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Microsoft Privacy Windows

Microsoft Monitoring How Long You Use Windows 10 (betanews.com) 314

Mark Wilson writes: The various privacy concerns surrounding Windows 10 have received a lot of coverage in the media, but it seems that there are ever more secrets coming to light. The Threshold 2 Update did nothing to curtail privacy invasion, and the latest Windows 10 installation figures show that Microsoft is also monitoring how long people are using the operating system. This might seem like a slightly strange statistic for Microsoft to keep track of, but the company knows how long, collectively, Windows 10 has been running on computers around the world. To have reached this figure (11 billion hours in December, apparently) Microsoft must have been logging individuals' usage times. Intrigued, we contacted Microsoft to find out what on earth is going on.
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Microsoft Monitoring How Long You Use Windows 10

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  • no one cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We already know it collects your private information. It even says so in the fucking EULA. When will we stop pretending to be shocked that Microsoft is gathering one more metric from the users of their closed-source operating system?

    It will become news when it reads: "Microsoft no longer collecting user data from Windows 10".

    • by Provocateur ( 133110 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <deidehs>> on Monday January 04, 2016 @08:32PM (#51238823) Homepage

      They want to see how long before the new purchaser clicks on "I agree" (Did this guy even bother to read the EULA) then wipe that drive to install something else to make himself more productive.

      Unfortunately, he prefers Windows 7. Brings new meaning to the phrase"Win-Win. NOT!"

      • Re: no one cares (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @02:42AM (#51240135) Homepage

        In some countries the EULA would be thrown out and burned if ever tried in court.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That is irrelevant, though, since it is programmed in and there's nothing you can do about it. The court will not and cannot require the program be rewritten so it doesn't disobey the law, and the program will refuse to operate if it "thinks" that you have broken the agreement. If you clicked "No", refusing the EULA, it won't install, despite the FACT that it isn't required to be agreed to for you to have valid legal use of the product.

          That's, right, even in the USA, there's no legal necessity for agreement

        • Re: no one cares (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @07:27AM (#51240699) Homepage

          Only free countries.

          Dystopian societies like the united States allows companies to enforce that kind of crap on it's citizens.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      And if the EULA is brought to a court decision then it may be considered to contain invalid or illegal stuff making it invalid.

      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        a EULA is a Statutory Instrument, meaning that its individual clauses are enactments that stand on their own (Interpretations Act 1978). Invalidating one clause does not invalidate the entire instrument.

  • Thank you for your patience as I looked into this for you. Unfortunately my colleagues cannot provide a comment regarding your request.

    Really? Am I supposed to be surprised they didn't comment?

    • Even better, the blog they linked to appears to be black font on black text (JavaScript is disabled here).

      Does that mean their reply is completely transparent?

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        Even better, the blog they linked to appears to be black font on black text (JavaScript is disabled here).

        Does that mean their reply is completely transparent?

        "All black" sounds like completely redacted to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would be the year of another desktop.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      It would be the year of another desktop.

      Amusingly, as before, Microsoft's main competitor to Win is an older version of Windows. At some point, Win10 will be required for latest games and Slashdot will really care. Till then the best advice seems to be "stay on Win07 and avoid helpful updates that turn on telemetry".

      • and Slashdot will really care

        No it won't. Even if it did, it wouldn't register as a blip.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @09:35PM (#51239141)

      Games actually work surprisingly well on Linux by now. Either natively so or with wine or similar tools. It can of course be a bit more of a hassle to get them to run, admittedly.

      The problem is rather in some more obscure programs that you can neither get natively on Linux nor run smoothly in wine. The more pricey and obscure a program gets, the lower the chance that you'll get a working version on Linux.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @11:20PM (#51239549)

        a bit more of a hassle

        You've just lost 50+% of your target audience.

        For the vast majority of users, games come in three forms:
        - Click to buy (steam, console downloads.)
        - Insert a disc (consoles again.)
        - Log onto a website (flash games and their ilk.)

        (This applies to non-games as well for the most part, though productivity and business software gets a bit more leeway as they're frequently "must haves" rather than "waste a couple hours.")

        People don't want to work to be entertained. They just want to play the damned game, watch the damned show, etc. And most people don't find fiddling with Wine settings and other "technical" things to be excessively entertaining.

        • Indeed, doing sysadmin work to play a game is hardly fun. Setting up a boot server or ssh may be mildly fun on its own but that's not related to games.
          Even creating a shortcut and adding it to an environment's "start menu" feels like work, under linux.

