Monday, August 24th, 2015 at 8:05am

Free Windows 10 Upgrade – Worth it?

Posted by Jordan Erickson

Windows 10 privacy

 

My customers have been asking me lately when a good time will be to upgrade to Windows 10.

Since it’s a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 customers until July 2016, there seems to be a sense of slight urgency to prepare offices and at-home users for the upgrade that will inevitably become a necessity.

It has been the running Microsoft trend to gently force users to upgrade over a period of time through eventual hardware/driver availability scenarios, software compatibility requirements, and last but not least security update discontinuation from prior versions of the OS. This is nothing new – it’s been happening since Windows ’95.

With Windows 10, defining the operating system as more of a ‘service’ than a purchased product, the perception of what is yours and what is Microsoft’s has been dramatically altered – and I can’t say I am completely satisfied with the new paradigm.

There are many articles out there that discuss the new privacy statement for Windows 10 and how things have changed. For instance, it is now the default (unless you specifically configure it otherwise) for your computer to transmit data to Microsoft servers with a wealth of information – not only your computer’s current update status and other technical information to help people keep it maintained and up to date, but apparently now transmit your personal data including private e-mail and contents of your files as they deem necessary (for purposes of law and intellectual property enforcement, of course).

 


This is an actual excerpt from the Microsoft Windows 10 Privacy Statement:

“Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.”


 

This is a broad and sweeping term that essentially tells you, ‘You have no real privacy’.

Not only does this example rub me the wrong way, but other non-privacy (but still questionable) configuration defaults do as well – such as the fact that unless you specifically disable it, Microsoft will use your computer and Internet bandwidth as a peer-to-peer Windows update node for other systems. This setting serves to save Microsoft bandwidth – as if they don’t have enough already, they are piggybacking on their own customers to help them save money. Imagine the thought of helping a business competitor down the street update their computers with computing resources and bandwidth you pay for – not exactly something most people would agree to.

Personally (and quite frankly), at this point in time and specifically with this version of their privacy statement, I cannot with good conscience recommend my customers to even upgrade to Windows 10 for free. From a technical and business operations standpoint, I have recommended (as many technical consultants do) to wait for Service Pack 1 (SP1) to come out. This will allow early adopters to run into and report some of the more obvious bugs in the OS (and hopefully get them fixed). Service packs are collections of patches which include stability, security and performance fixes. But unless they release a service pack for their Privacy Policy, one that respects their customers’ privacy a bit more, I’d hold out – at least for now.

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