By M. Poorthoven
Windows 10 was released a short while ago with millions having downloaded it already. It is being lauded as the most widely adopted Windows at launch. Windows 10 is free for the first year, even for pirated editions of Windows so that even people with illegal versions of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 can use Windows 10 and get used to it and given a year Microsoft hope that even people who can’t afford it will eventually buy it.
Or at least that’s the illusion they are given for nothing comes free and this latest version of Windows is no exception. Putting all crashes, incompatibilities, lack of drivers, update problems and everything else that’s wrong with Windows 10, forcing Microsoft to release Service Pack 1 (they avowed not to release any more Service Packs after Windows 7 SP1, which is why we have Windows 8.1 and not Windows 8 SP1), aside there are problems that go far beyond all these blue screens and hardware that don’t work.
“If it’s free, you are the product”.
During Beta it became apparent that Microsoft were gathering vast amounts of telemetric data, from locations, to website visited. Most users are already used to this as Google, Bing, Yahoo (Bing), Baidu and basically all search engines do this, not to mention the unknown amount of cookies and trackers ads websites download onto a users computer. However, Microsoft weren’t happy with just collecting which websites people were visiting, they even collected all key presses and mouse clicks, files on the PC and their names, images viewed and files downloaded. Microsoft basically demanded full control of the OS during beta with all possible data being transmitted to their servers.
When this was pointed out many Beta users laughed at privacy concerned users stating that as this was Beta Microsoft could do as they pleased. Users were helping Microsoft improve the OS and had to put up with a lot more than just being the product. Every update would force a new reinstall of Windows 10, which was justified due to the Beta stage of the software.
Not long after release it turned out that those who were mocking privacy concerned users themselves were the fools for Windows 10 EULA stated clearly that Microsoft reserve the right to collect any and all data, including key presses, mouse clicks and all other forms of telemetric data and share it with whomever they pleased. Even Bit Locker passwords are saved on Microsoft’s servers. Websites all over the web exploded with outrage and many users dug deep to find out where the data was going and how to stop Microsoft from collecting whatever they like on their users. It’s turned out that Microsoft’s data collection makes that of Google and iOS look amateur.
The picture above, which is a collection of screen shots from Windows 10 shows that telemetric data gathering is far worse than anyone could have imagined and in some cases can’t even be disabled without going to quite an extent.
Why would Microsoft need to upload WiFi passwords or Facebook passwords to their servers? Why does Windows 10 need to, by default, create a WiFi network without a users consent in the first place?
Microsoft have also changed the way updates are received and rolled out. Users who decline the installation of a ‘feature’ more than twice will not be able to receive security updates either until those features have been installed. What those features could be are as of yet unknown. To add to this beyond irritating and mesmerising backward way of treating users is that users also can’t block driver updates. It has already been reported that users who installed up to date drivers for their hardware (motherboard, sound, video card, etc.) had them uninstalled and were forced by Windows 10 update to use outdated Windows drivers. This is one of the causes of massive headaches, BSOD’s and has made Windows 10 a nightmare. It can be argued that those who never update their drivers would benefit from this but those who do are severely affected by this design choice.
Fortunately a tool has been released by Microsoft that allows users who wish to have more control over their system to block drivers drivers and updates. The tool, which isn’t widely advertised, is not something Microsoft released willingly but had to due to immense problems Windows Update has created.
The tool can be found here at HowToGeek.com
And just when we thought we’d hit the bottom with how bad Windows 10 could get Microsoft dropped another bomb. They have reserved the right to disable unauthorised hardware and software. Unauthorised software pertains to services and programs such as Bing, Office, Skype and other Microsoft products but which hardware they are referring to is unknown as the terms are not clear and no list has been released. It’s possible that they will disable non-official Xbox controllers but they could easily take it to the extreme and block non-Microsoft mice, keyboards and everything else they desire within this grey area that they have created for themselves.
A list of products can be found here at OverClock.net
Unfortunately there are many ignorant people who willingly or unwillingly (paid, brainwashed or just too brain dead to understand) act as gatekeepers of the system with motto’s like “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” but that hasn’t stopped Windows 10 from being branded Win Spy or Win NSA Edition. Of course Microsoft have not revealed which third parties will be privy to this information but it’s obvious who those usual suspects are. Google censoring Youtube on behalf of the worlds most tyrannical despots shows that whoever demands this information will get it.
The US demand Google remove between 7 to 800 video’s from Youtube (increasing yearly) containing police brutality or criticism of the state. The UK is usually second with the rest of Europe and other Anglo Saxon moral wastelands coming next. China usually requests between 50 and 60 video’s to be removed, with most requests ignored.
