went off to finishing the post, in the interest of time. I thought that it would take a long time to read the reports to find out the revenue broken down into various business segments instead of “Microsoft Search Network” bucket.

Furthermore, whether ad business is a 1/20th of Microsoft’s revenue, is by itself not an indicator. It’s still a 7 billion dollar business. That’s larger than a lot of successful companies. Apple’s services business has grown rapidly from 0% to the second largest source of revenue.

Microsoft, Adobe, etc are all aggressively trying to penetrate the ad market. Microsoft has failed to capitalize on IE/Edge or Bing, as much as it tried. Now, they’re hostile to privacy and have permeated their ad strategy to operating system level.

I don’t agree with you about Siri and Cortana. I was trying to say that Apple is leading the path, “lit the torch”, to become a privacy centric business. And they’re openly advertising their products with Privacy motifs. That’s what I see. It wasn’t about Cortana or Siri.

I’m glad I was able to entertain!

Edit: If you’d like a thorough analysis, I strongly suggest subscribing to Stratechery blog.


This article is incredibly misleading and I can't believe almost everyone on HN is taking it at face value. You've clearly made assumptions to fit your conclusion without verifying the validity of the assumptions themselves.

The items you list at the top are just part of the normal telemetry subsystem and have nothing to do with advertising. Windows has an separate system for advertising and it's completely isolated from telemetry data unless users opt-in to "Tailored experiences" within the privacy settings. (See: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4468236/diagnostics...)

Ad tracking within windows is limited to the windows store apps you open and what you search for in the start menu if web-searches with Bing are enabled, which is entire gist of the "Microsoft Search Network".

Opting-out from "Advertising ID" during install/in privacy settings, or disabling personalised ads globally @ choice.microsoft.com stops this behaviour entirely.

Instead of making assumptions about Cortana, you could've just checked the privacy guide: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4468233/cortana-and...

I quote: "Cortana does not use the data you share to target ads to you. Ads may accompany search results that Cortana delivers, just as they do when you search on Bing.com. Even if Cortana does the searching for you, your web search queries will be treated as described in the Bing section of the Microsoft Privacy Statement."

Using Cortana doesn't give Microsoft any more ad money over someone just doing a plain Bing search.


Do you mind if I paraphrase your comment and add it to the article? Thanks for checking the privacy guide, it establishes what Microsoft officially has to say about their data collection methods. And, I should have checked it before writing the article.

I am cynical of any company that is trying to impede user's ability to turn privacy related settings off. They go out of their way to make it difficult. There are no more than 2 dozen privacy related switches in Control Panel. Everything is checked on by default. This whole thing reeks of insiduous tracking, spying and surveillance, despite of what the privacy guide says. I am very, very cynical.

Also, there is no assurance that government agencies have access to a wealth of information that's collected as part of "user experience improvement". Furthermore, all this data collection, even if it is not used for advertisement currently has potential to be used in the future for ad tracking. Microsoft has full control over changing their privacy policy next day. I lost the count of emails that I get every other day that eBay, or YouTube or Twitter has changed their privacy policy.

Assuming benevolent actions from the company collecting data, whether it is for "telemetry" purposes or for ad tracking, has the risk of being hacked. I presume Microsoft has taken enough steps to anonymize personally identifiable information or as they call it PII in the circles.

The plug needs to be pulled from the point of origin of the data, if it is not collected, it is not going to be misused.

Questions that I would like to ask Microsoft:

- Why make it difficult for user to opt-out of privacy related settings?

- Why employ dark patterns to trick users into submitting their data?

- Why push Cortana across the board from "Home" to "Enterprise" editions, where no one has asked for it, no one uses it and it is impossible to get rid of?

- Why not make it an opt-in process as opposed to opting out?


> Do you mind if I paraphrase your comment and add it to the article?

Sure.

> Everything is checked on by default. They go out of their way to make it difficult.

During install of recent versions of W10, there's a privacy settings dialog that comes up and allows you disable the majority of the privacy settings before installation. (https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2018/03/06/windo...)

> There are no more than 2 dozen privacy related switches in Control Panel.

There's a lot of different settings because that's what people asked for. When W10 released, a lot of privacy options were bundled under a handful of toggles and it wasn't very clear what each of them did. Now it's explicit and far easier to understand for people that actually go looking for them.

> This whole thing reeks of insiduous tracking, spying and surveillance, despite of what the privacy guide says.

I'd honestly suggest spending some time on the Microsoft Privacy portal and related pages. They go into quite a lot of detail of what each individual setting does and what the data is used for, as well as Microsoft's internal policies for data management.

These two pages are targeted towards IT peeps and I think provide the best summary if you have some time: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/privacy/configure-w... https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/privacy/windows-10-...

Your theory also doesn't make sense considering Microsoft's current market strategy as a cloud services company. Its advertisement business is barely a blip on the radar.

> ...has the risk of being hacked. I presume Microsoft has taken enough steps to anonymize personally identifiable information or as they call it PII in the circles.

Per the above link: "The principle of least privileged access guides access to diagnostic data. [...] We strive to gather only the info we need and to store it only for as long as it’s needed to provide a service or for analysis. Much of the info about how Windows and apps are functioning is deleted within 30 days"

PII might be contained within full crash dumps, however access to potentially PII-containing telemetry requires internal approval:

"If a device experiences problems that are difficult to identify or repeat using Microsoft’s internal testing, additional data becomes necessary. This data can include any user content that might have triggered the problem and is gathered from a small sample of devices that have both opted into the Full diagnostic data level and have exhibited the problem.

However, before more data is gathered, Microsoft’s privacy governance team, including privacy and other subject matter experts, must approve the diagnostics request made by a Microsoft engineer."

> Why make it difficult for user to opt-out of privacy related settings?

Given the privacy dialog shown on install, and the ability to opt-out of personalised targeting globally via a single page, what part is difficult?

> Why push Cortana across the board from "Home" to "Enterprise" editions, where no one has asked for it, no one uses it and it is impossible to get rid of?

Search was actually separated from Cortana in a recent update. It was completely integrated at some point in an effort to compete with Apple/Google but is slowly being pulled apart and hidden away in the OS as, like you said, barely anyone uses it. Fun fact, if you never pick a language for Cortana it never enables. I just have a plain search box.

> Why employ dark patterns to trick users into submitting their data? Why not make it an opt-in process as opposed to opting out?

Both of these questions are effectively asking the same thing. Because nobody would go out of their way to enable it. The data Microsoft would receive would just be a mix of "Technically competent people that would like to send Microsoft diagnostic & usage data" and "People who enabled it accidentally". Your average joe isn't going to read the descriptions of 10 toggle boxes and go to enable them. Not a great dataset when you're looking for a niche driver problems affecting 0.005% of users.


