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Privacy Windows Operating Systems Upgrades

Ask Slashdot: Can You Disable Windows 10's Privacy-Invading Features? 492

An anonymous reader writes: I really want to upgrade to Windows 10, but have begun seeing stories come out about the new Terms and how they affect your privacy. It looks like the default Windows 10 system puts copies of your data out on the "cloud", gives your passwords out, and targets advertising to you. The main reason I am looking to upgrade is that Bitlocker is not available on Windows 7 Pro, but is on Windows 10 Pro, and Microsoft no longer offers Anytime Upgrades to Windows 7 Ultimate. However, I don't want to give away my privacy for security. The other option is to wait until October to see what the Windows 10 Enterprise version offers, but it may not be available through retail. Are the privacy minded Slashdot readers not going with Windows 10?

For reference, I am referring to these articles.
(Not to mention claims that it steals your bandwidth.)
Have a question for Slashdot's readers? Take a look at other recent questions first to see if someone else has had a similar question. And if not, ask away! The more details and context you include, the more likely your question will be selected.
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Ask Slashdot: Can You Disable Windows 10's Privacy-Invading Features?

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  • RTFA? (Score:5, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:15PM (#50230765) Journal

    Did you even read the articles that you've linked to? They talk about privacy issues with default settings (that is, "Express" install). If you're a regular member of the Slashdot audience, you will certainly pick "Customize" during installation anyway, and you'll get individual switches for all these things combined on the very first screen that you'll see after that, from advertising ID to Cortana. Just disable it all, and you're good to go. For bonus points, use a local user account rather than Microsoft ID.

    • Re:RTFA? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:33PM (#50230869)

      Even those options that seem like they are off but can only *really* be turned off in the Enterprise version?

      • Such as?

        • Re:RTFA? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:55PM (#50230961)

          Settings -> Privacy, under the "Diagnostics and Usage Data" header: "Send your device data to Microsoft". Default is "Enhanced", there are also choices for "Basic" and "Full (Recommended)". See the definitions under the fourth bullet on http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/feedback-diagnostics-privacy-faq

          Don't see any way to disable it. Of course this may not really be a Windows 10-specific issue since they slipped a "Diagnostic Tracking Service" into previous versions (such as Win7) through Windows Update earlier this year.

      • If you are a "user" on a system using Enterprise, you surf at the will of your administrator. If you run Enterprise at home, YOU control all these things.

        • Of the tens of thousands of new machines being bought between now and school starting in late august/early september, what percentage do you think will come with Win 10? Of those, what percentage will run with Win 10 Enterprise? Hooked up to a domain with an admin that has set that policy in GP?

    • Re:RTFA? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2015 @06:48PM (#50231195)

      Ok, than I'm going to tell you some anecdote. Last Friday I was in the local computer shop to buy a new SSD to replace my broken HD. The technicians there were upgrading several computers to Windows 10 for customer of theirs, and they were complaining about the fact that they could not continue with the installation without a Microsoft ID, so they created one on behalf of their customers and wrote down the details. They also just installed the Windows computers with default settings. Now, the guys are professionals. These are the technicians that the innocent computer user goes to for all their computer problems and questions. They were the technicians of people who are computer savvy enough to know that you need to have an up to date anti-virus and up-to date Windows and know that there was a -free- new version of Windows. But these people are not computer savvy enough to know how to upgrade.

      The computer technicians knew kind of how to update to the latest Windows, and probably also know how to install new hardware, drivers and software. They probably are able to clean Windows installation that are infested with some kind of malware. But they are not the expert that know all IT inside out. The majority of the computer users and technicians are within this subset of computer users. They can do stuff with PC's, but have no idea what happens behind the scene.
       
      It doesn't matter how easy it is to avoid the privacy problems of Windows 10, the vast majority of computer users is victim of this new behavior. The new behavior is that it's optional to not be tracked... and that you need to be computer savvy and literate enough to know what to turn on or off. And literacy is becoming more and more a problem with the average person. Do you really think that the average person understands what is in those length license agreements. Do you even think they bother to read it?
       
      And what if you were such a computer technician yourself. Would you read the EULA and than conclude you don't want to agree with it and tell your boss that you want something else than Windows because of privacy issues? Good luck with that...