It’s been known for years that all operating systems have back doors in them but now that Windows 10 doesn’t need a back door, it is the most intrusive and extensive spyware possible with an OS wrapping.
So what are the alternatives to Win Spy? Linux Ubuntu is not an alternative to this gigantic spyware as Ubuntu has Bing incorporated into it, making it as insecure and spy prone as Windows 10. Linux Mint, Arch, Gentoo and a few others are more privacy orientated as users have more input into the OS and there is a thriving community that helps build on them.
But Linux has its limits. Linux is not a Windows replacement yet as many programmes that run natively in Windows require Wine to run in Linux and Wine isn’t without its incompatibilities and problems. Many programs refuse to run in Wine and or are very unstable. Programs that require special permissions or install drivers won’t run as Wine can’t give such permissions as emulation is severely limited.
Mac OS is not an alternative either unless users wish to become locked into Apple’s eco system, which is also limited compared to that of Windows. In fact in many ways it’s far more limited than Linux. Microsoft have recently released Office for Mac but the problem with Apple PC’s is that users do not have control over the hardware, making repair or replacement either very costly or simply impossible.
Free BSD is also a possibility but again it’s a *nix based OS like Mac OS and Linux so it has its severe limitations. Android is also not an alternative but then who would want Google who are just as evil as Microsoft to develop an OS to replace Windows? Intel have been experimenting with Android x86 and it’s obvious that it can’t replace Windows now, if ever. It’s a phone and tablet orientated OS that lacks productivity. Office programs are not up to par and though WPS has been catching up fast it’s still a mere shadow of LibreOffice, let alone Microsoft Office. And this counts for the Windows version of WPS too.
XP could once have been considered an alternative but XP has had its time. It is a 32bit operating system that can’t use more than 3.5GB of RAM and though Microsoft patched its kernel (the core of the OS, not to be confused with source code) to that of Vista with SP 3 it can’t use more than two cores efficiently, leaving 6 and 8 thread or core CPU’s more or less in the cold as its scheduler is outdated. When XP was first released the most powerful computers were Pentium III or K6’s at about 500MHz with at most 128MB RAM and not even 10GB hard disks. XP64 was released but as that’s Server 2003 renamed to XP it lacks driver support and even that can’t use multiple cores efficiently.
When Vista was released a group of developers tried to port DirectX10 (henceforth DX) to XP so that even XP users could use the marvels that DX10 brought but they gave up as it was extremely time consuming and difficult to extract DX10 from Vista. It is too enmeshed in Vista and the easiest way of using DX10 was for users to upgrade to Vista and beyond. It’s no accident that XP drivers don’t work in Vista or visa versa but Vista drivers do work in Win 7 and certain Vista drivers even work in Windows 8.1. This isn’t odd as Vista is Windows version 6, Win 7 is version 6.1, Win 8 is version 6.2 and finally Win 8.1 is version 6.3. Windows 10 breaks with this and is version 10 but it should be version 6.4 as drivers for Win 8.1 and even 7 work in Windows 10.
Microsoft are using DirectX12 as a selling point and luring many young gamers to Win 10, without those users understanding what is happening in and around the OS. Unlike DX10 that couldn’t easily be ported from Vista to XP DX12 can easily be made to work in Win 7 or 8.1 but Microsoft know that most gamers wouldn’t even touch Windows 10 in that case, as there would be no need for them to waste time dealing with bug fixes and waiting for Microsoft to patch everything that is broken in Win 10. The last thing Microsoft want is a repeat of XP, an operating system that lasts an eternity in the computing world.
The transition from DX9 to 10 to 11 were far smaller than the leap that Microsoft are making with DX12. DX12 brings some major changes to the way CPU’s and graphics cards communicate and work that goes beyond mere gaming. Some of the promises that Microsoft have been making in regards to the field of graphics card compute (GPGPU) can now be accomplished. But this isn’t Microsoft achieving something great, this is AMD’s Mantle and portions of HSA having been incorporated into DX12 and forming an integral part of it, which is why AMD ceased working on Mantle and directed developers to develop for Vulkan (OpenGL port of Mantle) and DX12. This seems to be the one and only thing good thing about Windows 10.
To make matters worse they have declared that this will be the last version of Windows as we know it. There will no be more an up front purchase of an entire OS that will then last for as long as the user desired. Microsoft will move towards an Apple style system of yearly releases and updates and micro transactions. It is possible that in time everything from the latest DirectX, to drivers, multiple screens, new hardware (such as motherboard, CPU, RAM, hard disk), will become monetised.
This is just an example, the possibilities are endless.
