Amid Windows 10 controversy, Microsoft quietly releases privacy botching features to Windows 7 and 8
It's been roughly a month since the release of Windows 10, Microsoft's newest desktop operating system. It packs in several enticing features including the digital assistant Cortana. But despite all the interesting offerings, Windows 10 isn't sitting well with many. Privacy advocates have criticized Microsoft for introducing several features that are seemingly concerning to those who care about their privacy. To make things worse, the company has now rolled out some of these annoying features to Windows 7 and Windows 8.
First spotted by Ghacks, some of the recent updates that Microsoft rolled out to Windows 8 and Windows 7 set a computer to regularly send reports of a machine's activities to Microsoft. The update dubbed 3068708, for instance, introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service on the computers it is installed on. "By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights", Microsoft describes the purpose of the update.
Microsoft has teamed up with Laplink to try to encourage people to upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, offering a free copy of PCmover Express to anyone who wants it. Many people took the launch of Windows 10 as an excuse to buy a new computer with it pre-installed -- but then there is the problem of accessing the files stored on the old PC.
While it is possible to manually move files to your new computer, it's not something that everyone is comfortable with. Microsoft's solution to provide people with a data transfer tool for free is one that's likely to attract some attention, so here’s what you need to do to take advantage of this time-limited offer.
The last lot of desktop OS figures released by NetMarketShare showed that Windows 10 had doubled its usage shared in a matter of days, but it wasn’t exactly an exciting number. Upon release the new OS managed to go from 0.16 percent to 0.39 percent.
But now that Windows 10 has had a month to settle in, we can finally see exactly how well it’s doing. Microsoft has said that there have been over 75 million installs, but what does that equate to in terms of usage share? NetMarketShare’s figures for August always promised to be exciting, and they definitely don’t disappoint now that they’re here.
There have been various numbers thrown around suggesting how many people have downloaded Windows 10 and how many have the operating system installed. Great debates have started about just how accurate these figures may be, but as any statistician will tell you, the more data you have to work with, the more likely it is to give an accurate picture.
Microsoft announced that there were 14 million downloads in the first 24 hours after launch, and it has been estimated that this figure now stands at anything from 50 million to 67 million. UK-based data analysis firm GoSquared has put together a tool that shows, in real time, Windows 10 adoption around the world by indicating its share of Windows traffic.
As Windows 10 is free, it's hard not to be tempted into upgrading. But just because the operating system is free, it does not mean it is necessarily right for you. You may have tried Windows 10 for a few weeks and come to the conclusion that you hate it. Perhaps you yearn to move back to the comfort of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
If you've decided that you simply do not like Windows 10, you can downgrade with ease. Of course, this is not possible if you have performed a clean installation of Windows 10, but it's an option that's available to you if you upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. So, are you ready to ditch Windows 10? Here's what you need to do.
If you upgrade your computer from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10, you probably have no idea what your product key is for the latest version of the operating system. The time may come when you want to perform a clean installation of Windows 10, and this is when you'll need that key.
It is not possible to use your product key for your old version of Windows to activate Windows 10, but during the initial upgrade process this key is converted into a new one. Using a special tool, you can find out the key that has been generated for you so you can make a note of it for future reference.
Parents who are upgrading their computers to Windows 10 are warned that the move from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will obliterate the safety features used to protect children. You may have spent time putting restrictions in place in a bid to keep your offspring safe when using your computer, but Windows 10 will change these child-friendly accounts into standard accounts with no limitations whatsoever.
The upgrade process wipes out website restrictions, game and app age ratings, time limits, and other parental controls and monitoring options. Unless a parent goes to the trouble of reinstating each of these settings individually, their children will have unfettered computer access. The discovery, revealed by The Register, will come as a surprise to many, but the worry is that many parents will simply be unaware that their children are not protected. And this is far from being the first time Windows 10 has been criticized.
Windows 10 is now with us, and, whether you've made the move from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, there is a lot to love, but also a lot to hate. With this latest release, there is also one very big difference from previous versions of Windows: it is free of charge.
This is not only likely to encourage more people into making the move to Windows 10, but it also opens up a possibility that many people would simply not have considered before. If you decide that you don’t like Windows 10 (the OS is not without its fair share of problems, after all), you can downgrade to your previous version without ending up out of pocket. The question is, how many people will go -- or have gone -- down this route?
NetMarketShare has released its monthly desktop operating system usage share figures, showing the fluctuations of the various iterations of Windows. All versions of Microsoft’s operating system registered drops in July, except of course Windows 10 which was launched at the tail end of the month.
Only being available for a few days meant the new OS was never going to shift the needle significantly, but there were enough upgraders (Microsoft says 14 million in the first 24 hours) to double the operating system’s share.
Microsoft has released an off-schedule patch for all currently supported versions of Windows. A serious vulnerability has been discovered in a font driver that could be exploited by a hacker to remotely execute code on a compromised machine.
The problem affects Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows RT, Windows RT 8.1, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2012. Windows 10 is not at risk. Microsoft describes the issue as 'critical' and has pushed an emergency patch to Windows Update.
Tests carried out by independent security labs AV-Test show that Microsoft is at the bottom of the league when it comes to enterprise security and virus protection. The tests pitted 11 security solutions against each other, and Microsoft's Endpoint Protection 2012 from the Microsoft Management Suite System Center 2012 was found to offer the weakest protection.
In both enterprise network security tests and virus detection tests, Microsoft trailed behind the competition in eleventh place. What's particularly concerning is that as the tool tested is bundled software, it's likely that it is precisely what many businesses are relying on for protection.
It's not long since Microsoft revealed the various editions of Windows 10 that will be available. We're now in the launch month and the preview builds are rolling out thick and fast to Windows Insiders. But when the big day rolls out, which version should you opt for?
If you're upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8, it's a fairly simple process that can be taken care of by Windows Update. For those who have decided to make the upgrade, Microsoft will automatically migrate you to the equivalent version of Windows 10. But if you're running the Home version of Windows, what are you missing out on? Is it worth thinking about going Pro? Microsoft has a handy guide to help you decide.
Windows 8.x enjoyed a good month in May. The tiled operating system finally overtook Windows XP for the first time in six months -- its gains coming mostly at the expense of Windows 7. But it was all change again in June according to the latest usage stats from web analytics firm NetMarketShare.
The latest figures show Windows 8.x losing share -- or business as usual you might say -- going from 16.63 percent to 16.02 percent. That’s a drop of 0.61 percentage points. Windows 8.1 actually gained 0.24 percentage points, but Windows 8 lost 0.85 percentage points. Still overall it remains comfortably ahead of XP now, so there's that consolation prize.
If you like the idea of trying out the next version of Windows before it is officially launched, Microsoft has made the Windows 10 Technical Preview available for everyone to use. There are various ways to get the preview installed on your computer, but since the release of build 9926, it is possible to upgrade your current Windows 7 or Windows 8 installation to Windows 10 using Windows Update.
This is a much simpler option than downloading the ISO image, but it is an upgrade route that almost encourages people to install the preview build on their everyday computer -- don’t forget that this is not a finished product! We've already looked at how to install Windows 10 in a virtual machine, but if you have a spare machine running Windows 7 or 8, using it as a test bed for Windows 10 just got a whole lot easier.
If you want to install Windows from scratch, you have two choices -- you can install the OS from a CD/DVD or from a USB flash drive. The latter is the better option, especially as optical drives are becoming something of a rarity these days.
The process of creating a bootable USB flash drive for Windows 7, 8.1 or 10, is quick and easy. Here’s how to do it.