Trust Me!

Windows 10 is out now, and first impressions seem to be mostly good. For one thing, it doesn’t need any more system resources than Windows 7 does, which is mildly amazing. Most times in the past, a Windows upgrade also required a hardware upgrade, which, combined with the cost of the new version, made upgrading your operating system unattractive unless the computer was very high-end to start with. All that has changed with Windows 10, since it’s also a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1.

A less attractive change in Windows 10 is the continued desire to use more and more of your personal data for various purposes, many of which I do not agree with. Worse yet, all these “features” are turned on by default in Windows 10.

Windows is watching you...

Windows is watching you… And Cortana is listening…

From Cortana’s (Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri) terms of service:

Types of data collected include… device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device. Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more. (Oh, That’s nice and vague!)

Welcome to The Matrix…

What you’re doing here is trading some of your private information for “personal assistant” services, such as calendar reminders, traffic updates, and the like. If that sounds like a fair trade to you, go ahead and use it. Personally, I’m not a big fan of a faceless database somewhere knowing what kind of music I listen to, who I’m emailing, who I’m calling, etc. Some of my best friends don’t know that much about me! Plus, lets face it, a whole lot of this stuff is about marketing. The more that database knows about me, the more they can target me with ads that they think will interest me.

I don’t have a problem with advertising per se, but a lot of this stuff I just find creepy in the extreme. I want to keep my private stuff private. Fortunately, most of these features can be turned off in Windows 10.

Another interesting new thing in Windows 10 is “wi-fi sense.” This “feature” allows automatic sharing of your wi-fi connection with people in your address book and your Facebook friends. Again, it depends on whether you’re willing to give up some privacy in the name of convenience.

The main question is, how will all of this data be used, and how can we be sure it won’t be mis-used? We have to trust whoever’s collecting that data to not misuse it. I don’t trust Microsoft, Google, or any other “Big Data” company quite that far.

A lot of the difficulties discussed can be avoided or mitigated by not signing in to your computer with a Microsoft Account. You might get the impression that it’s necessary, but if you look closely during Windows installation, it’s not. I prefer to keep all my credentials local, thank you. The downside of this, of course, is if you find yourself locked out of your computer, you don’t have your Microsoft password as a fallback, so you’ll have to take other precautions if that’s a possibility.

All modern versions of Windows have a “create password reset disk” feature. To use this, you need a USB flash drive plugged in to the machine. On Windows 8 or 10, access the old control panel by holding the Widows logo key on your keyboard and pressing the “X” key. Select “control panel” from the resulting menu, then select “user accounts.” You’ll see “create password reset disk” on the left side of the window. Just remember to keep the resulting disk in a very safe place, because anyone can use it to reset your Windows password.

How to change Windows 10 privacy settings:

More about Wi-Fi sense:

For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!

Click here to read all about it.

Follow me on Twitter:

I’d love to hear your comments!