It's funny and equally sad that year 2015 marks the end of the Windows OS for a lot of people. There are several issues with Windows which, at present, make Spyware/Malware OS 10 inappropriate
and even outright dangerous for a lot of people. The most egregious, of course, is a total abandonment of any form of privacy and control.
Firstly, Microsoft openly stated that pervasive data
collection will be present in any Windows version starting from Windows 10 and as a host of research on the Internet shows, this data collection cannot be disabled using official means. If
you decide to disable total tracking (including keyboard scanning and voice recording) you'll have to disable over a hundred different Internet addresses and then no one guarantees that a
new Windows update doesn't add new hosts because Microsoft surely is not interested in losing such a lucrative feature meant for Big Brother agencies. Read the rest of the article for
official Microsoft statements and for various information on how Windows breaches you privacy and how you might try to control it (it's almost futile btw).
Secondly, Microsoft has stripped us of controlling Windows updates. It was ostensibly done to improve the user experience by keeping the system up to date and perhaps malware free, but
the truth is that a built-in antimalware protection in Windows is simply horrible (according to various AV comparisons Microsoft Essentials misses over 20% of in the wild malware) and said
updates mean nothing for security because over 90% of infections happen due to the user actions (like downloading and installing dubious applications). No Windows update can prevent such a
Thirdly, as Microsoft has stated multiple times, Windows 10 will not have any service packs, Windows 10 is the final version of Windows, because Windows 10 has become a service, it will
be updated over time to bring new features and remove the old ones. Windows 10 you might have updated to in July 2015 will be a different OS than Windows 10 plus all its updates a year
Let me say that I've always been a big fan of Windows because Microsoft does care about compatibility vs. many other tech companies which break backward compatibility all the time. However
I've always felt that there are no resources or articles on the web which dig deep into Windows' problems and therefore I wrote this very concise essay. Mind that it was not
created to say that Linux is better (it's definitely not). It was created to stop Microsoft
fans roaring in regard to Windows 10 and how it's better than Windows 7 in every regard - it's actually worse in most regards aside from DirectX 12 (which is actually hidden from the user
and it's only exposed in games).
You may probably want to know why Windows 10 feels so buggy. Here's a very nice quote:
Full Disclosure: I worked at M$ from 2014-2015.
MS has some very talented programmers. They're not very common, but they exist. The problem is that the entire company is completely and totally focused on developing an absurd number of new features and products, giving them completely unrealistic deadlines, and then shipping software on those deadlines no matter how half-assed or buggy it is.
The idea is that everything is serviceable over the internet now, so they can just "fix it later", except they never do. This perpetuates a duct-tape culture that refuses to actually fix problems and instead rewards teams that find ways to work around them. The talented programmers are stuck working on code that, at best, has to deal with multiple badly designed frameworks from other teams, or at worst work on code that is simply scrapped. New features are prioritized over all but the most system-critical bugs, and teams are never given any time to actually focus on improving their code. The only improvements that can happen must be snuck in while implementing new features.
As far as M$ is concerned, all code is shit, and the only thing that matters is if it works well enough to be shown at a demo and shipped. Needless to say, I don't work there anymore.
In a new, not that unexpected, turn of events Microsoft now foists ads as part of ... security updates for Windows 7 and 8/8.1 (KB3139929 which says nothing about this new "feature"). People were afraid but never believed it would happen. It now has.
So, there are two kinds of issues with the Windows operating system created by Microsoft. The first kind is the issues intrinsic to every Windows version starting from Windows Vista (XP is out of circulation and support so let's forget about it).
Problems which are present in every version of Windows for PC
- Devastating Windows rot (might be solved in future Windows releases if developers switch from Win32 to UWP).
- No enforced file system and registry hierarchy (I have yet to find a single serious application which can uninstall itself cleanly and fully). The $USER directory in Windows, specially in Windows 10, is an inexplicable mess.
- svchost.exe (the whole philosophy of preserving RAM this way became outdated years ago).
- No true safe mode (rogue applications may easily run in it).
- No clean state (for most OEM installations out there). This will be finally solved in new Windows 10 builds.
- The user as a system administrator (thus viruses/malware - most users don't and won't understand UAC warnings).
- No good packaging mechanism (MSI is way too fragile).
- No system wide update mechanism (which includes third party software - to be fair there are 3d party applications which offer this functionality, but then such applications don't support core Windows updates).
- In certain cases it's extremely difficult to find or update drivers for your hardware devices (anyone who's tried to install a fresh Windows onto their laptop will testify).
- Windows is extremely difficult to debug (e.g. try finding out why your system is slow to boot).