Sorry to hijack this thread but am I the only who suspect a pretty strong astroturfing effort from MS on HN since a few years? I’m glad more people are now seeing behind the developer friendly PR and maybe it was just a fad and I’m overthinking, but MS news and some related comments on HN always have a strange tone to me.


"And they’re openly advertising their products with Privacy motifs."

Because advertising is . . . trustworthy? Advertising copy is meant to sell products. Apple sees a niche market where people are calling out the invasive tactics of tech companies, so they want to aim for that market. Not that they actually have to provide a fully privacy-focused product; they just need to deliver an appealing message. All they really "have" to do (scare quotes because they don't really HAVE to do anything) to live up to this claim is implement some privacy-focused element to their products. At the same time, they can also implement very privacy-invasive elements. As long as they are less privacy-invasive as their competition, they can reasonably assert their claim as a privacy-focused company. That's still a very far cry from being a privacy-CENTRIC company. Bonus privacy invasive element is to pay some genius to text customers' nude photos to themselves.


You have been more than entertaining. Thank you


> The only valid part if the article is that it's hard to believe that anyone really wants a voice assistant.

I think voice assistance shines on mobile devices because of clumsy UI.

Here's an elaborate example: When I finish a dentist appointment I negotiate a follow up with the receptionist after paying my bill. I can then dictate to siri to schedule the next appointment rather than clumsily typing it all in.

A more obvious example: hands-free operation when operating a vehicle, e.g. "Siri read me the last message I received (from Alice)".

Unless you're completely inept with your computer there's really no reason to use the voice interface. I think we already learned this lesson otherwise Dragon Dictate would've taken off decades ago.


>Unless you're completely inept with your computer there's really no reason to use the voice interface. I think we already learned this lesson otherwise Dragon Dictate would've taken off decades ago.

I must be completely inept because I find saying "Hey Cortana, remind me to abc at xyz" right when something occurs to me a lot more convenient than opening my web-based calender and going through the rigmarole of setting up a reminder.


I'm with you there.


You fellas can be the exception in that you're not inept but you found a use where nobody else really has (or discovered).


Unless you're completely inept with computer it's always faster to do the tasks with hands.


When a clean install of Windows 10 ""Professional"" had prominent ads for Candy Crush in the Start Menu, is when I realized MS had lost their dignity.


To solve this, they have an upgrade you can get called "Windows 10 Pro for Workstations". Costs a little over $300. Quoting the blog post on windows.com:

"You will see for Windows 10 Pro for Workstations productivity and enterprise focused applications in place of consumer applications and games. This was one of the top feedback shared with us by our partners and users and we're delivering this in our next update"

Last time I tried it, it still tried to install candy crush and such, but somehow failed, resulting in a glitchy start menu. That was a while ago, though.


> You will see for Windows 10 Pro for Workstations productivity and enterprise focused applications in place of consumer applications and games.

This means there will still be spam in the start menu, just a different kind of it? Wow.


Since Windows 7 is going to lose security updates, I have been looking at what to replace it with. My main use case being games (actual work and internet being on Debian).

What I found was that Windows Server seems to cut most of the features I do not want in Windows (Cortana, Windows Store and Microsoft accounts, OneDrive...) while still being purchasable on Amazon (although at 3-6 times the price). There are several issues (drivers and application compatibility, various settings have to be changed to match the "regular" Windows behavior), but so far I prefer it a lot to regular Windows 10.


For some reason I don't ever see people recommending the MSMG Toolkit[0]. With it, you can take a regular Win10 Home or Pro .iso, and completely gut it. Like, completely gut it. It'll stop automatic Windows updates (you can still choose to do them yourself), you can remove all default metro apps, you can completely remove the Windows Store from ever being on your system. Seriously, this thing is an absolute godsend it my opinion. Combine with the Windows 10 Privacy Guide[1] to pick up any slack that it misses.

0: https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/msmg_toolkit.html

1: https://github.com/adolfintel/Windows10-Privacy


Oh my god just use wine.

This is getting ridiculous!


Sadly still not compatible with all applications.


Maybe it’s time to find alternates? I have a really hard time imagining there’s anything other than specialized control software that won’t run on Linux and is worth that.


I do not precisely disagree; I personally have exactly zero Windows machines left. But I know people for whom that transition would mean replacing the majority of the software that they use every day, and for less-technical folks that's going to hurt.

Story time. I know a small business owner who uses WordPerfect, FileMaker (database), and who needs a Java web applet that interfaces with a hardware device and backends into a government database in order to do their job. Now, I would 100% be thrilled to move them from WordPerfect to LibreOffice, but they have 20-year-old macros that we'd have to port. Then FileMaker: I guess something could be done with sqlite? But now we're talking custom software solutions to replace something that a non-developer could drive before. And the Java applet... well, that's gonna hurt regardless, but it talks to hardware which means that it'll need drivers, and the government isn't going to support anything but the bare minimum, so that may never move.

In my experience, 90% of software is totally possible to port or replace. Unfortunately, that last 10% (games, drivers, business-critical app written for MS-DOS 6.22) tends to be what makes or breaks the migration.


I just realized my message was wrong in the context. The price was not 3 times 300$ but 3 times the regular price of a Windows 10 Family license. Basically, the price I am seeing on Amazon is 345$.


I wonder what engineers working on vscode and wsl feel when they run into people working on OS monetization in the company restaurant...

What do you need to say in your interview to be assigned to the latter team?


What do they feel? What about being thankful for being a revenue stream, it allows us to work on more free (as in beer) and open source developer tools


It's almost like paying for an operating system should somehow be the payment itself.


I'm not saying that this is a good revenue model nor that I support it.

I'm saying that employees of a company probably don't antagonize the others like that.


Seems similar to being thankful that the mafia’s criminal acts help fund its philanthropy in the community.


Its not free if we sell out with our data and attention.


There’s a company restaurant?


Just use LTSC. No Cortana, no Store, no Edge, and obviously no Candy Crush--in fact, no Metro apps to speak which, not even the Calculator (instead you get the one from Windows 7)


How do you get a license for that? As far as I know you can't easily. You need to find a reseller and there's a minimum amount of licenses you need to buy so you can't just buy one.

I don't understand why Microsoft is doing this. There's basically zero effort involved in setting up a credit card payment form that gives out product keys, and there'd be at least some demand for it.


>You need to find a reseller and there's a minimum amount of licenses you need to buy so you can't just buy one.

AFAIK you can get around that requirement by buying a bunch of cheap CALs.


Because they know that it'll be incredibly popular and will force them to continue backporting updates. They want to move forward and users want to stay on one place. In the past users managed to keep Microsoft from moving forward. Now they want to force users to move forward. Nobody is happy in both cases, it seems.


What I don’t get is that as a company, money should be their objective. They have people asking to pay money for a license, why not charge whatever it takes to make backporting updates profitable and call it a day?


>Because they know that it'll be incredibly popular and will force them to continue backporting updates.

