So it has been two weeks since the official Windows 10 launch, and there have been a lot of discussions about it. I am going to summarize some of my own thoughts, now that I had the chance to test it myself.
Windows 10 is the newest and supposedly last version of the ever so popular operating system. I have written before about my concerns regarding the continuing vendor lock-in, especially DirectX, so I will try to not repeat myself.
From an end-user perspective, Windows 10 definitely feels better than Windows 8, which was crippled by design, due to the focus on the Metro view. Windows 10 brings back the “Start” menu, which I very much appreciate. The desktop in and of itself feels okay-ish, but lacks consistency in terms of UI style. It certainly feels unfinished, not only visually, but also technically. On the test machine used, an all-in-one Dell with some 2.5 GHz quad core and 12 GB of memory, almost every window opened was white for roughly a second before it loaded, which makes the whole system feel really unresponsive and unpolished.
But let us get to the real topic of discussion here, the obvious surveillance “features”. When Windows 10 launched, people saw the new installer for the first time. The installer proudly promoted an “Express Installation” and almost tried to hide the manual configuration, which almost exclusively contained privacy-related options that were all defaulting to invading your personal space. I myself have written up a small satirical piece about it. Despite the majority of these options being hidden away, especially after the installation, there are some options you cannot even deactivate at all, like the automatic transmission of “diagnostic and usage data” (assuming you do not use Enterprise Edition).
Yesterday, a Czech analyst found out that Windows 10 sends its keylogger logs home regularly, as well as scraping your drives after you search for movie names (what might be the thought behind this, hmmm…), sending some 35 MB of encrypted data after using the webcam for the first time (hmmm, again), and of course sending voice data, even when deactivating Cortana entirely. The voice data alone makes up about 80 MB every 15 minutes.
There have also been reports, that these calls home are hardcoded in such a way, that you cannot use the (internal) firewall to block them, and they might leak your IP and other sensitive data if you are using a VPN or Tor.
In the end, while I have no particular desire to use Windows at all, with this developments, I do not know if I even feel save around a Windows 10 machine anymore, let alone using one. Sadly, the average user out there does not know anything about this (I imagine), and they will be the ones violated. This is a nightmare, and I desperately hope that Windows 10 will not catch on. Microsoft has shown its true nature, its endgame, and it is bad. I do not think, anyone can trust them anymore, at all.