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Practical Options Instead of Windows 10?


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#1 rockpiler

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 10:46 PM

Greetings from a new member looking for opinions and advice regarding Windows 10.  I'm about to purchase a new laptop and wanted to know would others recommend a different OS, and if so, are they really practical for the average user (me).  I've read dozens of reviews and opinions, which are mostly negative or unfavorable, with some neutral but very few with words of praise.  But I've noted almost all of these were posted 1-2 years ago, which leads me to ask if past and recent updates have fixed or addressed concerns and improved the product as at least acceptable.  My biggest concern is a consensus that from a security standpoint it's horribly invasive and intrusive.  Do I have an actually practical alternative?  Back to Windows 7 or 8?  Or have consumers begrudgingly accepted it and moved on?  Any and all replies and experiences are encouraged...thanks.



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#2 pcpunk

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 11:06 PM

You will find tons of info HERE

 

EDIT: Haha, I clicked on the wrong forum, I thought I was in Windows 10 Support and not Discussion.

 

There is nothing really wrong with Windows 10 IMO and others here will agree.  You are always being tracked by someone on the net, though maybe Windows 10 more so.  Personally I like Windows 10, but 7 is easier for me to use, and there is more, easier control over Updates, and no major Upgrades.  The worst thing about Windows Ten IMO, is there are too many major upgrades.  They say Windows 10 is the last release ever! and I can see why, because they will just keep Upgrading it forever lol.  I like Windows 8 also, but 7 and 8 are hard to reinstall compared to 10.  So if you are careful and not prone to damaging your OS then 7 or 8 would be nice for the above reasons.  There are things you can do to avoid some of the Spying on 10 but they are to much  work for me to bother with.  During Install Setup I just opt out of all that I can, and I don't sign in to MS Account, though this has it's drawbacks also.

 

To answer your question directly, I would say no, there is no Practical Alternative, Windows 10 is pretty darn good, and almost all new computers come with it installed.  I would consider getting a nice used pc with windows 7 on it, or even windows 8.1.  And, or, you could also Consider a Linux Operating System.  You could ask questions HERE if you want.  Linux is probably not for most though, and you need to be a bit of a geek to spend the time to learn it.  Quite easy to do all the basics, and these days is a pretty darn good desktop for even some Seniors.  I know some seniors that use it and love it, because they don't get infections.  In fact there is a company that uses it as a custom desktop just for Seniors.


Edited by pcpunk, 11 November 2017 - 11:09 PM.

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#3 philbo

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 12:21 AM

I'd stick with Windows 10. It works well, looks great, and is well supported.

 

Apart from the frequent large upgrades, I can't say anything bad about it.



#4 Rocky Bennett

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 09:40 AM

I agree. I love Windows 10 because it is fast, efficient and very, very versatile.  As far as the tracking, there really is no way to hide any personal data if you connect your computer to the internet. I use Windows 10 in a dual boot with openSUSE and I do not think that there is any difference in the amount of data that my ISP is able to collect and sell no matter which OS I use.

 

I think that with today's hardware, the only choice is Windows 10. You can customize it to your liking and it will take advantage of all of the security features of today's new hardware. I use Classic Shell, but the stock start menu is fine too.

 

http://www.classicshell.net/


Edited by Rocky Bennett, 12 November 2017 - 12:53 PM.

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#5 JohnC_21

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 09:53 AM

There is software that will stop most of the phoning home Windows 10 does. Using it is up to you. It is easily removed and I have had no issues with it.

 

https://www.safer-networking.org/spybot-anti-beacon/

 

antibeacon10-full.png



#6 pcpunk

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 10:28 AM

Some of this stuff can be turned off via THIS ARTICLE


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#7 britechguy

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 10:41 AM

Almost all of the stuff that Spybot Anti-Beacon blocks can be turned off in user settings.  Telemetry cannot.  It is a convenient tool if you want to block pretty much everything from going to Microsoft.   For myself, I do not.  I set my telemetry to basic.  The advantages gained from the use of telemetry in stopping the oft-talked-about "bad update" has become quite obvious since the advent of Windows 10.  Even the roll outs of the major feature updates have been slowed down on several occasions when issues were occurring "in the wild" that had not occurred during testing.

