The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has given a scotching review of Microsoft’s outrageous antics with pushing Windows 10, saying “the company’s strategy for user adoption has trampled on essential aspects of modern computing: user choice and privacy.”
According to EFF, the tactics Microsoft employed to get users of earlier versions of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10 went from annoying to downright malicious.
Microsoft installed an app in users’ system trays advertising the free upgrade to Windows 10. The app couldn’t be easily hidden or removed, but some enterprising users figured out a way. Then, the company kept changing the app and bundling it into various security patches, creating what EFF called “a cat-and-mouse game” to uninstall it.
The company eventually made Windows 10 a recommended update so users receiving critical security updates were now also downloading an entirely new operating system onto their machines without their knowledge, said EFF.
Microsoft even rolled in the Windows 10 ad as part of an Internet Explorer security patch, which is not the standard when it comes to security updates.
Perhaps, one of the more deceptive actions by Microsoft with pushing Windows 10 on users was changing the expected behavior of a dialogue window. When prompted with a Windows 10 update, users who hit the red X button in the upper right hand, widely understood to mean decline, still led to a misleading interpretation by Microsoft as consent to download Windows 10.
Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft, particularly if users opt in to “personalize” the software using the OS assistant called Cortana. Some of the data includes: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.
And while users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so, said EFF.
“We at EFF have heard from many users who have asked us to take action, and we urge Microsoft to listen to these concerns and incorporate this feedback into the next release of its operating system. Otherwise, Microsoft may find that it has inadvertently discovered just how far it can push its users before they abandon a once-trusted company for a better, more privacy-protective solution,” said EFF.
France recently ordered Microsoft to respect French privacy laws and stop tracking users.