    • I plan to disable all of these through group policy before win10 goes on any of my machines. I don't want to miss any or fat finger my way past one. My question is is this possible with a w2k8r2 active directory? I obviously won't find the win10-specific group policies on my DC's. If i install RSAT in my win8 machine (once released), will that work? Anyone tried this yet? Thanks!
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      I'll have to call bullshit on this comment because standard M$ practice is to turn stuff back on during upgrades even after you have specifically turned them off. So, compulsory upgrades means any settings you make are not fixed and are only temporary and according to the M$ non-warranty, anyone they want to allow into your computer is allowed in at any time no matter what your settings are, NSA, cough, cough. Basically it seems windows 10 is the NSA spy dream come true, do not install. If you must, pay th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:16PM (#50230775)

    Something happened.

  • Yes (Score:4, Informative)

    by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:17PM (#50230783)

    1. You don't set up a live account. That shuts down most of it.
    2. Change the host file to redirect most of the bad domains to localhost.
    3. There are going to be endless registry hacks to turn things off or change the way they work.
    4. programs are going to be released that change things or replace features with something else that does the same thing but is open source etc.

    Basically yes.

    • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:33PM (#50230871)

      1. You don't set up a live account. That shuts down most of it. 2. Change the host file to redirect most of the bad domains to localhost. 3. There are going to be endless registry hacks to turn things off or change the way they work. 4. programs are going to be released that change things or replace features with something else that does the same thing but is open source etc.

      Basically yes.

      Insert at the top of your list, renumber if desired:
      0. When the installer gives you the opportunity to customize your setting do so, disable whatever you care too.

      • That assumes that what I need customized is offered in the customization options which I do not assume. As of Windows Vista/7, I had to start heavily modifying the OS to de-crapify it. I'm taking that as the new normal at this point.

        • That assumes that what I need customized is offered in the customization options which I do not assume. As of Windows Vista/7, I had to start heavily modifying the OS to de-crapify it. I'm taking that as the new normal at this point.

          Then your experience is as relevant as Vista/7. As far as 10 goes the list of issues mentioned by the summary are addressed by the built-in installer options, much if not all of them.

          Plus I said insert the built-in options at the top of the list, I didn't say discard the rest of the list. Dink around with host files and registry entries to your delight. But don't suggest others need to go there when installer options, and not entering an MS account as you note, will most likely address their concerns.

          • by vux984 ( 928602 )

            Yup so far, in windows 10. There are 2 folowup settings that I've felt the the need to after turning everything off in the customize privacy screen.

            1) Turn off messages about smart screen. (You can turn off smart screen during install, windows evidently thinks this is a security risk, so it's an alert in action center. So you effectively turn off smart screen, and then follow up by turning off messages about smart screen being off. Not a huge deal... since smart screen *is* a legitimate A/V feature. And som

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2015 @06:27PM (#50231105)

        Insert at the top of your list, renumber if desired: 0. When the installer gives you the opportunity to customize your setting do so, disable whatever you care too.

        -1: When even gpedit.msc (group policy editor)'s documented behavior for turning off the submission of potentially information-leaking reports to Microsoft is "0 (send no data): Equivalent to '1' (basic) on non-Enterprise systems", you cannot disable everything you want to.

        -2: When users suggest removing the files associated with Diagnostic/Tracking/Telemetry servies, note that...

        -3: ...on non-Enterprise systems, you cannot disable the forced updates. You can delay them on Pro, but not forever. So eventually, those files are going to find their way back on your system eventually...

        -4: ...if they don't get put back immediately because Windows Defender (which also cannot be disabled except temporarily, and then it automatically turns itself back on) could trivially be programmed to categorize user attempts to delete the offending services as "malware" and restore them by itself.

        If you consider error reporting noninvasive and automatic upgrade checks non-leaky and of acceptable risk to system stability, you can turn off the offensive stuff in Win10 Pro.

        If your requirement is to eliminate error reporting and an at-all-times active antivirus product, then no, it is not possible to turn off the privacy-invading features of Windows 10.

        FWIW I will not be upgrading. Even the most basic error reporting like "POWERPOINT.EXE crashed while editing GOOGLE-HOSTILE-TAKEOVER-MICROSOFT.PPT" is unacceptable in financial circles, and the HIPAA laws are even more draconian. Windows 10 is no longer a general purpose computing platform.

        • by l3v1 ( 787564 )
          "3: ...on non-Enterprise systems, you cannot disable the forced updates. You can delay them on Pro, but not forever. So eventually, those files are going to find their way back on your system eventually... "

          Not really true.