 

Given the number of computers running Windows 10, many of which were never intended to do so and never certified to do so by their own makers, it's impossible for Microsoft to have a testbed that can possibly take anything close to all hardware configurations into account.  The system health telemetry is the first real attempt to be "intelligent in real time" and to try to detect if something is going wrong in the field, determine why it's going wrong on a limited number of machines, and fixing it before sending it out to more.  That's a big, big, big plus in my book.  


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website address in my profile) Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, Version 1709, Build 16299

       

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
              

 


#8 rockpiler

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 11:06 AM

Thanks, Brian.  Appreciate your answer and explanation of telemetry - informative without being too technical.  And thanks to the rest of you for your insight and experiences.



#9 rp88

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 06:13 PM

Turning off windows 10's telemetry isn't really a guarantee, a forcibly pushed update (all updates are mandatory on 10) can re-enable it. Such an update can also re-enable any other setting which you don't like but microsoft does. That's not to say that they WILL do this if you've disabled telemetry with settings and specialist tools, but they still CAN. Linux is a better option, 7 and 8.1 are also good options but may be hard to get install media for thesedays.

If you're asking these questions in preparation to BUY a PC (rather than simply install a new OS on an existing one) then make sure that you can turn OFF secureboot in the new PC's BIOS/UEFI, if not you'll be trapped with windows 10, I don't think any standard PC (not including touchscreen tablet like things) is sold with secureboot locked on but you need to make sure of this before purchase, and make sure that manufacturers know that locked secure boot isn't welcome buy not purchasing devices with it. If you want to go to linux then it's best infact to make sure to test a live linux USB on a display PC in the shop you'll buy from, this may also give some indications of whether it ought to be possible to install 7 or 8.1 onto the pc to replace 10. Except a few specialist online retailers your only option for buying computers is barebones (and this is for towers only, I don't think anywhere sells laptops like this) or windows 10, so you'll have to wipe 10 and reinstall a different OS yourself* if 10 doesn't suit you.

I have a strong personal dislike of windows 10, so my answers might be a little biased, but choosing an OS is largely a matter of personal taste, so make sure you get something you like.

*or dual boot and leave 10 in place

Edited by rp88, 20 November 2017 - 06:14 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#10 britechguy

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 06:31 PM

Turning off windows 10's telemetry isn't really a guarantee, a forcibly pushed update (all updates are mandatory on 10) can re-enable it. Such an update can also re-enable any other setting which you don't like but microsoft does. That's not to say that they WILL do this if you've disabled telemetry with settings and specialist tools, but they still CAN.

 

You are correct, that ongoing updates are part and parcel of Windows 10 and the "Windows as a service" era, and that telemetry is not connected to getting feature updates when they are released.  Telemetry can, however, assist in delaying updates on specific hardware when issues are identified with it from other machines that had received a feature update earlier.

 

I always tell people to recheck their Privacy settings and their Power Options after every major feature update in Windows 10.  The number of settings changes done by the feature updates is far fewer than it was in the early days, but they still occur.  It seems that "Fast Startup" comes back with some regularity during feature updates, but not with all of them.  I haven't had any changes in Privacy settings, or Cortana settings, since the update to Version 1607, if memory is serving correctly.

 

Telemetry is about telling Microsoft how Windows 10 is performing, and with differing levels of specificity.  The "Full" level may include data you would prefer it did not.  I generally set all machines to basic, since Microsoft's use of telemetry has decreased, significantly, the number of problematic patches that used to get pushed out and identified only after people started calling and reporting issues.  Basic telemetry collected by Microsoft, in aggregate, gives them information about how a given update is behaving for a given cohort of machines to which it was delivered.  If something is identified about how things are going in the field that did not show up in testing Microsoft has slowed down or ever stopped ongoing delivery until the issue or issues are fixed.

 

In today's world there are millions of machines running Windows 10 that were never certified by their manufacturer's as Windows 10 Compatible and so many different hardware configurations that Microsoft, or any software company, could ever possibly have a testing setup that allows all of them to be tested on.  Telemetry is a godsend for keeping things from going BOOM!! for a huge number of users that would have if released to "the whole world" at one time.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website address in my profile) Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, Version 1709, Build 16299

       

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#11 Joe C

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 08:57 PM

People should not accept tracking or invasion of privacy, Windows 10 does go beyond normal telemetry and it does get personal (advertising). We are heading into a dangerous society where nothing is private and even worse, peeps are accepting that as o.k.