- Windows boot problems are too often fatal and unsolvable unless you reinstall from scratch.
- Windows is hardware dependent (especially when running from UEFI).
- Windows updates are terribly unreliable, very slow (to install) and they also waste disk space. The only released Windows 7 SP1 cumulative update, totally breaks the Windows Updates service (the worst piece of software in the human history). This issue is now two months old and Microsoft doesn't even apologize for it. Literally billions of watts of energy are spent and they don't give a damn! Did Microsoft fire everyone in their QA/QC department?
- Windows cannot replace system DLLs on the fly and restart corresponding services which depend on said DLLs due to its architecture. As a result some system updates require multiple reboots (innocuous malevolence in me requires to mention that in Linux you can even update the kernel on the fly).
- Windows keeps trying to reinstall failed updates over and over (in certain cases every such cycle of "updating" can render you PC disabled for hours!).
- There's no way to cleanly upgrade your system (there will be thousands of leftovers), etc.
- Windows OS installer doesn't give a damn about other OSes installed on your PC and it always overwrites the MBR. In case of already existing Windows installations, it sets the newly installed Windows as the default OS - no questions asked. In case of UEFI booting of other non Windows OSes is unsupported and Windows actively prevents this.
- WinSxS, though a neat idea, turned into some madness: Windows keeps the versions of files the user won't ever need: for instance the English version of Windows will have copies of files for many other languages irrespective of the chosen locale or MUI.
- Cryptic error messages (considering the size of the OS, >9GB as of Windows 10, this practice is simply ridiculous).
- Most malware writers target Windows as the most popular desktop OS, so it has the biggest number of viruses among all other OSes (over five thousand new viruses daily).
- Windows loves thrashing your HDD.
- Microsoft programmers are still unable to cope with NTFS fragmentation 25 years after its introduction. To make things worse most Windows applications do not preallocate files thus they contribute to fragmentation even more.
- Windows anti-virus products oftentimes make your PC less safe - so if you want perfect security and privacy, stop using Windows and migrate to Linux right away. OEM updaters make your PC wide open for attacks.
- Microsoft has recently decided that you would no longer be able to download certain Windows updates manually. You'll only be able to get them via Windows Update.
- Microsoft has gone crazy: Windows 10 is now a recommended update for all Windows 7/8.1 users unless you're running their Enterprise versions. That means your computer will automatically update to Windows 10 unless you either disable the Windows Update service completely or set Windows updates to the manual mode.
- In May 2016 Microsoft started deceptively updating users' PCs to Windows 10 regardless of your Automatic Windows Updates settings or the way you interact with the GWX application.
Now the second kind of issues is intrinsic to Windows 10 only
- Windows 10 spies on you and even more so on your children aka phones home (welcome NSA/CIA/thoughtcrime/1984)! Microsoft added spying features to Windows 7/8.1as well (more general list).
Microsoft officially admits that automatic spying cannot be disabled in Windows 10.
The official Microsoft guide on Windows 10 telemetry settings contains this beautiful tidbit: "Ability to gather user content, such as documents, if they might have been the trigger for the issue". Now, Microsoft states that user files can be requested only on the "Full" level of telemetry, however you need to bear in mind that this feature is built-in, it's remotely triggered, and it can be used to get any of your data any time they want.
- Wow, just wow: Microsoft now openly publishes its collected data in regard to Windows 10 users:
- "Over 44.5 billion minutes spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in just the last month" - we spy on Edge users.
- "Over 82 billion photos viewed within the Windows 10 Photo app" - you're using our Gallery app, right? Great!
- "Gaming continues to grow on Windows 10 – in 2015, gamers spent over 4 billion hours playing PC games on Windows 10" - we now know what apps you're running and for how long.
- Starting October 2016 telemetry(spying) became impossible to disable in Windows 7 and 8.1 because Microsoft changed the way it distributes updates for these two operating systems.
- Microsoft's EULA grants Microsoft the rights to use any of your content related to the services like Bing, Cortana (a built-in file indexer and search in Windows 10), OneDrive or Skype: "you grant to Microsoft a worldwide and royalty-free intellectual property license to use Your Content". You can read Microsoft's response here which paints everything in a positive light however after Snowden's leaks it's hard if not impossible to take them seriously.
- Microsoft pushes Windows 10 so hard it actually started spreading FUD even about its own older OSes:
- Microsoft started lying through their teeth about Windows 7: "We do worry when people are running an operating system that's 10 years old that the next printer they buy isn't going to work well, or they buy a new game, they buy Fallout 4, a very popular game, and it doesn't work on a bunch of older machines. And so, as we are pushing our software vendors and hardware partners to build great new stuff that takes advantage of Windows 10 that obviously makes the old stuff really bad and not to mention viruses and security problems".