I don't get it. How does popularity have anything to do with how much effort is needed to backport updates? Those editions already exist, so they're already committed to supplying updates. Might as well make some extra money by selling it for $300+ retail.


I had to go to Ebay to obtain a license.


But can I get that on my personal laptop?


You can pay for Windows updates by having ads, or by paying for Enterprise edition every year. Or realise that you should have switched to Linux already. Or overpay for your hardware and get a Mac, prepay for 5 years of OS updates today!


I pirated it.


I really hope you didn't harm anyone on the boat.


>To solve this, they have an upgrade you can get called "Windows 10 Pro for Workstations". Costs a little over $300.

At that price point you might as well get the LTSC version instead, which has none of that and has 10 years of security patches without needing to install feature updates.


I don't get this kind of comment. I bought a surface pro 2 years ago. I had to turn off the promoted apps and uninstall a few commercial games. But since then, no commercial ever appeared on my start screen. Not saying it's good to bundle commercial app. But its not hell either, like Google pushing you to their services every time you use their search engine or YouTube... And I think it's really bad practice to use scripts that break standard behavior of windows and nothing that should be encouraged to non technical people


And I don't get that kind of bootlicking mentality.

Google services are (mostly) free. Advertisements come with the territory. As for 'pushing', I'm using the search and youtube daily and I don't even have a google account.

Windows 10 Pro is 200$. In what world is that acceptable to bundle spyware, crapware and advertisements with it?

>And I think it's really bad practice to use scripts that break standard behavior of windows and nothing that should be encouraged to non technical people

"Don't ask questions, just consume the product". Keep enabling that shit, and in a few decades it will be illegal to tinker with your own fucking computer.


It's 200€, and my computer that is 10 years old can be kept up to date. Upgrades are really fast. I really think that it is a rock solid operating system that opens up a lot of possibilities for developer while offering long term compatibility and stability. At least windows leaves you the possibility to remove any promoted app or suggestion. But like I said. I still think they should stop that ridiculous behavior. Just saying that the os is nonetheless great.


I agree. I wonder if Apple put a little tile up to show the new Mac Pro, or of Red Hat put a little widget up to show Red Hat cloud suite would we hear the same complaints.

It's just a little tile that shows a Microsoft product.

I run Windows 10 out-of-the-box on all my machines. I don't run any special "cracks" to remove features, but I may have turned off a few things from Control Panel; I don't remember.

It's a very good operating system. Rock solid. Runs 64- and 32- bit Windows programs, Linux Programs, and anything I want in a VM.


Candy Crush is published by King (which is apparently owned by Activision now?), and has always gave an impression of being slightly sleazy.

I don't mind the OneDrive and Office ads as much (though I still turn them off).


There is a registry setting to turn it off.

See:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Barnacules/status/118578397794198...


A little bit irrelevant to the article:

Unpopular opinion but, is opt-outtable telemetry that bad?

Of course using tracked behaviors for add targeting is bad (which is why my opinion is irrelevant to the article) but using telemetry to do AB-tests, UX-tests, finding bugs, etc... what’s really bad about it?

Every comment about telemetry in HN reads something like ‘Telemetry with opt-out is bad, so GitLab is bad, VSCode is bad, brew is bad, etc...’ but personally I really can’t see the problem.

For people who can’t believe the company enough for processing one’s data can turn off telemetry right? The fact that one is using the application from one company (for example, VSCode) implies that they trust the company (in this case, MS). If one doesn’t, one can manually turn it off.


I would argue that opt-in telemetry is the worst you should think about.

To improve your software, there are other means than mass surveillance of your users (e.g. lab-tests). And if you really need a lot of data, ask who wants to participate and also offer a solution that lets them participate for a limited amount of time.

In my experience, you can find a lot of problems with lab tests and when your team disagrees about some findings, quantitative tests can help you find the correct answer. But tracking all your users constantly isn't necessary to reach a good user experience.


Yes it is bad. Most of it relies on tools provided by advertising & stalking companies like Google Analytics, so they have an incentive to also use the data for themselves, and correlate it with other data they collect about you when you use their services directly. This also means these companies (even if not involved in advertising directly) have an insane potential in tracking users across all apps that happen to use their services, making them a very juicy target, including for state actors.

> AB-tests, UX-tests

I don't want to be a lab rat. If you are testing things then please make it clear and let me see both options and I will happily give feedback.

> finding bugs

What if the software crashes while processing confidential data and part of that data is contained in the core dump that you just sent off because you don't respect your users enough to ask them?


> Unpopular opinion but, is opt-outtable telemetry that bad?

In its current incarnation, yes.

From what I've seen, telemetry has simply replaced quality assurance and proper design, and I don't like it.

It's hard to put it into words, exactly, but I'm old enough now to realise that using primarily statistics to drive high-level decisions inevitably leads to a general crapification of everything. It naturally leads to dark patterns, to gamification, to making things addictive... sorry... "engaging". It sneaks in prejudices, and ossifies the status quo. Worst of all, it tends to drag everything down to the lowest common denominator, to the left side of the bell curve. Mass appeal is appeal to the average and below-average person.

This type of viewer-feedback design is why every Hollywood movie is now so formulaic. Must have orange-blue contrast poster. Must have a love story. Must have uplifting moment. Must have plucky ethnic characters. It has become revolting slop for the masses to consume in bulk.

Software design is no different. I want quality, I want inspired software that is cohesive, fit for purpose, and will teach me something. Instead it is being purposefully lowered to the level of the average, computer-illiterate person in order to be more "accessible".

As a random example, I was infuriated when Microsoft announced that they're deprecating the Windows 7 version of the backup tool from a future Windows 10 release because their telemetry shows that most home users don't use it much.

Who. Gives. A. Fuck. what some grandma does or doesn't do with their worthless PC and its virus-riddled hard drive with no valuable data on it?

Do you? I don't. Microsoft shouldn't.

But oh no, their telemetry says Grandpa and Grandma don't use VHDX-based image backup enough, so it's go to go.

I use it regularly because it can back create disk-image backups of a running machine at a button press. It reads the source disk linearly block-by-block, and hence I can use it to back up -- or restore -- the 450 GB of tiny source code files on my work laptop in just 15 minutes! If my laptop dies, I can just attach the backup disk to another computer with Hyper-V and directly boot the latest image file. No need to even restore.

This is amazing engineering! It reuses the built-in Volume Shadow Service (VSS) engine to take the backup, so it's practically free code for Microsoft, but... nope. Sorry. The "people" have spoken. Less than 0.1% of the user base clicked this icon in the last 12 months, so clearly I'm wrong and the masses are right.


I would be okay with it if it was properly anonymized. I'm talking for instance some peer-to-peer mixing scheme, not just a privacy clause by which they swear they won't use the data to identify the particular users. There are technical solutions to privacy-conscious telemetry, but of course the non-trivial cost of implementation, and perhaps more importantly the loss of valuable data for the company means it's almost never implemented.