It's Not O.K.

 

Please Read;

 

Every so often, you hear the argument “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, in order to justify increased and invasive surveillance. This argument is not only dangerous, but dishonest and cowardly, too.

In the comments to yesterday’s post about Sweden’s DNA register, some expressed the “nothing to hide” argument – that efficiency of law enforcement should always be an overriding factor in any society-building, usually expressed as “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. This is a very dangerous mindset. The argument is frequently raised in debates by pro-big brother hawks, and doing so is dangerous, cowardly, and dishonest.

There are at least four good reasons to reject this argument solidly and uncompromisingly: The rules may change, it’s not you who determine if you’re guilty, laws must be broken for society to progress, and privacy is a basic human need.

Let’s look at these in detail. They go from the less important and more obvious, to the less obvious and more important.

One – The rules may change: Once the invasive surveillance is in place to enforce rules that you agree with, the ruleset that is being enforced could change in ways that you don’t agree with at all – but then, it is too late to protest the surveillance. For example, you may agree to cameras in every home to prevent domestic violence (“and domestic violence only”) – but the next day, a new political force in power could decide that homosexuality will again be illegal, and they will use the existing home cameras to enforce their new rules. Any surveillance must be regarded in terms of how it can be abused by a worse power than today’s.

Two – It’s not you who determine if you have something to fear: You may consider yourself law-abidingly white as snow, and it won’t matter a bit. What does matter is whether you set off the red flags in the mostly-automated surveillance, where bureaucrats look at your life in microscopic detail through a long paper tube to search for patterns. When you stop your car at the main prostitution street for two hours every Friday night, the Social Services Authority will draw certain conclusions from that data point, and won’t care about the fact that you help your elderly grandmother – who lives there – with her weekly groceries. When you frequently stop at a certain bar on your way driving home from work, the Department of Driving Licenses will draw certain conclusions as to your eligibility for future driving licenses – regardless of the fact that you think they serve the world’s best reindeer meatballs in that bar, and never had had a single beer there. People will stop thinking in terms of what is legal, and start acting in self-censorship to avoid being red-flagged, out of pure self-preservation. (It doesn’t matter that somebody in the right might possibly and eventually be cleared – after having been investigated for six months, you will have lost both custody of your children, your job, and possibly your home.)

Two and a half – Point two assumes that the surveillance even has correct data, which it has been proven time and again to frequently not have.

Three – Laws must be broken for society to progress: A society which can enforce all of its laws will stop dead in its tracks. The mindset of “rounding up criminals is good for society” is a very dangerous one, for in hindsight, it may turn out that the criminals were the ones in the moral right. Less than a human lifetime ago, if you were born a homosexual, you were criminal from birth. If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, the lobby groups for sexual equality could never have formed; it would have been just a matter of rounding up the organized criminals (“and who could possibly object to fighting organized crime?”). If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, homosexuality would still be illegal and homosexual people would be criminals by birth. It is an absolute necessity to be able to break unjust laws for society to progress and question its own values, in order to learn from mistakes and move on as a society.

Four – Privacy is a basic human need: Implying that only the dishonest people have need of any privacy ignores a basic property of the human psyche, and sends a creepy message of strong discomfort. We have a fundamental need for privacy. I lock the door when I go to the men’s room, despite the fact that nothing secret happens in there: I just want to keep that activity to myself, I have a fundamental need to do so, and any society must respect that fundamental need for privacy. In every society that doesn’t, citizens have responded with subterfuge and created their own private areas out of reach of the governmental surveillance, not because they are criminal, but because doing so is a fundamental human need.

Finally, it could be noted that this argument is also commonly used by the authorities themselves to promote surveillance and censorship, while rejecting transparency and free speech. Those who want to have a little fun can play the reverse card as illustrated by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

The next time you hear anybody say “if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide”, tell them that’s an absolutely false and dangerous argument, and point them at this article.