- Egregious lying continues: Microsoft falsely states that newer Intel and AMD CPUs will only be supported by Windows 10. If that were actually true you wouldn't be able to run MS-DOS on Intel Skylake yet you perfectly can (edit: later Microsoft reneged on not supporting Skylake CPUs). Perhaps they are talking about new advanced features of the said CPUs, but their wording means the opposite: like you cannot physically run any older Windows releases on these new CPUs.
- Microsoft desperately wants to install Windows 10 on pretty much all computers running Windows 7/8/8.1, even though some older hardware is not compatible with Windows 10 due to missing drivers. In certain cases drivers for Windows 10 are buggy and incomplete, which means after upgrading you end up with a broken PC you cannot use or its features don't work like they should.
- Microsoft has lost its mind and they now aggressively try to foist/force Windows 10 on unsuspecting users. Oh, it's now official: they will forcefully install it everywhere they can in 2016.
- Windows 10 will forever be beta software (specially after they fired a large chunk of their QA/QC department and instead delegated testing to the insiders):
- A new model of development with no Windows 11 in sight.
- Two Control Panels (read below).
- Microsoft hides the information about Windows 10 updates, so oftentimes you won't even know what certain updates are aimed to fix or improve. Also Windows 10 updates may have unintended consequences and unannounced changes in behaviour (it's already been confirmed).
- Microsoft sometimes pushes half-baked updates which kill end-users' PCs or cause a lot of damage (this is a wonderful read). Make sure you also read an article about the clusterfuck called Anniversary Update - there are numerous reports that the installer kills all the partitions which Windows doesn't know about (Linux users beware).
- August 2016 anniversary update broke millions of web cameras.
- September 2016 security update broke print functionality for certain users.
- December 2016 update broke the DHCP service (read Internet connection) for many users.
- GWX application updates the PCs which are incompatible with Windows 10 because there are no drivers available for PC components or periphery devices like printers/scanners/etc.
- You've got no real control over crucial features of the OS:
- Windows 10 will have no service packs which means it will always be a work in progress and you are a perpetual beta tester.
- Forced updates you cannot opt out of (and Microsoft have borked quite a lot of them recently so prepare to see your Windows die after installing a new portion of updates - actually Microsoft has already borked one update, read horror stories about KB3081424). In December 2016 Chris Capossela, chief marketing officer at Microsoft, admitted that the company had went too far with the way Windows updates are distributed.
- Safe Mode has become impossible to access unless you've booted into ... the running OS which totally defeats its purpose. Also Safe Mode is hidden behind almost a dozen of steps vs. a single F8 key press on boot in every Windows version from 95 to 7.
- Windows 10 anniversary update makes it very difficult (read impossible for average users) to disable Cortana.
- Windows 10 violates the basic networking principles: it ignores the hosts files, the DNS protocol and firewall rules and sends telemetry data regardless.
- Microsoft says that there will be at least two service updates (or whatever their names are) for Windows every year, and each update is basically a new version of Windows, so:
- Twice per year you may reinstall software deemed not required by Microsoft.
- Some features you grew dependent on will be removed without providing any alternatives.
- Your preferences will be reset to default, so you'll need to go through them regularly.
- Some Metro applications will be reinstalled if you deleted them previously. New wonderful Metro applications will be installed.
- Expect your group policy settings and tweaks to be completely removed or changed and the only way to get them back is to upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise.
- Certain software titles and drivers will cease to work.
- Windows 10 features terrible UI inconsistency, not limited to:
- Two kinds of fonts antialiasing (ClearType v2 for classic applications and some awful dirty grayish something for Modern apps). Truth to be told it's not a problem with HiDPI monitors but few people own them.
- All kinds of varying visual decorations and styles (some people have discovered up to seven varying styles in Windows 10).
- Absolutely dissimilar classic and modern (PC settings) control panels.
- Different fonts faces and sizes all around.
- Different styles of settings for modern apps.
- Absolutely different context menus and their appearance in different applications and apps.
- Terrible hardly configurable appearance, dubious design choices and extremely limited functionality (vs Windows 7/XP):
- Two Control Panels with absolutely zero thought given to how they differ and why each one should be used.
- Some Control Widgets are spread between the two Control Panels which is utterly confusing (e.g. Users Management).
- No Windows classic UI for windows decorations. Windows decorations can hardly be configured at all in Windows 10.
- An awful choice of colors/palette.