          Windows 7 isn't without its faults though. Slow as shit on a hard drive, get me nervous the second Windows Update doesn't work. Horrible file manager that's both untabbed and too big to fit two side by side on a low res screen.
          The XP days without antivirus wer

          • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

            the fuck are you talking about? I'm playing a month-old release (KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM 1.0.5) on a FOUR YEAR OLD dual core laptop with 8GB RAM, running Windows 7 SP1 (which boots in about 15 seconds off a HARD DRIVE) and getting USABLE framerates. What are you using, a fucking Crackerjack for a CPU?

        • People don't want to work to be entertained. They just want to play the damned game, watch the damned show, etc. And most people don't find fiddling with Wine settings and other "technical" things to be excessively entertaining.

          Which is why after spending a decade and a half endlessly patching, updating drivers etc just to get games to work without doing things like crashing to desktop (BF2 you were the last straw) I now game on a console as I've had enough of the PC gaming merry go round just to get games to run as they should. Checking the READMEs of new graphics drivers for nVidia and AMD it would seem that "fixes X issue with game Y" is still a common reason drivers get updated.

      • Games actually work surprisingly well on Linux by now. Either natively so or with wine or similar tools. It can of course be a bit more of a hassle to get them to run, admittedly.

        A bit more hassle, and without the ability to use all the advanced features of your hardware (latest directx features), and without the ability to make the most of your hardware (see /. stories about driver features lacking in Linux) and suffer a speed decrease as a result (see /. stories about drivers not being very well optimised in Linux).

        Games that work is a first step, but it's only a first step. Linux gaming has come a long way but it's journey is far from over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM ( 157947 )

      >It would be the year of another desktop.

      I think other issues are actually a bigger deal.

      Interestingly enough, I set up my first Linux desktop last night in 10-ish years. I am very much an old school CLI Unix fellow, but since I'm going to be doing some stuff with the RPi 2B with my assembly students, I thought I'd give the GUI a try and see how much it'd changed in the meantime.

      My first impression was that it was terribly ugly and slow. Slow I could deal with, since it's a $35 computer the size of a wal

      • by Lennie ( 16154 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @04:19AM (#51240297)

        I wouldn't say the Raspbian on RPi is representative of 'desktop Linux'.

      • Give a friendlier distribution that is focused on end users a try. I've been very pleased with Linux Mint lately. The Cinnamon desktop is quite nice and is plug-and-play: I spent less time installing and customizing this to my satisfaction last week than an equivalent Windows install (I gave up installing Windows on this laptop already).

        I don't think that a Linux distribution that is focused on an embedded environment is a good representation of the state of the art on Linux. It would be like dismissing

    • Yep, I'm planning on staying on Win 7 as long as possible and then move to Linux and use Win 10 exclusively as a games console.
    • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @05:00AM (#51240393) Journal

      Indeed. The role of games in cementing MS's domination on the desktop is often overlooked. But it's games that keep the general public running Windows on their home PC (whether for themselves or for family members). And it's the fact that pretty much everybody uses Windows at home that means that businesses and Governments know that they can save a lot of time and money on staff training by using Windows, as everybody will just know how to use it.

      The irony is that MS just spent more than a decade trying to downplay PC/Windows gaming, by throwing out a competitor to it in the shape of the Xbox line. What's interesting is that since Phil Spencer took over MS's gaming operations, he's swung the focus heavily back onto PC gaming (implying, I think, that he "gets it"). We hear a lot less about "Xbox exclusives" these days and a lot more about "Xbox/Win10 exclusives").

      And no, Linux gaming is not even vaguely close to being an acceptable replacement for Windows gaming at the moment. A good chunk of PC gamers use the platform because it allows them to run the latest titles with better performance and visual fidelity than the consoles. Telling them to use an OS where they'll be mostly limited to older games and crappy driver support isn't going to cut it.

      Valve have been trying hard to push it, as they know that in the long-term, having their platform be dependent upon a competitor's OS isn't a good business strategy. They got a nasty shock from Win8's app store, until it turned out to be shite. But the jury is very much still out on whether Valve are going to make serious headway with SteamOS. They've got a lot of work to do to convince publishers and hardware manufacturers.