Rick Falkvinge


Edited by Joe C, 20 November 2017 - 08:58 PM.


#12 britechguy

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 09:13 PM

I have been using Windows 10 since it's debut, and with my advertising ID use forbidden I have yet to get a single ad, unless you consider the very occasional prompting to try Cortana or Edge.

 

And no one is more picky about privacy than I am.  But I don't consider what my OS is doing at the level of basic telemetry to be in any way private.  If you want to know what's included at full and basic levels see:  https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/configuration/windows-diagnostic-data


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website address in my profile) Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, Version 1709, Build 16299

       

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
              

 


#13 Joe C

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 09:38 PM

What about this "telemerty"?


Name and contact data. We collect your first and last name, email address, postal address, phone number, and other similar contact data.

Credentials. We collect passwords, password hints, and similar security information used for authentication and account access.

Demographic data. We collect data about you such as your age, gender, country, and preferred language.

Payment data. We collect data necessary to process your payment if you make purchases, such as your payment instrument number (such as a credit card number), and the security code associated with your payment instrument.

Device and Usage data. We collect data about your device and how you and your device interact with Microsoft and our products. For example, we collect:

  • Product use data. We collect data about the features you use, the items you purchase, and the web pages you visit. This data includes your voice and text search queries or commands to Bing, Cortana, and our chat bots. This also includes the settings you select and the software configurations your use most.
  • Device, connectivity and configuration data. We collect data about your device and the network you use to connect to our products. It includes data about the operating systems and other software installed on your device, including product keys. It also includes IP address, device identifiers (such as the IMEI number for phones), regional and language settings.

Interests and favorites. We collect data about your interests and favorites, such as the teams you follow in a sports app, the programming languages you prefer, the stocks you track in a finance app, or the favorite cities you add to a weather app. In addition to those you explicitly provide, your interests and favorites may also be inferred or derived from other data we collect.

Contacts and relationships. We collect data about your contacts and relationships if you use a Microsoft product to manage contacts, for example Outlook.com, or to communicate or interact with other people or organizations, for example Visual Studio Team Services.

Location data. For products with location-enhanced features, we collect data about your location, which can be either precise or imprecise. Precise location data can be Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data (e.g., GPS), as well as data identifying nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, we collect when you enable location-based products or features. Imprecise location data includes, for example, a location derived from your IP address or data that indicates where you are located with less precision, such as at a city or postal code level.

Content. We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the products you use. For example, if you transmit a file using Skype to another Skype user, we need to collect the content of that file to display it to you and the other user as you direct. If you receive an email using Outlook.com, we need to collect the content of that email to deliver it to your inbox, display it to you, enable you to reply to it, and store it for you until you choose to delete it. Other data we collect to provide communication services to you include the:

  • subject line and body of an email,
  • text or other content of an instant message,
  • audio and video recording of a video message, and
  • audio recording and transcript of a voice message you receive or a text message you dictate.

There's quite a bit more data to read up on, yes, some is o.k. but some is not

https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement



#14 britechguy

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 11:18 PM

Joe,

 

        Pay careful attention (and I have) to the  things like:

 

            -  "features you use, the items you purchase, and the web pages you visit. This data includes your voice and text search queries or commands to Bing, Cortana, and our chat bots."

 

                      Since I have never purchased from the Windows store, do not use Edge, do not have any of the Cortana PDA features turned on, and don't use Microsoft chat bots there's nothing to collect of a personal nature.

 

            - "to connect to our products"

 

                      Of course, if you are connect to Microsoft products, 

 

            -  "We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the products you use."

 

but if you don't connect to a multitude of Microsoft products or services there's not much to collect.  If you used Outlook.com under any version of Windows then Microsoft has had access to your e-mail messages and attachments throughout.  The same for other services.  There is nothing really new here.

 

The list of provisos, all directly related to specific product/online service use, goes on and on.   It's almost all connected to using Microsoft Services, not Windows itself, and that was made very clear even in the early EULA.  Of course if I were to use Microsoft services to manage my data I pretty much have to grant access to my information to use them, but I don't.

 

I have told people before that if they wish to have some idea of what the volume of data is that is sent back to Microsoft under their current settings they should install a monitoring program such as Glasswire.  I have posted on these very forums about what I found about my own system on multiple occasions, and that amount was minimal.