> I would be okay with it if it was properly anonymized.

MS might properly anonymize it, CandyCrash as well, then antivirus company also does it properly, but when it's all combined nothing says it won't be properly de-anonymized, specially if the data is sensitive and valuable.


If the telemetry information is only internal to the application (generic UI interactions, no specific IDs or tags), I don't see how combining sources could de-anonymize it.

How many people use Candy Crush and that specific industrial driver software? The pinga come from the same IP at similar times.

Yes, it is that bad. Dark pattern opt-in tomfoolery is bad enough. The current 'good luck finding your way out of this maze of never ending twists and turns' opt-out horror scenarios is 100x worse, and that is after you found out about all the tracking and reporting shenanigans and the existence of the opt-out in the first place.


I use Windows 10 pro out-of-the-box on all my machines. I change few default settings. Seeing a tile for the latest Microsoft game in the Start menu just doesn't bother me. I like Cortana. I just checked on the weather.

I note that Macs have an unremovable Siri, but nobody here is upset about that.


on windows home it's not possible to opt out of telemetry. only to send less.


One of the things that I didn’t see anyone else mention is that opt-in telemetry tends to annoy a certain group of people, who will turn it off and then you’re not getting anything from them. Then you make decisions that are non-representative.


Google and Apple are both opt-in not opt-out. Why can't MS do the same?


I, personally, love telemetry and always enable it everywhere. I want developers to know about my habits and consider it when deciding, for example, which features to delete.


I, personally, enable telemetry everywhere it's disabled by default, or even just when I'm asked about it. I turn it off if it's on by default and they don't say exactly what they're collecting.


Microsoft had the dominant consumer operating system since the 1980s. Using that advantage (and not innovation and quality !) they were able to grab substantial chunks of other markets:

Word processing, commercial compilers, cloud computing etc. Next up is digital assistants and advertising.

What is the alternative for average consumers ? Chrome books ?


> What is the alternative for average consumers ? Chrome books ?

GNU/Linux! Any mainstream beginner friendly GNU/Linux distribution like Linux Mint or Ubuntu will be descent enough for average consumers. Unless you are heavily dependent on Adobe softwares(even then, you can consider dual boot), they are now much more elegant than windows. Getting quality support from forums is actually much easier with GNU/Linux. Last time when I had a problem with Windows 10, where everything saved to C:/ would disappear after restart, I was unable to get any useful support from their forums. On the other had, most problems I encounter while using a linux distribution is just a search away! I'm currently using Arch linux(before that I used Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora etc...), and my less technically inclined family uses Elementary OS. Try a linux distribution like Linux Mint or Kubuntu. It's worth the time!


Yes, personally I dual boot Ubuntu and Windows. But the problem is that many organizations I deal with are reinforcing Microsoft dominance by e.g. emailing me PDFs that only Acroread can open. If I want to fight these issues, I may need to resort to name dropping (Google, Apple) and other tactics.


> emailing me PDFs that only Acroread can open

Please post any examples of those to the evince project as a bug report.


They're literally everywhere. I pulled this one off the top of my head:

https://www.aoc.cat/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/sol_cert_pers...


Okular 1.8.2 says the document contains XFA forms and it's not yet supported. This is the first time I ever even heard of this. <https://enwp.org/XFA> says the technology is already deprecated.

I have used Okular many times for PDFs with embedded forms (no apparent special name). I think you should notify the originator of the unusable PDFs that they should redo the file with regular embedded forms so that they work in most PDF readers.


In my experience these are PDFs that embed JavaScript. I don't think there is much of an appetite for building yet another JS interpreter into the desktop...


As much as I love all that Linux offers and working with it, the culture isn't there for Linux to be mainstream, and it's not even about feature parity or user-friendliness anymore. It's that the minimum standard offered by Microsoft, Google, and Apple is quite good and many of the annoyances that folks who do have a preference on OSes and such are not bothersome in the least bit to your average user.

The problem with positioning Linux as an alternative to Windows/MacOS is that there is a very real alternative (and has been for some time) of just not having a Desktop OS at all; do everything mobile. It might be strange for some people here, but Mobile-only is a very common and real choice made nowadays, and Android/iOS make this a pretty darn comfortable option. While the advertising and telemetry and crapware is even worse on Mobile, this leads to the other part of the issue where, based on my experience, the average user is completely attuned to and just accepts the advertising without question. 10 second ads randomly played as part of an App is just seen as normal; the barrage of randomly placed animated banners, auto-play videos that scroll with you, over-zealous sign-up requirements are absolutely the norm now as the big players have made this a reality, and many people just do not think twice about such practices. Youtube, popular news sites, and other such things have normalized these practices and now it's not even a concern for many people.

I've had this conversation with many people even directly in IT/Development related fields and I'm sure I come off as a Stallmanite-esque nutcase when I voice my frustrations about Google, for example. I purposefully avoid Chrome because of its awful auto-updater tactics on MacOS which basically took pages from malware authors on how to ensure the service is always alive and present on your OS. When I explained this decision to colleagues, the response was confusion more than anything, and wondering why I even wanted to stop this. (Neverminding their frustration with Google when it changed the login handling for its services)

Linux as an alternative __does__ exist, but this is only if you care enough to want to seek an alternative in the first place. Putting aside the monstrous mountain of issues with the non-Linux OSes, it's never been a better time to be a Windows/MacOS/iOS/Android user. The OSes are stable as heck, cross-compatibility is very good for virtually whatever program/application you want, the OSes run great on virtually all hardware with no configuration. The only consideration most of the time is tiny personal preferences. And best of all, for 3 of 4 of the OSes above, you don't pay a single cent (directly) for any of them. Windows holds out, but I cannot imagine this lasting much longer either.

With all of the above considered, the question just becomes "why would any of the mythical 'average consumer' even want to consider Linux in the first place?" As depressing as this may sound (and defeatist), as long as it gets them to Facebook and Youtube (and Instagram/whatever other social media they want), why would they care what does it and/or what that OS is doing?


> I purposefully avoid Chrome because of its awful auto-updater tactics on MacOS which basically took pages from malware authors on how to ensure the service is always alive and present on your OS. When I explained this decision to colleagues, the response was confusion more than anything, and wondering why I even wanted to stop this.

I've noticed that on Windows as soon as Chrome appeared: they implemented a lot of malware-like concepts for the installation and updates even then. It never seemed right to me. And I still avoid Chrome as much as I can.

> the question just becomes "why would any of the mythical 'average consumer' even want to consider Linux in the first place?" As depressing as this may sound (and defeatist), as long as it gets them to Facebook and Youtube (and Instagram/whatever other social media they want), why would they care what does it and/or what that OS is doing?