- Absolutely awful, childish and amateurish icons (the current release features slightly better icons) as if we live in the era of 8bit displays (only rivalled by those in Windows 3.1 from 1992). Windows 2000 in 1999 looked better than Windows 10 in 2015.
- A big number of Windows 10 apps are still NOT on par with their classical counterparts from Windows 7/Vista/XP (many features are missing or many options are not configurable).
- The start menu is an unusable abomination. Sometimes classic Win32 applications are not listed anywhere. Applications are listed as a list which is nigh impossible to scroll.
- Windows 10 sucks terribly if you are an unlucky user of a metered Internet connection:
- It features huge mandatory system and apps updates (you cannot disable them, you can only postpone the system reboot after their installation). A note for smug commentators: certain home users/companies use a 3G uplink connection (for instance via a router which supports USB 3G modems), which means Windows 10 doesn't and cannot know how it's connected to the Internet.
- As if it wasn't enough, Windows 10 gets downloaded automatically if you run Windows 7 or 8.1. We are talking about 3-6 gigabytes of data some people absolutely do not need.
- It uses your free bandwidth to distribute updates to other users nearby you.
- Windows 10 Pro edition has become more or less unsuitable for small enterprises because Windows 10 anniversary update removes the ability to disable the following "features" (more like annoyances):
To disable these "features" you will have to purchase a subscription for Windows 10 Enterprise or Education editions.
- Microsoft Consumer Experience: personalized recommendations or, in simple terms, ads in the start menu.
- Windows Tips.
- The Lock Screen.
- Disable all apps from the Windows Store.
- Interesting (read awful) features for developers and power users:
- Visual Studio 2015 C++ compiler secretly inserts telemetry code into binaries.
- Windows 10 anniversary update blocks all drivers which are not signed by Microsoft. At the moment the ext2fsd driver and VirtualBox will cease to function.
- In Windows 10 certain not so old games and applications either do not work or have severe problems.
- Windows 10 shows full screen ads on your lock screen.
- A new shocker: Windows 10 installs apps behind your back without your approval. The first Windows anniversary update without asking first reinstalls Skype and auto logins you.
- Windows 10 resets your default applications to built-in Microsoft's ones after each major update.
- With Wi-Fi sense enabled anyone you have in your Skype, Outlook or Hotmail contacts lists — and any of your Facebook friends - can be granted automatic access to your Wi-Fi network as long as they're within range.
- A newly created user profile weighs over 300MB (!) while containing zero (!) information about the user.
- A newly created user profile is populated with all the default apps instead of giving the user a choice.
Some ways to fix/configure Windows 10
- Do not install it or upgrade to it if you're running Windows 7/8.1. If you did, read further.
- Install Classic Shell aka Windows 7 (XP) Start Menu for Windows 10.
- Uninstall/remove most built-in Metro/Modern apps in Windows 10 (quiet a lot of them are immutable and cannot be uninstalled no matter what):
- Fire up administrator's PowerShell (Start -> Search -> Power -> Right mouse click -> Run as Administrator).
- Run (copy and paste):
Get-AppXPackage -User | Remove-AppxPackage (remove the user's apps)
Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Remove-AppxPackage (remove all system wide apps)
- Disable Windows 10 most spying/tracking/call home features - for deep cleaning use more powerful (and equally dangerous) utilities.
- You can disable built-in torrent-like/bandwidth sharing feature by going to the Start Start button icon , then Settings > Update & security > Windows Update, and then select Advanced options.
- The other things mentioned above cannot be fixed unfortunately (UI inconsistency, two Control Panels, very little UI customizability, disabling of updates, etc.).
- Ultimate Windows 10 clean up: DWS (potentially unsafe, use at your own risk, it might totally wreck your Windows 10 installation):
- Removes all spyware modules, services, domains and apps. Stops telemetry.
- Removes Windows 10 Metro Apps.
- Disables Windows Update.
- Disables Windows Defender.
- Open Source.
Why was Windows 10 spyware? (stopped being so after July 29, 2016)
Because it has all the attributes of spyware:
- Downloads itself to your machine without you specifically asking for it? YES
- Aggressively attempts to install itself taking over your computer in the process? YES
- Sends unknown and/or encrypted data to known and unknown third parties? YES
- Sends personally identifying information to known and unknown third parties? YES
- Easy to remove? NO
In short, it looks like spyware, smells like spyware, walks like spyware and talks like spyware. Windows 10 is spyware.
As a bonus Windows 10 has features of a PUP: it shows ads in the start menu including full screen ads on the lock screen.
Busting Windows 10 myths
There seems to be a good number of myths which are spread on pro-Microsoft forums and websites and I want to take a bit of your time to debunk them.