 

Also, anyone who doesn't think that system health telemetry is involved in their Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 systems hasn't been paying attention to the fact that this telemetry has been installed in them, too.  It is also separate from the data collection for the various services, if you use those.

 

If you are doing what most people do in cyberspace, using any company's infrastructure to transmit your information, you have granted them access to it, at a minimum.   They'd have to be crazy, from both a PR perspective and a business trust perspective, to hand it out to anyone else at a personally identifiable level.  The ship of data aggregation, and mining of aggregate data, sailed ages ago as did trading strong privacy for "free" (the cost is information) services.

 

There are choices to be made, and people should be aware that they're making them, and providing the information in writing is about as "black and white" as it can get, even if it's not simple to slog through.

 

This all applies to entities besides Microsoft, too.

 

I do not delude myself that the kind of privacy that was common in prior generations has applied to me for decades now, even though I was born when it was common.  A great deal of privacy was not because scads of information was not available via public records, but because those public records were not easily accessed.  The days of having to go to the county courthouse (as one example) to dig through records is, as a general rule, long over.  As everything becomes digitized from its creation forward and accessible from any computer the public record becomes, in the truest sense of the word, public.  That's the biggest change to privacy that I've observed during my lifetime of a bit over 50 years.

 

Targeted marketing/advertising has, of course, become infinitely easier than it once was, too, and largely for very similar reasons.  But, I find the kind of tracking that occurs (unless you take measures to block it) to be particularly loathsome.  It's one of the reasons I use adblockers, tracking blockers, and similar.  My travels through cyberspace shouldn't be available for random companies to mine for their benefit, not mine.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website address in my profile) Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, Version 1709, Build 16299

       

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
              

 


#15 Joe C

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 12:03 PM

Your more than welcome to live your life as you see fit, whether or not you care about your privacy is your business, Please be aware of what your not seeing or reading that your belief may blind you. There are some points that no matter how you convince yourself is "proper telemetry" it is not...

 

We collect data about you such as your age, gender,

We collect data about the features you use, the items you purchase, and the web pages you visit

software installed on your device, including product keys. It also includes IP address, device identifiers (such as the IMEI number for phones)

We collect data about your interests and favorites, such as the teams you follow in a sports app,the stocks you track in a finance app, or the favorite cities you add to a weather app, your interests and favorites may also be inferred or derived from other data we collect

We collect data about your contacts and relationships to communicate or interact with other people or organizations

we collect data about your location

We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the products you use.

Microsoft may use your data to select and deliver some of the ads you see on Microsoft web properties, such as Microsoft.com, MSN and Bing.

Advertisers may choose to place our web beacons on their sites in order to allow Microsoft to collect information on their sites such as activities, purchases and visits; we use this data on behalf of our advertising customers to help target their ads

We may share data we collect with third parties, such as Oath, AppNexus, or Facebook (see below), so that they can select and deliver some of the ads you see in our products, their products, or other sites and apps serviced by these partners.

The ads that you see may be selected based on data we process about you, such as your interests and favorites, your location, your transactions, how you use our products, your search queries, or the content you view.

The ads that you see may also be selected based on other information learned about you over time using demographic data, location data, search queries, interests and favorites, usage data from our products and sites, as well as the sites and apps of our advertisers and partners. We refer to these ads as "interest-based advertising" in this statement.

We will access, transfer, disclose, and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails in Outlook.com, or files in private folders on OneDrive), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary

Please note that some of our products include links to products of third parties whose privacy practices differ from Microsoft's. If you provide personal data to any of those products, your data is governed by their privacy statements.

 

 

Of course some of these statements are cherry picked, because you seem to like doing that, and a lot of the EULA is reasonable but there's a few that seriously make me question their ideas to "help" me when my pc has an issue. Microsoft is as bad if not worse than Google, and yes,what Google does and many others do is not o.k. either

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/11/an-alarming-number-of-sites-employ-privacy-invading-session-replay-scripts/

Now that my Mrs. and I are at retirement age, I think we will Unplug in 2020 and learn to socialize with other real people in real time :)


Edited by Joe C, 21 November 2017 - 12:12 PM.





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