My own issues: as much as I like Linux for programming, whenever I try to use Linux "just" to play videos on some non-gaming machine (and I've never bought gaming-only computers, and I'm sure an "average" user doesn't too), I still see significant problems compared with using Windows for the same task on the same machine. For various reasons it seems this joke still holds, even when removing "flash":

https://xkcd.com/619/

And my experience was even that those windowing environments promoted as "less demanding" aren't showing the videos better: they re maybe less demanding in some other aspects... but the videos which play smoothly on cheaper hardware is still a goal that is somehow hard to reach. My experience is similar to those I've had with music playing on Linuxes some decades ago, where every peace of the setup then worked against me simply being able to play (yes I've even tried modifying and rebuilding the drivers at these times...)


> the average user is completely attuned to and just accepts the advertising without question. 10 second ads randomly played as part of an App is just seen as normal; the barrage of randomly placed animated banners, auto-play videos that scroll with you, over-zealous sign-up requirements are absolutely the norm now as the big players have made this a reality,

This is pavlovian conditioning at it's finest, yotube users know they need to wait a few second of ads before they can press <<skip>> button, they know they need to accept EULA and a few pages TOS, Privacy Policy and whatever before they can use the damn thing. Slowly but surely people learn that the number of choices they have are limited and they simply have to bow down to the digital feodalism of today.


> I'm currently using Arch

Thank you for telling, how would anyone know otherwise.


Can you recommend good laptop that come with Linux installed?


Choice is greatly diminished compared with ten years ago. I'm satisfied with http://www.tuxedocomputers.com/en


I currently use a ThinkPad, which came pre-installed with Windows. I wiped out windows and installed Linux. Then there are some Dell XPS laptops that comes with Linux installed.


Which thinkpad model?


Chromebooks have the same problem; they’re backed by an advertising & stalking company - the laptop is just the carrot on the stick; the main objective is to gather data and waste your time with ads.

The only alternative is Apple; they’re not perfect and have done some scummy things (see the right to repair, etc) but their whole marketing has been based around privacy and I can’t see them screwing that up as it’s pretty much the only advantage they’ve got at this point (their other qualities have faded away - UX is worse and worse, hardware is subpar, etc).


Apple is not as invasive as Microsoft, but macOS has this preference: https://imgur.com/a/VhQec0O

"Advertising in Apple Apps: View the information used by Apple to deliver more relevant ads to you in Apple News, Stocks and the iOS App Store. Your personal data is not provided to third parties."

Apparently, you will see ads in their newest apps: News and Stocks apps (and ads for other apps in App Store).


If you have oped out, as in your case and mine, the answer is none of your information will be used in this way. It's one setting, it's a complete opt out and you get prominently asked at install time. I've really not got any problem with that.


I don't want any advertising in the software I buy.


> you get prominently asked at install time

Do you? I know the iOS setup wizard asks for analytics, but I don't recall it ever asking whether you want to turn on "limit ad tracking".


I was pretty sure it did, but if not that's even better. I didn't set this manually and it's off, so presumably that's just the default setting.


Personally I don't have a problem with ads: They have subsidized many cool things over the years. Newspapers is one. Open source software written or supported by Google is another.

I'm personally also ok with tracking provided there is a reasonable regulatory framework e.g. GDPR. But I do sympathize with people uncomfortable with all forms of tracking.

Apple products are expensive and will only become more so if everyone tries to buy it.


The problem with ads (there are many problems, but in this context this one is the most relevant) is that it's inherently incompatible with productivity. Ads waste your time and try to influence you or make you buy things instead of doing whatever you initially planned to do. This means ad-supported tools try to maximise ad viewing time ("engagement" as they call it), so it's in their best interest to make the tool less efficient so you spend more time on it.

I want my operating system and other critical tools to work for me by saving me time, not against me by wasting my time so I get the opportunity to see more ads.

Imagine if you were a plumber, would you use a wrench that has a built-in screen and makes you watch a 30-second ad before it actually allows you to unscrew a pipe? And then periodically beeps while in your toolbox so that you have to take it out and stay "engaged"? No - any sane person would say "this is crap" and throw it in the garbage. Why should it be any different for IT tools?

The GDPR has yet to do anything regarding tracking because it's not being enforced at all - Google and Facebook's entire business models are based on violating the GDPR and yet they are still around. The regulation has some good ideas including around consent and dark patterns (tracking must be opt-in, should not be misleading, etc) but it has yet to be enforced despite there being millions of sites blatantly violating it.

> Apple products are expensive and will only become more so if everyone tries to buy it.

That would be the market at work. Maybe when the prices rise even more Microsoft will realise just how much money they're leaving on the table and go back to making good software?


> What is the alternative for average consumers ? Chrome books ?

The answer is obvious if you care about what the article is about. It's Linux. ChromeBooks are controlled by Google whose entire business is ads, so they can't be trusted either.


For average people with money - macOS. If they don't have money they need to become better than average with computers and learn Linux, or they will be preyed upon like cattle because of the lax US customer protections.


MS didn't use their OS to get word processing and compilers. There was plenty of competition in the 80s and early 90s. MS by almost every measure had the best products in those categories.


That's bullshit. What Microsoft did is bundle Office with all computers, at no cost. They used their monopoly position in operating systems to crush wordprocessing and spreadsheet companies by bundling a free alternative that would read the competitor's file formats. Competitors, with no other source of revenue, died. Once they were dead, Office was no longer free.

This is a classic example of how a company with a monopoly position in one product uses that power to create a monopoly position in other products.


bullshit on your bs. Which products were better? WordPerfect was certainly not better. Borland was better in the dos days but didn't keep up. I also never saw a computer that came with free office. it's always been an addon and always been separate from Windows .


And still does.


Chrome books are definetly worse when it comes to tracking!

It's sad that besides Linux, there arent that many options anymore...

Imagine the tracking that happens on phone, compared to desktop.


Microsoft isn't selling your PC usage data to advertisers. If you doubt me, go ahead and show me how you can buy this data. I'll gladly give you my next month's salary if you can.


These kinds of deals are enterprise-level, in meeting rooms, with sales people. They don't happen on the public web. So your challenge isn't plausible and you take no risk here


This question : "how can I buy data from X" should be asked more often on HN, for factual purposes. I would like the same question asked about Google.


Or should this question be asked as "what type of warrant needs served for law enforcement to get this data from Microsoft about you"


> isn't selling your PC usage data

Correct. It is selling use of PC usage data.

In other words the stuff is compiled together and offered to specific businesses with specific needs, if and when they come up with it. It won't be publicly available at first. I will be customized to each industry. Once they figure out how to scale it, everyone will have access to streamlined telemetry.


it does not matter if they sell it or not I don't want it collected. It could later be subpoenaed or stolen. They should just not collect it in the first place


Microsoft comes with third party games installed by default. I am certain that those are paid for, I am certain if you open that software it phones home to let them know you did, and I'm certain that information gets sent to the game developer.

I'll take PayPal


This implies it's OK for Microsoft to have the data in the first place. I don't trust them any more than Google.


Telemetry.