          In the Home version, if you set your WIFI connection to be metered in network settings (so they don't download when they want), then use the KB3073930 to hide updates you don't want (also good for stopping some drivers to update), then basically you can delay the updates.
  • Yes, easily (Score:2, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

    You can disable all this stuff easily.

    1. When installing you are asked if you want the default settings. Select custom settings and turn everything off. Things like Cortana that rely on having data about you won't work, of course.

    2. Open the Windows Update settings and go into the options. Disable downloading updates from other machines on the internet. You might want to leave the option to get updates from other machines on your LAN enabled though, to save bandwidth.

    If anyone is any doubt that you can disa

    • Re:Yes, easily (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2015 @09:17PM (#50231733)

      You can only disable them in Enterprise, not Pro or Home, and the workarounds needed for the non-corpHOrate versions are nontrivial.

      This is your actual guide (for now, until M$ patches their shit)

      https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/3f38ed/guide_how_to_disable_data_logging_in_w10

      With some comments here that are useful:
      https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/3f10k0/things_to_removedisable_in_windows_10/
      https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/31rxsv/disable_keylogger_windows_10/

      Frankly, this is such a cluster fuck that "Install Linux, Problem Solved" is kind of applicable. I get that it's not at all the answer everyone wants- they want the powers that you can get in the corporate version only, such as "not being spied on", "can disable telemetry", "don't push local files and file data to Microsoft", etc.- but these are the technical workarounds that work for now. Unless there's a serious push against M$, this shit is going to be permanent- for proof of that, look at how wild and ludicrous the stuff you agreed to in the EULA was, including every keystroke you press, every file you open, every program you run, who you call and for how long, where you are, and every other thing. You essentially legally agreed to a full fledged keylogger and backorifice installation, and even if you can turn it off, until that EULA is fixed, the problem is real.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:26PM (#50230841)

    Windows 10 is fast becoming the worst OS MS has produced, Adware built in, telemetry (new USA word for spyware) sucks in your private data to vortex.data.microsoft.net (not a typo) , its clear Microsoft didnt listen to a damm thing customers were saying and have gone from gatekeepers to poachers, advertising is a disease amongst USA tech companies with a shit business model

    things i dont want:
    Adverts
    Spyware
    TIFKAM (metro, aka MediaCenter with a new skin)
    activeX gadgets^^H "modern apps"
    Bing (shit search engine)
    Cortana (that spying bitch)
    any kind of "store"
    Xbox anything
    Forced WindowsUpdates

    things i do want:
    A proper start menu
    Anti-trust investigations
    Removal of all phone home code
    Removal of Metro
    Removal of the "app store"
    Ability to stop updates

    i certainly wont be recommending it to anyone, let alone pay them a penny for Solitaire, corporate certainly wont stand for this spying bullshit so small companies who dont buy into the licensing game are S.O.L

    Nadella needs to realise if he wants to know where we live, now we need to know where he lives, what porn does he like ?, what stock mergers have they coming up ?, what car he drives ?, dont make us tell everybody.

    • Windows 10 is still piles of dump away from Vista and Me. Realy far from "the worse windows ever".
    • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @07:10PM (#50231283) Journal

      About the only quibble I have with what you're saying is "stop updates". Instead I'd like it to be easier to customize updates. I don't want to miss patches. Once I've got a setup I like, I want it to stay the same except I want security issues patched. I want to be able to segregate security patches from "features". Also, I'm not sure why Windows 8.1 has this whole business of working on the update while it's in the shutdown process. That's really annoying if I'm shutting down to go away for a while, or because of storm activity. I want to shutdown NOW. Not in 10 minutes. Also, don't auto-shutdown or nag me. Just put a RED WARNING security patch update icon on the task bar or something. I know it's there. I'll do it when I'm done with other stuff.

      • That's really annoying if I'm shutting down to go away for a while

        That's what suspend is for.

        or because of storm activity

        That's what your computer's battery is for. Put it in suspend and disconnect the charger from the mains.

        Just put a RED WARNING security patch update icon on the task bar or something.

        I've seen people ignore six-month-old red warning icons.

    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday August 01, 2015 @07:46PM (#50231411) Homepage Journal

      things i do want:
      [...]
      Removal of all phone home code

      For that, you're probably going to have to switch to GNU/Linux. Phone home code was introduced in Windows XP.