This idea has been floating around for years and the stage for such events were set when users had to call Microsoft to get their Windows validated after installation and most people accepted it as the new normal and warnings that contradicted the corporate doctrine were dismissed as tin foil hat conspiracies but what is happening now is beyond all dire predictions made. The only thing left for Microsoft, Apple and the like to do is move everything to the cloud and charge users by the minute for even daring to use their computers but it’s clear that the usual criminal suspects would charge us for the air we breathe for not being part of the chosen master race.
Not all hope is lost, there are ways to block Microsoft from gathering all and any data. The following links show the most effective ways to block all telemetric data, disable One Drive and prevent Win 10 from transmitting all possible data to Bing and their servers.
This link at Reddit.com contains the most definitive guide as to how it’s done
Do not use Express Settings. Hit Customize, and make sure everything is turned off.
It’s strongly preferred that you use a local account = with Windows 10.
Head to Settings > Privacy, and disable everything, unless there are some things you really need.
While within the Privacy page, go to Feedback, select Never in the first box, and Basic in the second box.
Head to Settings > Update and Security > Advanced Options > Choose how updates are delivered, and turn the first switch off.
Disable Cortana by clicking the Search bar/icon.
(Optional) Disable web search in Search by going to Settings, and turning off Search online and include web results.
Change the name of your PC by going to Start (or hitting the Windows key), typing About PC, and clicking Rename PC.
Open up the Command Prompt by launching cmd as an administrator, and enter the following:
sc delete DiagTrack sc delete dmwappushservice echo “” > C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Diagnosis\ETLLogs\AutoLogger\AutoLogger-Diagtrack-Listener.etl
Open up the Group Policy Editor by launching gpedit.msc as an administrator. Go through Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Data Collection and Preview Builds.
Double click Telemetry, hit Disabled, then apply.
NOTE: This only truly works in the Enterprise edition, but the final step provides a decent enough workaround for Pro users.
While still in the Group Policy Editor, go through Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > OneDrive, double click Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage, hit Enabled, then apply.
While still in the Group Policy Editor, go through Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender, double click Turn Off Windows Defender, hit Enabled, then apply.
Open up the Registry Editor by launching regedit as an administrator. Go throughHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\DataCollection, select AllowTelemetry, change its value to 0, then apply.
First, download the and enable it. Then, head to the Hosts File by going throughC:\Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc, take ownership of the hosts file, and add all of the IPs from this page into the file (http://paste2.org/A1sv86VF).
Up To You
Replace Microsoft Edge/Internet Explorer with Firefox, Chromium, or any forks/variations of them.
Replace Windows Media Player with VLC or MPC-HC
Replace Groove Music with Foobar2000, Winamp, or MusicBee.
Replace Photos/Windows Photo Viewer with ImageGlass or IrfanView.
A more extensive guide at Reddit.com detailing the steps above with a list of links that need to be added to the Hosts file.
Here is a link at Reddit.com with a tool that automates this for inexperienced users.
A direct link to the tool at GitHumb.com
A note on the tool: disable will stop trackers but not remove them, delete will remove trackers entirely. Privacy concerned users are advised to use delete, not disable. This tool is open source so anyone concerned can check the code for themselves.
Users who do not trust Reddit will find that there are many websites detailing guides on how tracking and telemetrics can be disabled but Reddit contains the most extensive guides.
It is entirely unknown what Microsoft will do with the upcoming Service, it is possible that they disable these workarounds and somehow install more or new trackers but so far these guides are the only effective way of blocking data from within Windows. Alternatively it’s possible to add the addresses to which Microsoft transmit date to a routers block lost so they are also externally blocked.
Unfortunately not all routers support very long addresses in their block lists so the most effective way of blocking these addresses and ensure they remain permanently blocked is to build a pfSense or similar hardware router. It is possible to buy pfSense routers from pfSense.org but they can be rather costly and for people with limited means self assembling one out of old or second hand parts is a very good alternative as pfSense only requires very modest hardware to run on the majority of home connections.
The pfSense router website with hardware requirements.
The world Orwell envisaged was a shadow of the world we live in today. He couldn’t have known of the computers we have today, ranging from PC’s, laptops to phones, the Kinect or even Amazon’s listening post. But Microsoft have gone to the fullest extreme of electronic spying by planting an OS that spies on everything you do, say, watch and listen. Skype has been spied upon and recorded for years. No email is safe and Google and Microsoft hand over emails readily to governments but Microsoft have gone to the logical extreme of world domination and tyranny without people even realising it. This Perfect Day is already upon us and we sleep walked into 1984.
Windows 10 should be renamed Windows 1984 as that is the true nature of the operating system.