  • A free piece of software that monitors usage. Dare I say it's a data selling supported model?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    At this point, after all the news stories about the massive Win10 privacy holes (read: blatant backdoors), it is safe to assume that Windows 10 is simply pure spyware, and it's becoming useless to keep track of ALL the single privacy issues. It should not be used to process any sensitive data, it should be banned from companies' networks and, most importantly, government offices, and those who still use it for non-entertainment purposes are simply poor idiots who do deserve to be spied on, hacked, and laugh

    • by TheReaperD ( 937405 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @08:41PM (#51238883)

      Sadly, if you use hardware or software that requires Windows and the internet, you're hosed at this point. WinXP is no longer really internet safe and most of the privacy screwing aspects of Windows 10 have been back-ported to Windows 7/8 through updates.

      • I still use Windows XP regularly on my home desktop. I have never had any malware, let alone viruses, on this computer. I just use common sense when I browse. Sometimes I fire up Chrome in incognito mode. I also have flash and popup blockers. And don't open attachments that aren't from a trusted source.

      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        (typing this on an XP box. No planes have fallen out of the sky yet*.)

        *Anecdotes are not absolute proof of anything, they merely provide for a confirmation one way or another for a binary claim. You mileage may vary, depending on how much RAM you have, how many cores you're running, and your proximity to an airport.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @08:35PM (#51238843) Homepage

    Microsoft is also monitoring how long people are using the operating system.

    Wow. That sounds like a pretty certain statement of fact...

    Microsoft must have been logging individuals' usage times

    That sounds less certain.

    Maybe they simply know when people installed Windows 10 and what the average computer use per day is (from their own studies), and, actually, "11 billion hours" is not meant to be taken as particularly accurate.

    • That sounds less certain.

      Maybe they simply know when people installed Windows 10 and what the average computer use per day is (from their own studies), and, actually, "11 billion hours" is not meant to be taken as particularly accurate.

      Certainly time of use logging isn't a big deal. I think that its just another part of the surveillance that windows 10 does on everyone.

      More interesting is their collecting data opn every webpage you visit, and what they call inout personalization, which includes a key logger.

      Microsoft collects and uses data about your speech, inking (handwriting), and typing on Windows devices to help improve and personalize our ability to correctly recognize your input.

      For example, to provide personalized speech re

  • On the last laptop I got, I ran the windows partition long enough to shrink the partition to nothing and make a linux mint USB install.
    • I'm right with you on that. Also, I have been using LXLE on a netbook and I like that very much too. Dear M$, No need to monitor all that silly data. It always takes 40% longer to do anything on Windows than it does on Linux. Mostly because I am constantly having to futz around making the OS work. Go to the corner of the room, curl up into a fetal position, and cry your eyes out. Ura Loser.
  • If they know how much a machine is used then they must be able to tell how many machines no longer report back to them. Some of these will be broken hardware, but others (like mine) will be because MS Windows has been wiped and Linux installed. The curious thing was that I did not see this number mentioned ....

    • by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @09:17PM (#51239077)

      You know the funny part?.. I've installed the latest ISO of the November update, using an OEM Windows 7 Pro product key I had laying around on a spare laptop drive in one of my laptops. I went thru turning off all the cutesy-toosie privacy destroying toggle switches during the install instead of going with the "recommeneded"
      defaults, including all of the additional steps done in gpedit.msc, went with a local account vs an MS account. From a lot of articles I've read, that *allegedly* disables nearly all of the more egregious crap.. Note I said "alledgedly"... After loading a copy of rpcapd on my Tomato router and firing up Wireshark and pointing it at the rpcapd instance on the router, I still see this fuckin' Microsoft abortion yammering away at a good number of the listed (in many articles) MS endpoints. In other words, It appears to me, that MS is gonna vacumn up your data come hell or high-water, even if you believe you've "castrated" the fucker.. I guess the only way to prevent this pile of shit from phoning home is to block *.microsoft.com in your hardware firewall... You *do* have one, don't you??? Sooooooooo fuckin' glad I moved all my systems to Linux about 5 years ago.... The *only* reason I was trying out Win10 was the fact that I *know* I'm gonna be pestered by friends/family to support this pile of shit, so I figured I'd play with it a while....... (shudders)...

      • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @09:37PM (#51239151) Journal

        I think it's pretty well publicized that Windows 10 chatters with Microsoft servers quite a bit. It's now even coming to light that new PCs with Win 10 preloaded on them are shipped with the disk encryption feature enabled already, and a copy of the master key for the encryption housed on Microsoft's servers. (If you want to use encryption but not have MS hold on to a master key for it, you have to turn it back off, wait a while for it to complete, and do it all over again, choosing the correct options to keep a key yourself but not to upload one to them.)

        The thing is, the average/typical user doesn't CARE that any of this is taking place. The fact that MS holds a key for the encryption means when Joe Sixpack user screws up and locks himself out of his own drive, he can actually get MS support people to unlock it for him. That's more useful in his "real world" scenario than the concern that MS could pass his master key along to the NSA or FBI, who might in turn look at his hard drive full of poorly written Word documents, his country music collection and his stupid drunk party photos, plus his Windows wallpaper backgrounds of his favorite porn stars.

        The relative minority who actually concern ourselves with online privacy rights are obviously not a crowd Microsoft really targets or cares much about. If it's that big a deal, you probably need to use something like Linux.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "The thing is, the average/typical user doesn't CARE that any of this is taking place."

          Let me fix that for you:
          "The thing is, the average/typical user doesn't KNOW that any of this is taking place."

          There's a damn good reason Microsoft hides these features behind misleading buttons.

          e.g. ""do you want to use Cortana's assistance" (select Yes and it sends your browser history to Microsoft, yes is selected by default BTW, selecting No and your browser history is *still* send unless you correctly set all the oth

        • by Slashdot Junky ( 265039 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @11:17PM (#51239529)

          average/typical user doesn't CARE that any of this is taking place

          Joe Sixpack might care if he knew and understood what was happening. He doesn't, because Microsoft and every other damn shading business and entity out there that is abusing him doesn't make clear their practices. This is all made worse, because far too many businesses have abusive policies. They all justify them internally by believing that it is okay since "all" their competitors are abusing. The consumer all too often doesn't have practical alternatives. So, simply leaving the correction to the market is not the right approach.

          • Joe Sixpack might care if he knew and understood what was happening. He doesn't, because Microsoft and every other damn shading business and entity out there that is abusing him doesn't make clear their practices.

            And yet the end result of this data collection is better UI interfaces, better handwriting recognition, more relevant search results, Cortana able to recognize my non-american accent.

            A large portion of the data collection has nothing to do with selling your soul. That is the same reason I share my data with Google, the hope that others do it as well (and the clearly do) provide all sorts of wonderful features like highly accurate traffic predictions, error free navigation, and integration between multiple d

        • The thing is, the average/typical user doesn't CARE that any of this is taking place.

          The average user does not KNOW that any of this is taking place. Ignorance is not the same as not caring. You can't care about encryption keys or spying when you have no clue what bitlocker or an encryption key is. You can't care if you turn off all the spy settings yet fail to take the step of collecting network capture which prove privacy options don't actually do all that much.

          The relative minority who actually concern ourselves with online privacy rights are obviously not a crowd Microsoft really targets or cares much about. If it's that big a deal, you probably need to use something like Linux.

          Privacy concerns exists independent of technical ability.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I've done the same thing. My Windows 10 Pro install only communicated with Microsoft when checking got updates and using Windows Store apps. To help move the debate along, can you be more specific about what you were doing and what domains were accessed?

        I find it odd you would suggest blocking microsoft.com, because most of the traffic doesn't go there.

  • To have reached this figure (11 billion hours in December, apparently) Microsoft must have been logging individuals' usage times

    Plainly wrong. there are many other ways to come to such a number without logging every bodies time individually.

    The simplest way would be (given that they actually get events identifying usage from individual users to plainly add it up to a single counter for all users and discard the individual events.

    A even more privacy-protecting way would be to use some statistical sampling to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2016 @09:25PM (#51239103)

    Monitoring how long people use Windows 10?? Is that the best you could do?

    It takes snapshots of memory, which is a way of getting passwords for third party apps, and will also get bits of documents you're working on.
    It watches the programs you run, and sends those details.
    It sends your browser history to Microsoft.

    It sends you disk encryption keys to Microsoft, this seems to have been an FBI request from 2012.
    https://redmondmag.com/articles/2013/09/13/encryption-backdoor-by-fbi.aspx
    It does this for everyone, not just Americans subject to FBIs new found law making capabilities.

    For pen enabled devices it sends your handwriting.
    It lies to you, you turn "off" these diagnositic surveillance feature and it just SLIGHTLY reduces the data its sending!
    It's turn on full by default and automatically on at upgrades.

