Windows 10 Updates and Privacy

I have a few updates for you on Windows 10,  from new revelations are coming out in the media, as well as my testing experiences.  Overall, no regrets on my part.  The Windows 10 experience is pretty positive for me and I still maintain that if you have Windows 8 or 8.1 you should get moved on to 10 without delay.  Windows 7 users might consider waiting until they’ve confirmed any software or hardware they use will be supported, but if you do make the mistake of upgrading your Windows 7 too soon, it is easy to go back.  

Let’s get on with the updates.

Cutting Edge or Blunted Edge?

First, I have found out that the new web browser, Edge, is enough different from Internet Explorer that you miss a lot of features that ONLY work in Internet Explorer.  At first the list doesn’t appear to be much of a big deal, but these technologies are used by many business-oriented sites.

Good news though, Internet Explorer still comes with your Windows 10 computer so you can always fall back to it when need be.

Start is better…

Well it’s nice to have my old start button back, and some of the familiar menu items, but I just can’t customize the area on the left.  I WANT TO PUT STUFF THERE! I’m pretty visual and if I see the small icon I want to use I can very quickly click it, instead of scrolling through these relatively giant icons on the right to find the program I want.

I can go to All Apps, but every single app is listed here (a few are behind folders but even still this can be a massive list, even if you don’t have many programs installed), so scrolling around to find the one I want is a pain.  

I can make the start menu taller, so let me add my own shortcuts on the left.  Let me use the magic of dynamic icons on the right (like the news or sports ones that show content teases right in the icon) but have quick program access on the left.

So here's a tip to get some programs to stick under the heading "Most Used". 

The apps you use start to appear in this list not long after you get going with Windows 10.  You can't add items to the list, but you can remove them.  When you remove them, you make room for one you might want on the list.

You can right click the items you see under Most Used and select "Don't show in this list".  

BEFORE you get started though, make sure the app isn't listed in the large icons on the right.  If they are there, they'll never appear under "Most Used".  Also make sure you've run the program at least once. Maybe run it a few times to make sure it can qualify!

For example, if you already use Excel 2013 frequently, and want it to appear under "Most Used"; first look in the list of large icons on the right.  If it appears in that list, right click it and choose "Unpin from Start". It may immediately appear under "Most Used", or you might have to remove some of ones under the list before it shows.  You can only have 6 items under most used (for now, I hope).  

Sneaky, sneaky updates!

So by default, Windows 10 gets all updates whether you want them or not.  Not only that but it reboots your computer when it feels you aren’t needing it, without bothering to check for open files.  

That’s no good.  No good at all.

Worse yet, by DEFAULT, your computer is set up to receive updates from not JUST Microsoft.  You could also receive updates from other Windows 10 computers in your house, or even other Windows 10 computers on the INTERNET.  

Oh, did I mention that YOUR COMPUTER also becomes a place for others ON THE INTERNET to download updates from?

Way not good.  So not good at all; especially if you are watching your bandwidth.  The fix is pretty easy though.  

So here’s what you need to do.  First, click your start button and type Windows Update.  Select the option: “Windows Update settings”.

You’ll see the following screen which you want to find “Advanced options”.

Now you get a list of the first fixes.  First off hit point one – Change to “Notify to schedule restart”.  No more surprise reboots.

Next, if you want to really restrict your version, check the “Defer upgrades” box.  Major upgrades are a way down the road I think so you might leave this unchecked to get the minor ones with fixes in the meantime.

This one is a biggie.  Click that text: “Choose how updates are delivered”.  

Now if you have a bunch of computers on your network, you might consider leaving this on and changing the option to just “PCs on my local network”.  That is a bandwidth saver right there.  

However if you have the only one, or there’s only a couple, I wouldn’t bother.  Just turn this feature off. 

The Illusion of Privacy

There’s been a bit of chatter about a lack of privacy in Windows 10.  Most of this is predicated on the simply-viewed privacy options required for Cortana (the “digital assistant”).  They are pretty un-private settings.  You have to give Microsoft access to your contact list, your calendar entries, your handwritten documents and a number of other data points that would certainly make most people cringe.

To be fair, Google and Apple have been doing this data collection for a while, for the same reasons.  Microsoft is just one of the first to actually give you a chance to turn it off.  All of them anonymize your data, but let’s be honest – how anonymous is the names in your Contact list?  

The other concern that’s been identified by researchers is that despite turning off features like Sky Drive and Cortana, these applications are still sending data back to Microsoft.  Since you aren’t using them, it’s doing nothing more than a “Hey I’m here, but I have nothing for you” message.  

Still, why in the world does Microsoft need to keep the messages going back and forth?  

It’s not a concern that makes me want to uninstall Windows 10, but you can be sure that I’ll be watching this story and if there’s a chance to further restrict what Microsoft is collecting from my computer, I’ll be the first to hop on and then share how you can do it, dear readers.

Wade Stewart is the Managing Member of Stewart and Son Computer Services, LLC in University Place, WA and serves as a trusted partner to many local small and medium sized businesses. 

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Content Copyright Wade Stewart (C) 2015

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