Windows 10 is more secure than any previous version of Windows
Um, sorry, this is largely baloney. Windows 10 offers exactly zero new protection mechanisms to the end user vs. Windows 7/8.1. I haven't forgotten that Windows 8.1/10 apps run in a
sandbox environment and they are all verified by Microsoft, that's true, but most of them are made purely for content consumption (so they won't cut it for the power users), besides
people will still download executables from the Internet and run them relentlessly. Normally you should never run Windows without a decent antivirus installed (Microsoft Security
Essentials is not an AV your can rely on, in fact you're crazy if you believe it protects you). Head to av-comparatives and check out their
real world tests to see what's best for you. According to various AV comparisons MS Security Essentials misses over 10% of
the in-the-wild viruses (i.e. over five hundred new viruses every day).
The truth is there are some new security features but they are invisible for most users out there.
Windows 10 is a more modern OS
Hey, what does it mean it's more modern? How exactly do Windows 7 and 8.1 differ from
Windows 10? This is yet another largely unfounded claim from
the Microsoft fanboys. DirectX 12? There are still no games which are exclusive to this graphics API (as of July 2016). 99% of the games which are being published at the moment will be
DirectX 9/11 games, so your Windows 7/8.1 system will perfectly run them. Unfortunately some new games
will require Windows 10 but those are Microsoft sponsored titles created to push Windows 10. Edit: Quantum Break was released on Steam on 08.10.2016 and now it only requires
Windows 7/D3D11. There's a slight chance that Vulkan
will become more popular but so far that hasn't been the case. Vulkan is supported on all modern operating systems.
Windows 10 is faster
According to this, this and this
there's no discernible difference between Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. Windows 10 features an improved memory handling for certain multithreaded applications like WinRAR but most other
applications have the same performance.
"I have installed Windows 10 and it feels faster", right, like with every Windows release it feels fast when you install it from scratch. Then, strangely, it slows down significantly.
I have nothing to hide - let them track me!
Robin Doherty has a nice piece on this issue: "Why privacy is important, and having "nothing to hide" is irrelevant". Also you might want to read about the implications of real life surveillance.
Here's an insightful comment I cannot agree more with:
"Microsoft has given themselves the right to do remote administration and data gathering ... and for all but the ones which can select Security, they'll do it in such a way that they can personally identify you. Oh, and apparently they'll gather some of your documents as well. No fucking way we can trust them with this, because as soon as they have the ability to tell your computer to package up some data and send it to them, some asshole in law enforcement is going to demand they misuse it. And don't say they won't, because that's exactly the kind of shit law enforcement and the security agencies are doing. No way they won't show up with an NSL demanding information and forbidding Microsoft from admitting to it."
I've got Windows 10 preinstalled on my PC/laptop, I hate it, what should I do?
If you do value your freedom, privacy and ability to control your OS, not the other way around, you've get these options:
- Downgrade to Windows 8.1 or even better to Windows 7 which contains zero privacy invasion features. Make sure you have automatic updates set to "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them". Review and research every non-security update before installing it. Also you might want to disable telemetry bits and upgrade elements in Windows 7/8.1 - use with caution.
- If everything you do on your PC is web browsing, watching online videos and listening to online music, give Linux a try. You don't even have to install it to try it - it can be trivially run from your USB flash drive without touching your OS or personal data. Linux is slowly becoming a nice alternative to Windows.
- Migrate to MacOS which is the most expensive option but the most viable at the moment because Linux is not exactly perfect.
Free upgrade to Windows 10 after July 29, 2016
How to save money and upgrade to Windows 10 for free after the free upgrade offer expires? Activate any assistive technology in your Windows 7/8.1, for instance, click + U
and enable the onscreen keyboard and follow this link. I've just saved you up to $199.
Just before you call me anti-Microsoft, a Linux shill, zealot or fanatic, here's a wonderful list of Linux problems that I've been compiling over the past six years. The truth is I don't plead allegiance to any OS on the market. So, sorry, Windows 10 sucks no less than Linux sucks, it just sucks differently. So far, Microsoft has had two great modern OSes: Windows XP and Windows 7 (in the past they had rock solid Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000).
I have no attitude towards MacOS X, because I've never had a chance to use it, however from what I've seen on screenshots this OS has the worst fonts antialiasing among any existing OSes - I actually refuse to try it because I don't want to hurt my eyes.
I'm not a journalist and I've never been one.
P.S. If you want to reinforce your love towards Microsoft and Windows 10 go to neowin.net - this website has thousands of raving idiots who dribble and moan with excitement from everything made by Microsoft.
Some guy from game-debate dot com rewrote this article in an easy-to-understand way.
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