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Windows 10 reality check: Separating fact from fiction

Woody Leonhard | June 9, 2015
Licensing, upgrade paths, ‘Windows as a Service’ -- here’s the lowdown on common Win10 misconceptions.

Fiction: Windows 10 is the last version of Windows

Yeah, sure. It's a marketing thing. We may have Windows someday, but as in "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," the numbers don't matter and the points don't count.

Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 Home users will be held to Microsoft's patching schedule. To draw an analogy to Win7 and Win8.1, it's as if all Windows 10 Home users will have Automatic Updates turned on permanently.

Windows 10 Pro is a different story. Microsoft says that Pro users "will have the ability to defer updates." It isn't yet clear how the feature will be implemented -- it isn't in any beta versions as yet. It's also unclear how long you'll be able to go without installing the updates.

Microsoft's record on rolling out new features isn't horrible. But its record on rolling out security patches is a blight on the company and its reputation.

Fact: Microsoft has a lousy track record with incremental improvements to its products

Microsoft promises it's going to improve Windows 10 at a rapid clip. It's a noble goal, but one that's not been met in the past. When Windows 8 rolled out, we were assured that key Metro apps -- Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Maps, and all the others -- would be improved over time. If that ever happened, I sure didn't see it. With Windows 7 Ultimate we were promised extravagant extras to go along with the higher price tag, delivered someday. We didn't get squat. Don't get me started on Windows 8.1, Update 1, which wouldn't install; sorta-Update 2, which fizzled; and never-appeared-Update 3. Can we trust Microsoft to keep improving Windows 10? Maybe, if there's money in it, which leads me to ...

Fact: Windows 10 has all sorts of hidden "monetizing opportunities"

I'm writing a thick book on Windows 10, and it continues to amaze me how frequently I bump into these new "features" that can -- and probably will -- be used for advertising. Front and center: Cortana. If you let it, Cortana (and its henchman Bing) not only collects every scrap of information about you -- we're talking Googlian proportions -- but it also analyzes, slices, and dices the data to discern every possible nuance.

If you want Cortana to warn you that the traffic's bad on your chosen route to catch the flight you booked with Bing, confirmed with mail, hey, it's a cool capability. But all of that convenience comes at an enormous cost to your personal privacy. Cortana, by default, also intercepts all of your local searches, on your own PC, and sends the results to Bing's big data bucket.


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