      Removal of the "app store"

      Do package repositories on GNU/Linux distributions count as an "app store" to you?

    • by dk20 ( 914954 )

      Where is the "hosts" file guy when you need him?

      I'm sure he can post his 2 page response about how you can use the "hosts" file to block this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just to watch the pure freakout.

  • Have you considered using something other than BitLocker? https://alternativeto.net/software/windows-bitlocker/?license=opensource&platform=windows [alternativeto.net]

    And I'm gonna say it - why not use disk-encrypted Linux and put Windows in a VM for those one or two programs that are Windows-only? This way you have full control of your system, the whole disk is encrypted, and you can stick to Windows 7...

    • why not use disk-encrypted Linux and put Windows in a VM for those one or two programs that are Windows-only?

      Programs that require direct GPU access and as much of my system's RAM as possible are the top of my list of reasons for keeping a Windows partition around, personally. So, I've basically got one boot option to put my machine into gaming-console mode, and one to put it into everything-else mode. That set up will change when there's either a technical shift in what I can easily do on Linux or my interests change enough that I'm no longer interested in running that kind of program.

  • Privacy in danger (Score:5, Interesting)

    by golgotha007 ( 62687 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:38PM (#50230889)

    Why does it seem like manufacturers feel that they automatically have a right to your usage data after you buy their product?

    Car manufacturers are already making big plans on creating new revenue streams with all the usage data they are collecting on our vehicles. Now, MS is taking the same approach (at least Windows 10 is free). What's to stop other vendors from doing the same? How about that new electric razor you bought; do you really want all your usage information to be sent back to the manufacturer, when you shaved, how you shaved, where you shaved? As more and more products are shipped with internet capability, manufacturers feel that they have a right to collect usage information weather you like it or not.

    I'm not liking where this is going...

    • Now, MS is taking the same approach (at least Windows 10 is free).

      Try getting Windows 10 for free without an existing Windows 7/8 license. There's people out there using Windows XP, OS X and Linux.

      • People on Windows XP aren't likely to upgrade at this point without replacing the computer, most of those machines are too old now.

        People on OS X can afford to buy Windows, Macs sure cost enough.

        The few people on Linux aren't going to use Windows anyway, unless they have to for work or games.

        Windows is as free as it gets, depending on what happens in the next 12 months, it is possible MS will just make Windows free outright to everyone.

    • This is going toward homes with built-in faraday cages. Or you could, you know, just not give wi-fi access to those damn devices in the first place.

      • In densely populated areas, the logical endgame is for devices to create their own mesh networks, independent of any active networking you might provide to them. Then all it takes is any path from your device to the mothership for your data to leak.

        Homes with built-in Faraday cages and their own internal repeaters with firewalls for signals you actually want to let through is one possible technological response, but obviously worthless the moment someone creates a path outside the cage, for example by ever

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      For me the real problem is hidden EULAs. If I buy a car that is advertised as having certain features but then discover that I can't use them because I don't agree to the EULA, which was not presented before the sale, I'm returning it. Same with smart TVs and anything else with a licence agreement. If you advertise it has a feature, it better work without agreeing to being spied on or you had better make damn sure that the requirement is made clear up front.

    • Why does it seem like manufacturers feel that they automatically have a right to your usage data after you buy their product?

      So they can improve the product.

      • Or, more likely, so they can fucking monetize your usage like the greedy self entitled assholes they are.

        And I don't just mean Microsoft.

        • Or, more likely, so they can fucking monetize your usage like the greedy self entitled assholes they are.

          And I don't just mean Microsoft.

          It depends upon the corporation. With Windows they're going to track your usage data to improve the product. Microsoft would be over whelmed by uploading every computers key strokes every day. So each machine is configured to only upload on certain days. Plus every time it's uploaded, the user id, is given a different GUID. Microsoft couldn't track Windows usage data back to a single user if they wanted to. Let alone wrap it up into an advertisable unique user product. They can do this because there's a lar

    • Privacy in danger? That question assumes that we still have some privacy to BE in danger. We haven't had any data privacy for a decade already.

  • Running it on the machine I'm using to post. Our group got the enterprise iso's and cdkey on the 29th. I did a custom install and said no to all of the bullshit options. So far I'm not seeing any ads.

  • better solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2015 @05:55PM (#50230971)

    Instead of worrying about whether you managed to find every little thing you needed to find to avoid the OS harvesting all your data behind your back, why not just install Debian or Mint and use dm-crypt and/or ecryptfs in place of bitlocker?