I find that any major service pack install inadvertently resets preferences around defender/other settings. I’m not a daily windows user currently, but i definetly don’t appreciate opening a laptop after a month in 2019 and it being unusable for an hour while it auto updates.


> And, Apple has lit this torch.

Too bad this ends on this line. So you recommend trusting another corporation over Microsoft to be virtuous over the long term? The only OS you can truly control is well known, and it's Linux.


“Apple has lit the torch”, I mean that Apple is leading the way forward for privacy centric products and services. Whether one chooses to trust Apple and buy their products, that’s debatable. But, it is evident, and clear that Apple’s press, their marketing, keynotes, technology and their products in last 3 years have a central theme - Privacy.


I completely agree. The best reason i think to trust apple is because of their revenue model which almost entirely come from selling hardware. Now with their recent increase in revenue from services, i’m a bit worried that it could change in the future.


Great article! I'm curious if you have anything to add about Window's "Your Phone" app. Which gives Microsoft full access to your android phone and your behavior and data on your mobile device. Unlike apple which provides this feature with end to end encryption. I feel like this is a next level of evil.


Apple, trust us, but we'll pull that app if your tyrannical government says they don't like it (referring to the Hong Kong protest map app). We'll put our data center in China since that's what the Chinese government ordered! Emojis of 2 men (or women) holding hands? Can't see them in Indonesia.


I think to be fair to Apple, their stance on this has two huge benefits even if you don't use Apple products.

First Apple has significantly raised the profile of privacy concerns. Their resistance to illegal demands to compromise customer privacy has been widely reported, and their advertising on this issue is a constant reminder to consumers.

Apple has also showed that it is not inevitable that big corporations must sell out customer privacy in order to succeed. Without Apple the narrative is that Google, facebook, etc have no choice, because this is just the way the modern world is and freemium is too powerful to resist. No it isn't, the stance Apple has taken and their success proves this.

Now Apple aren't immune to compromise, their folding to Chinese government demands for access to user data in China shows that they aren't invulnerable. If laws are passed that demand they surrender user data, they have no choice but to comply. However their persistent messaging on this is a helpful reminder to voters in the free world to care about this issue.


Linux is not the only OS you can control.


Of course there are other alternatives but in practice Linux is the most viable one in terms of support. Nobody is going to switch to Haiku.


I’d rather take an usable thing that I control 50% than an unusable thing I control 100%.

I don’t think anyone said anything about the long-term; at the moment Apple is what I swear by for general-purpose computing; it’s the least terrible option. That of course can change depending on their actions and then I’ll re-evaluate my decision.


The link from the PDF booklet targeted to those who would buy Microsoft's ad services:

https://about.ads.microsoft.com/en-us?s_int=en-us-gct-web-sr...

"Sign up for a Microsoft Advertising account to take advantage of these tools or get in touch with an account representative. If you already have a Microsoft Advertising account, log in or talk to your account representative about how to be a High Performer"

which leads one to, as the author writes, the page with the first picture of

"a couple of dudes snooping on animals, taking pictures and analyzing them while on Safari."

I don't think the choice of the photo is irrelevant.


"Your secret tool to master the customer journey"

Is that a high powered hunting rifle hanging out the back of the vehicle?


No. That is the window.


> "a couple of dudes snooping on animals, taking pictures and analyzing them while on Safari."

> I don't think the choice of the photo is irrelevant.

Irrelevant. Safari isn't available on windows. Edge, Chrome or Firefox would be relevant.


Did capitalization mislead you, is it an attempt to be funny or even something else?

"This article is about the type of overland journey. For the web browser, see Safari (web browser). For other uses, see Safari (disambiguation)."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safari

"A safari /səˈfɑːri/ (Swahili: safari) is an overland journey, usually a trip by tourists in Africa. In the past, the trip was often a big-game hunt, but today, safaris are often to observe and photograph wildlife—or hiking and sightseeing, as well."

In this context the "dudes" with the binoculars are the clients of Microsoft who pay Microsoft organizing them the "safari" privilege to snoop the "normal users" ("animals") living their lives.


Yeah I was just making a joke


chill, it was a joke :)



It's a nuclear arms race for capturing and monetizing user behavior and attention across all tech giants.

I'm generally against pervasive government regulation and oversight as a fellow tech enthusiast, but I fear where humanity is headed if these companies are left unchecked to their own devices, in an era where echo-chamber outrage amplifying newsfeed algorithms are subverting democracy as we know it.


> at least have the mic on for Cortana to listen and collect data.

My computer doesn't have a mike. Or a camera. Or speakers.


Lucky you.


How is that lucky?


Can't be spied upon?


My business partner's kid runs a cracked Windows 10 LTSC when he plays games because "he doesn't like Microsoft spying on him" as if he's some valuable target.

Because it's hacked, it's crashy (and also his "rig" is overclocked and badly integrated.) And of course, he blames "Windows" for being so crashy.


> "he doesn't like Microsoft spying on him" as if he's some valuable target

Everyone has a right to privacy, not just the people you think are being watched.


But he doesn't have a right to steal from Microsoft and then criticize the product for being "crashy" (as many people here who "run Windows for gaming" are doing).


>There is no Windows equivalent of Little Snitch

BW Meter is closer to Little Snitch than Glasswire. And it's very light on resources.


I agree that more data crunch-n-munching would make a nice feature-set for GlassWire. It still always makes my list of must-have installations though.

... "GlassWire 2.0 comes with a free 7 day trial so you can try out all its paid Basic, Pro, Elite features. After 7 days GlassWire will revert to its free version."

#shamelessplug


The author did not even mention how Windows 10 pushes the "Your Phone" app. Which gives Microsoft full access to your android phone and your behavior and data on your mobile device. Unlike apple which provides this feature with end to end encryption.


I have been seeing this MS vs other debates since decades. Why Linux has not been able to come up with a consumer OS. Why Windows or MAC only rule in consumer OS space?


Linux user experience is awful and there’s no pressure to improve it; unlike in a for-profit company there’s no common objective & leadership that unite all the people building the Linux desktop.

Doesn’t help that there are dozens of competing desktop environments so a lot of effort is duplicated and wasted.


Gnome 3 is pretty great and so is Ubuntu 19.10. I have my parents on both and they seem to like it just fine.


Ubuntu is very user friendly. Competition is good for the consumer and result in better products.


Tell that to my friend with whom I spent 30 minutes trying to figure out why Netflix wasn’t working on a brand new Ubuntu install. Had to enable a repo and install an extra package through the terminal. I can do it but there’s no way a normal user would figure that out on their own.


What are you talking about? Netflix works just fine in both the popular browsers that are available on Ubuntu with no packages needed. You either install Chrome just like you would on Windows (just click on .deb instead of .exe), or you click on "enable DRM" on a pre-installed Firefox.

What repo? What extra package? None of that is needed.


