Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Windows 10, After Two Months

I bought a new laptop PC two months ago. It came with Windows 8, but was sold as compatible with the soon-to-arrive Windows 10 operating system. After about a week of use, Microsoft invited me to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, and I jumped at the chance. So I've been running Windows 10 on my laptop PC for a couple of months now, almost from the day I bought it. Mostly, I like Windows 10. It is chock full of really nice features, and (so far) appears to be a worthy successor to Windows 7.

I do have a few objections to it, which I will enumerate here.

1. Upselling

One thing I don't like about it is I feel like it's constantly upselling, trying to get me to download or buy more and more software. It's built-in advertising. Ironically, the upselling efforts backfire with me, as I usually end up uninstalling or at least deactivating the software that is doing the upselling.

2. Bloatware in the install

Another thing I don't like about it is that the Windows 10 upgrade came with its own load of bloatware or crapware. I'm still finding all sorts of apps and programs that I really don't want, and it takes me a few minutes every time I find one, to uninstall it. I've noticed, to my annoyance, that some of them can't be uninstalled.

If you leave the bloatware on your PC, it eats up disk space, which isn't a big deal, but it also eats up memory and CPU time, and those two things matter. In addition, the bloatware may be doing things in the background that you really don't want your computer to be doing. That takes us to the next point.

3. "We're watching you ..."

A third thing that I don't like is that Windows 10, and many (if not all) of the apps that come with it, are set by default to snoop on everything you do on your computer, and phone home to report it to a cloud server somewhere. Microsoft and its minions intend to perform "data mining" on this information, or sell it to third parties who will do their own "data mining", all this so that they can "enhance your online experience." That means that they want to sell you stuff, and they're going to bombard you with slyly targeted come-ons, designed to separate you from your money. And your privacy. You need to go into the Settings menus and manually disable all of this invasion-of-privacy stuff.

4. Forced upgrades

Finally, one thing that I find irritating to the point of profanity is Microsoft's insistence on automatically downloading and installing updates to the OS and the drivers, whenever they feel like it. I don't mind Windows 10 telling me that an update is available, but I absolutely hate the way it takes over my computer when it decides it's time for the update. I wrote a couple of posts about this problem and its solutions, here and here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hey! Microsoft! Stop being so RUDE!

Keeping your Windows PC updated is a safe and prudent thing to do; it's true. I'm sure that Microsoft thought they were being helpful when they forced automatic updates upon us in Windows 10. But they didn't stop to consider that the implementation was PUSHY and RUDE. Windows 10 (and, by extension, Microsoft) presumes to know what's best for me and my computer at any given moment. It doesn't consider that I may be doing a time-critical task, like:

  • Giving a presentation to a client.
  • Skyping with someone halfway around the world.
  • Suffering through an IRS audit.

It just takes over my computer without any warning or permission.

In my previous post, I wrote about how Microsoft's Windows 10 is set up to automatically download and install any upgrades that Microsoft decides are important for you to have.

When this happens, your computer doesn't alert you or warn you. It just goes ahead and does it. The download takes top priority over anything else The program that you're running slows down, and it may even look like it's freezing. You can't open a File Explorer window to look at your hard disk. If you try to open the Task Manager to see what has happened to your PC, it takes forever to open, and then it informs you that something is consuming 100% of your CPU, all of your available RAM, 100% of your network bandwidth, and probably even 100% of your hard disk bandwidth.

(Yes, your hard disk has limited bandwidth. You can't read from and write to it at infinite speeds.)

Because it's stealing all of your network's bandwidth, other devices on your network will also be affected - especially things like other people's computers, tablets and network-connected cellphones.

You can change settings in the Control Panel to disable automatic installation of the updates. That's described in my previous post. But there is not a Control Panel setting to disable automatic downloading of the updates. You may not think this is a problem, but if you're on a busy network and one of these top-priority updates comes down the pipe from the Mother Ship, it freezes your whole computer and many of the other devices on the same network. It is both crippling and irritating for you, and it's also irritating to everyone else who is affected by your computer's download.

Many people have complained about this problem, but MS hasn't seen fit to fix it yet. (Their attitude is "Just get used to doing things our way." Not acceptable.) The Web reveals an easy hack that anyone can do to regain control over Windows 10 automatic downloads. The trick is to  designate your network connections as "metered connections". This article in HowToGeek tells you how to do it. If that article doesn't help you, this one in LifeHacker might work better.

Windows 10 may be inexcusably rude, but it's smart enough not to mess with people's cellphones. People would get very upset if their cellphone charges suddenly skyrocketed due to Windows 10 automatically downloading huge updates through their tethered cellphones.

Therefore, Microsoft allows you to designate a network connection as a "metered connection". Windows 10 won't download updates through a metered connection without asking for permission first. (It's not a matter of Windows being POLITE. It's more like Windows is being PRUDENT. Or TIMID. We could use more of that timidity elsewhere in the operating system.)