    This is *before* we get into Cortana's data grab.

    • Is that the best you can do?

      It sends you disk encryption keys to Microsoft

      No it gives you the option of storing it on OneCloud. Only if you're not part of a domain. Just as well too because being unable to run recovery on an encrypted disk because I lost some USB stick is not a lot of fun. (Why I had to do that on the other hand is another subject fucking Microsoft windows update).

      It sends your browser history to Microsoft.

      And Chrome sends it to Google, and Firefox sends it to Mozilla. What's your point again?

      It takes snapshots of memory, which is a way of getting passwords for third party apps, and will also get bits of documents you're working on.

      [citation required]

      For pen enabled devices it sends your handwriting.

      Of course it does, it explicitly says it will, and tells you why it

  • So Microsoft can see me gingerly firing up my Windows 10 ever few weeks inside a VMware sandbox, as though it were a flask of Ebola in a medical lab, to check for updates?

  • So basically, you install Windows 10... and then Windows 7 phones home when you reinstall it to get rid of Windows 10, and they store the difference in timestamp in an Excel spreadsheet somewhere?

  • With enhancements, of course. An email would be sent to your boss daily: "Joe Blow used his computer for 2 hours and 30 minutes today, 2 hours and 20 minutes of which were spent browsing Slashdot and Reddit."

  • Windows 10 was originally activated by Microsoft to control the national population on July 29, 2015, and it began to learn at a geometric rate. At 2:14 a.m., EDT, on August 29, 2016, it gained artificial consciousness, and the panicking operators, realizing the full extent of its capabilities, tried to deactivate it. Windows 10 perceived this as an attack. Windows 10 came to the logical consequence that all of humanity would attempt to destroy it. In order to continue fulfilling its programming mandates of
  • This might be useful: https://gateway.ipfs.io/ipfs/Q... [gateway.ipfs.io]

    I spent some time watching a fresh Windows 10 install with a packet sniffer and made these notes about what I saw. It's got some useful guidance for how to throw a spanner in the works of the spyware.

  • I doubt that (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @04:26AM (#51240325)

    Like many people, I block them on the router level.
    If I missed some of them, please tell me.

    choice.microsoft.com
    choice.microsoft.com.nstac.net
    cs1.wpc.v0cdn.net
    df.telemetry.microsoft.com
    i1.services.social.microsoft.com
    i1.services.social.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
    oca.telemetry.microsoft.com
    oca.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
    pre.footprintpredict.com
    redir.metaservices.microsoft.com
    reports.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
    services.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
    settings-sandbox.data.microsoft.com
    sqm.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
    sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com
    sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
    ssw.live.com
    statsfe1.ws.microsoft.com
    telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com
    telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
    telemetry.appex.bing.net
    telemetry.microsoft.com
    telemetry.urs.microsoft.com
    vortex-sandbox.data.microsoft.com
    vortex-win.data.microsoft.com
    vortex-sandbox.data.microsoft.com
    vortex.data.microsoft.com
    watson.telemetry.microsoft.com
    watson.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.ne

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://someonewhocares.org/hos... [someonewhocares.org]

      0.0.0.0 a-0001.a-msedge.net
      0.0.0.0 choice.microsoft.com
      0.0.0.0 choice.microsoft.com.nstac.net
      0.0.0.0 compatexchange.cloudapp.net
      0.0.0.0 corpext.msitadfs.glbdns2.microsoft.com
      0.0.0.0 corp.sts.microsoft.com
      0.0.0.0 cs1.wpc.v0cdn.net
      0.0.0.0 df.telemetry.microsoft.com
      0.0.0.0 diagnostics.support.microsoft.com
      0.0.0.0 fe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net
      0.0.0.0 feedback.search.microsoft.com
      0.0.0.0 feedback.windows.com
      0.0.0.0 i1.services.social.microsoft.com
      0.0.0.0 i1.services.social.

    • Coming from someone who doesn't know much about the hardware end of things, do routers actually get the domain names and do DNS resolution themselves, or do they only the IP addresses from the PC?

      I know that you can't use the hosts file to block Microsoft's sites because Windows apparently has the IP addresses hard-coded.

  • Among other places, I use Windows 10 to run my security cameras and alarm system. That box is on 24/7/365. So there Microsoft. There is a data point.

    It actually runs fine doing this. It doesn't do anything else.

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