I have enabled DRM on Firefox and it still didn’t work. I had to enable more repos (the community ones I think) and install libavcodec-extra as per an answer on AskUbuntu.

I’m suspecting the package can’t be preinstalled for licensing reasons (even though I ticked the non-free software box during install) but in this case why not replace the library with a shim that displays a notification to the user and allows them to install the package through a GUI?


If you are not heavily dependent on softwares that run exclusively on Windows, I would say user experience on any mainstream GNU/Linux distribution is far better than that of Windows(which still insists automatic update before a reboot/shutdown). Also, community support for linux is much better. Places like AskUbuntu and community forums of distributions are much better than microsoft's support forum. Try a distribution like Kubuntu or Linux Mint for a few weeks :)


Linux people keep peddling this, I'd say it'll never be the year of Linux on Desktop if you keep denying you have problems. Last I tried to dual boot my Windows gaming rig to Ubuntu Desktop earlier this year, it can't even do fractional scaling on my 4K monitor, making it completely worthless. You'd think HiDPI support is pretty basic stuff in 2019. Granted Windows HiDPI is still craptastic compared to macOS, as least it has been usable since 2015.


Actually you can do this fairly easily by:

1) Learning nano/vim

2) Understanding what X window manager is and does

3) Understanding how config files work

4) Editing the appropriate config file to change DPI. Be careful not to do something wrong or you'll mess your system up

So easy my grandma could do it.


<s>Honestly can’t tell if this is sarcasm.</s> This is probably sarcasm.

If it’s not, you’re welcome to actually point out the configuration files I need to edit. I tried many “solutions”, even edited boot parameters to no avail. According to sources I read, someone without an Nvidia graphics card might have an easier time.


    xrandr --output HDMI-1 --scale 0.75x0.75 --mode 4096x2160
Play with the scale numbers and the resolution until you get the desired effect. Can't give a full tutorial here but "xrandr hdpi" should yield helpful search results.

I'm not denying it's a pain and Windows/MacOS are miles ahead, but this is how you can get by on Linux with X. I use it daily for work and media, on a variety of monitors.


Thanks for the info, will try this when I get around to it. But this sounds like scaling a low res image to fit the pixels instead of native HiDPI support, is that right? Then it will probably be blurry?

Edit: Maybe you meant using a native 2x scale paired with downscaling. Interesting, sounds promising.


Yeah it's definitely sarcasm. I love Linux but even I can't be arsed to get it to work half the time.


Of course, that's what I refer to as a windows dependent workflow, like gaming and graphics designing. And I do agree linux support for those stuff is still limited, but constantly improving(especially with Steam).


The way I see it, "desktop-dependent workflows" overlap more and more with those "Windows-dependent workflows". Nowadays, most people don't need more than a web browser, and in that sense they do just fine with a tablet or phone (where iOS and Android dominate, and GNU/Linux is not really a viable option, at least not yet), or a Chromebook (yes, it's Linux, but it's mainly just Chrome).

Most people I know with a legitimate use for a desktop also have legitimate reasons to use Windows or macOS: gaming on Windows, content creation on Windows or macOS (graphics designing, video editing, ...), and MS Office lock-in. The only exception I can think of are developers, but even then, depending on the kind of development one is doing, using Windows or macOS may be the only choice.


I'm a software developer. I mainly work web and android. That,ofcourse, I can't do it on a smartphone and my Linux distro probably does it better than Windows. Installing and configuring CLIs and other development tools are much easier on Linux. I usually just install a linux distro as dual boot to my peers rather than figuring out how to get those stuff configured right on windows. There are ofcourse things like ASP.NET that are difficult to develop on linux because Visual Studio isn't available but fortunately, I'm able to choose my stack and avoid such cases most of the time. The windows-dependent workflows doesn't mean that doing those things with Linux is impossible. An inspiring story was published here recently: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21504721 Where they switched from Windows/Pagemaker/Photoshop to Linux/Scribus/GIMP for the complete process of designing and publishing a commercial newspaper. For video editing, there is kdenlive, openshot and blender. GNU/Linux is definitely more than just a "web browser" OS and capable of doing most of the things that an average user does on windows.


I, too, develop for Android and, like you say, we have the "luxury" of being able to do it on both Windows and Linux (and macOS as well, if I wanted). Even .NET development is more cross-platform than ever, with .NET Core. One of my points was precisely that developers were an exception in this regard, as our tooling is generally cross-platform. You can't say the same about people who do their work primarily using Adobe tools, for example. And even developers sometimes don't have this luxury: for example, if you do iOS development, to publish on the app store, at some point you must use a Mac to sign the app. Of course you can use stuff like Xamarin and use the Mac exclusively to sign, but this is often inconvenient compared to just using the officially endorsed stack. Overall, requiring a "traditional desktop operating system" to work is less and less the case for the general population.


Using a 4K monitor in a sane way (things not small enough to the point of being unreadable or large enough to be completely in my face) is Windows dependent workflow? I never said I was dual booting for gaming.


What finally got me on Linux for good was Regolith (an Ubuntu distribution with a tiling WM preconfigured). The window manager is just better, faster, and I can use my vim shortcuts to move between windows and desktops. And, crucially for Linux, it came ready to go so I didn't have to spend days getting it working how I'd like.


Windows can do all sorts of little things on the desktop better than Linux; It may be that you simply do not use those features when you try Windows. I've had my fair share of UX troubles with desktop Linux throughout the years. Now, this would not be much of a problem if it wasn't such a headache to get things fixed in FOSS. Lack of feature ownership often means you have to commit to having certain issues that can be extremely breaking for your use case for years at a time (or be told to "fix it yourself"; hint: most Windows users aren't qualified or interested, so that's a deal breaker). Even Firefox on Windows has this problem.


Apple never wanted the enterprise. Hardware sells to the enterprise are low margin, require babysitting and they require backwards compatibility forever.

The computer market is dwarfed by the mobile market. Don’t forget that Apple became more successful than Dell in the early 2000s selling iPods of all things not by trying to compete in the enterprise.


> Apple never wanted the enterprise. Hardware sells to the enterprise are low margin, require babysitting and they require backwards compatibility forever.

I agree with much of this, except the idea that enterprise sales are low margin. Once you lock in an enterprise customer, the cost of switching to another provider becomes a large barrier. Your margin is dictated largely by the cost of your product, minus the cost of the competitor's, plus the cost of switching. If the cost of switching is high, the margins can also be high.

Apple does not derive its margins from the cost of switching (changing phones is relatively easy). They do generally have a better product, but they also provide incredible branding around being the best. Apples margins are dictated by cost of Apple's product, minus the competitors, plus value of affiliating yourself with their brand.


Apple’s products are better for the end user and they are willing to pay a premium. Enterprise sells aren’t to the end user they are to the buyer.

There is an existence proof or lack of existence. How many computer companies that were big in the enterprise like Dell and HP when Apple was almost bankrupt are big now?