    SO much simpler and more worry free, and you get to be free of that nagging feeling that you missed one of the privacy settings they buried under that "beware of the leopard" sign...

  • by qubezz ( 520511 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @06:02PM (#50231001)

    I have been going through and cataloging everything that Windows 10 does, and looking to end the communication with Microsoft component-by-component. It'll take removing packages with dism, setting group policies and making secure policies into the "default user", blocking employees being able to lock out admin simply because they want to log in to the store etc., turning off the update services, etc. It's a long road to lock down win10. You still can't keep the OS from doing anything it wants though, basically Microsoft has decided that they get to rootkit and keylog your box while background capturing your location and data files.

    The first thing that admins should be doing is looking at how MS has invaded windows 7 with it's GMX and telemetry updates for the older OSs. Besides the tray ad, a whole new package of privacy invading phone-home and send your data was included in the "critical updates". There are about eight different tasks added to windows 7 scheduled tasks that even admin can't remove, they have to be manually pruned from the registry.
    It takes a good amount of powershell, registry editing, and dism to script-remove this malware from windows 7, and if you were letting windows update since April, the damage is already done.

    • It takes a good amount of powershell, registry editing, and dism to script-remove this malware from windows 7, and if you were letting windows update since April, the damage is already done.

      You are the only or first person (not in the loop) I've encountered that knows this ie: KB3035583 (Install date April 4th). If you read my journal please forgive the CWX reference, it's GWX (cataracts have since been removed).

  • http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

    Mentions a HOSTS file editor, a reply to that will show you how you can block what bothers you.

    Microsoft is tricky to block, a lot of the times you end up blocking a certification site.

    http://www.nirsoft.net/ [nirsoft.net] has two programs I use HTTPNetworkSniffer and smartsniff (both require Wincap) as well as reading ToS's is how I determine what's needed to be blocked. https://www.robtex.com/ [robtex.com] is what I use to make sure I'm not blocking something I shouldn't.

    I've no reason to upgrade, Win7 is a fairly decent OS.

    8.1 (spare laptop) got a lot easier after learning the Win key takes one to a normal screen and putting a shutdown shortcut on the desktop: Shutdown.exe /s /f /t 10 -But it's just a container for music/movies and not connected to the Internet, no reason at all to screw with it.

  • by skepsis ( 715457 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @06:14PM (#50231053)

    In order to use Siri on the iPhone, or Google Home on Android, you have to give up the same information that Microsoft is now requesting with Windows 10.

    You can turn off most if not all of the settings, but you loose some of the functionality. It's up to each user to find the "right spot" in this balance.

  • End of an era.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dega704 ( 1454673 )
    We all knew that Microsoft has been wanting to switch Windows to a subscription model for a while now. The only question was how to do it without inciting a mass exodus. It looks like they have found the first step. Windows 10 users are now the product instead of the customer. I guess it should have been obvious where this was going...
    • Not again! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      I guess it should have been obvious where this was going...

      Yeah it should have been obvious where it was going.

      We wanted location aware search results, but don't want to send our location to 3rd parties.
      We fast accurate learning speech recognition that is context aware, but we don't want to share our speech.
      We easy access to share information but we don't want share buttons.
      We want handwriting recognition that understands we have polish friends we don't want to autocorrect their funny names, but we refuse to allow it access to the contact list.

      We want it all, we wa

  • by Espectr0 ( 577637 ) on Saturday August 01, 2015 @07:34PM (#50231359) Journal

    sure you can disable some privacy stuff using customize when installing, but windows update stills shares your bandwidth to upload updates with everyone else. you need to configure it in its advanced sharing to stop sharing updates.

    Although its "share on lan only" feature seems intriguing, a cheap ass WSUS replacement for companies

  • wipe windows-10 off your computer and install FreeBSD-10 instead
    • by iamacat ( 583406 )

      You have to say a lot more for your advice to be useful. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro and they send strings from your desktop search box to their server to show you ads.

  • Most people want cloud services for convenience. Or they expect software crashes to magically resolve over time, which involves sending analytics to the developer. There is of course nothing wrong with having a different opinion. Just accept that Windows is not written with you in mind.

    You may have better luck with MacOSX. Tim Cook made privacy/not sending things to cloud a big deal lately, partially because Apple cloud services are not very good and this spins their primitive nature as a feature. You still

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