Dell basically “gave the money back to shareholders”.


Your acquisition costs are higher too, since you have not only to undercut your competition, but to be lower than competition - switching cost...


”Apple never wanted the enterprise”

Are you sure? See e.g. IBM who use hundreds of thousands Macs https://www.computerworld.com/article/3452847/ibm-mac-users-...


I’m not saying they don’t occasionally get enterprise wins, but it’s not like they bend over backwards for it.


True.


Because the PC is an open platform and there is an ocean of devices to support. Manufactures are incentivized to produce drivers for the three platforms for their devices, but because of desktop dominance only MS can spend the dollars for competent cross device integration.


Just use Linux. It's really that simple.


I kind of agree, with distros like Ubuntu you get the Windows convenience and most of the people just use a browser for everything nowadays anyway.


We still don't have fully hardware accelerated video playback in browsers under Linux. To check this, watch a 4K video in the browser and look at the CPU usage.

Edit: I can block ads in various ways (pi.hole, etc.) but I can't fix laggy UI. I'm always using Linux on one of my PCs so that I can follow how it's progressing, but Win10+WSL2+VcXsrv gives me the best of all worlds.


Ubuntu isn't the only user friendly distro either. It depends on what the user wants to do. For example Manjaro, while not perfect, has an excellent hardware detector, and I sometimes recommend it for people who want to game.

I have many times wanted to really dig into the "windows skins" for a few different DE's and experiment on users to see if they even noticed the difference. I suspect done correctly you could have a windows lookalike with linux underneath that many of the browser only users wouldn't be able to tell apart. I also suspect that Microsoft knows they have hurt themselves with 8/10 and their recent pushes into Linux Foundation are hedging their bets, trying to find ways to keep people on doze who might otherwise leave the ecosystem. I do get frustrated at how many people at HN ignore MS's history of anti-foss and now deride anyone who brings up EEE, but I disgress. I went gnu/linux only years ago seeing this coming after years of sysadmin'ing Win/OSX/Linux, and haven't regretted it at all.

Beyond that, I remind people that they had to learn how to use windows, and even it keeps changing things (umm where did local account creation go at install, oh wait, I have to unplug ethernet to get that option? thats bullshit), so why not learn to use something like linux? It's really not that hard, especially with all the gtk frontends for cli stuff.


Eh, that's true for many consumers, but a lot of software still uses Windows and doesn't fit in a browser. For my hobby, I use Fusion 360, which makes heavy use of the GPU for rendering and simulation stuff. It does not support Linux.

So I use NixOS, run Windows 10 in KVM and use VFIO passthrough to give my VM a graphics card. This way I can use Linux for writing code and Windows for rich apps. It also shields me from the practical downsides of NixOS (limited software compatibility, lots of hair-pulling) since I can just use Windows if I'm in a bind.


Its not like this is the solution for everything. It's not even about ease of use, its mainly about the availability of software. About 80% of the software my colleagues use on a daily basis is not available on Linux (not including MS Office, although LibreOffice is definitely not a sufficient replacement) Sure, this is an issue of users in an enterprise environment, but your average PC user is more likely to use the same OS he is using at work rahter than trying anything else.


LibreOffice Calc isn't Excel, that alone makes Linux distros unappealing for most Office users.


My laptop runs two SSD’s: 256GB with Manjaro Linux, and 512GB with Windows.

My profession dictates I use .Net and SQL Server, so I anticipated using the windows drive most. I ran i3 on the Linux side, and used it mainly for hackier projects using more interesting languages than c#.

Quite soon I realised I could run .Net Core and SQL Server on Linux. Bastard as it might be, my main DB on Linux is SQL Server.

After this I found I didn’t need to spend any time in Windows, except for gaming (Linux gaming has improved, but it’s not great).

I installed Gnome alongside i3, and I’ve been flitting between the two based on my use case. Both are fantastic.

Linux does well when it forgets about Windows and MacOS. i3 is a great example here - it’s the archetypal ‘power user’ environment.

Gnome was the real surprise when I switched to it. I always remembered it as an ultra slow, half polished experience that typified the Linux experience. Great features (multiple desktops for example), introduced long before Apple invented them but absolutely done to death. I remember having a 16x16 grid of desktops.

Maybe it’s that my laptop right now is... quite quick, but default Gnome might just be my favourite modern OS. There are quirks - organising the apps screen is too painful to be worthwhile, but search is good enough. Wayland makes for a super smooth UX - Windows scale, slide and fade seamlessly.

I’d say I prefer my completely unmodified Gnome to MacOS and Windows. It’s the first time I’ve used a Linux DE and not thought it to be a cheap copy of the ‘big 2’. It’s doing it’s own thing, and doing it well.

So yeah, if you want IMO the best OS in the world right now, get Manjaro architect and install Gnome (I prefer the default Gnome to the preconfigured version). You’ll find issues - but remember Mac and Windows aren’t short of their own.

P.s. wayland has some GPU limitations - it’s great and improving rapidly, but it’s not fully mature yet. I also haven’t tested it on a shit PC yet - but I might try that tonight.


There are lots of useful applications that are not available on Linux.


hmm... why is this linking to a 404 now? Did this get taken down or intimidated out somehow?



We have win machine at the office with latest OS. I don’t see these ads at all. Clearly there is a way to prevent this otherwise companies would not go for it.


That’ not really the point of the article though.


Advertisement is not a cause of the problem. It's just an effect of a deeper one. The cause and effect chain goes like this: money-based world -> profit-oriented economy -> advertising.


Windows is a sold product with no free tier. isn't that the profit? it was part of the price I paid for the notebook. and they still make me see ads? that's a business model publishing would die for.


Publishing arrived there first. You're paying to buy newspapers and magazines but they still make you see ads.


There are ways of making money ethically, and failing that, legislation is there to keep things in check. This is why (in most of the developed world, at least) you don't see people in the street fighting & robbing each other all the time.


Legislation (laws) doesn't (always) protect ethic principles

https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-law-and-ethics...

This means you can act unethically and legally at the same time.


I agree it's not 100% perfect, and things do slip through the cracks; including in cases of big tech companies that move too fast compared to legislation and so can get away with what is essentially large-scale fraud, tax evasion, privacy violations, etc.

But the idea is if the market itself cannot solve the problem and it's causing significant harm to society then legislation is supposed to step in to prevent the behaviour deemed harmful.


So this is why I love Gnome, it doesn’t do this sort of shit.


Neither does KDE, LXDE, XFCE or any other FLOSS destop environments!


And I am very grateful to them also :-) I just prefer GNOME.


> what does that even mean

to me it reads like a description of "marketing accessibility" in more words. So, making your ads work well with screen readers. Truly a devilish conspiracy by M$ /s


"Advertisement needs to end."

"Privacy is the biggest, one of the most important challenges in technology today. Democracy depends on it."

in my opinion this article is a rant.




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