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Windows 8 does a poor job of catering to knowledge workers like me who earn a living by synthesizing information from multiple data sources or use application programs that have hundreds of specialized features. Its real moneymakers in the corporate world are not operating systems for desktops but applications like Office and servers like Exchange. Fast, Connected, and Secure. The idea of a single operating system to be deployed on all computing platforms—from the slowest of cell phones to relatively high-performance laptops and desktops, and even supercomputers—has clear technical benefits for users.

Consider power efficiency: new algorithms and data structures inside the core of an operating system can let the kernel perform more functions while executing fewer instructions. Such changes extend the battery life when the OS is run on a cell phone. On a server in a data center, those same changes will lower electricity and cooling bills. Developers also benefit from having a single OS. For example, it means that the same tools can be used to develop applications for all platforms, so advances can be made immediately available across the entire product line.

A single OS with the same set of APIs also means that a programmer with experience working on, say, cell phones can be rapidly reassigned to work on a cloud-based application.

Apple and Google learned this lesson years ago. Apple runs nearly identical software stacks on its iPhone, iPad, laptop, and desktop systems: the main differences are inconsistencies caused by different input devices touch screen vs. With Windows 8, Microsoft joins its competition in having the same kernel, API, and developer tools on all its platforms.

The advantage is evident from the moment you turn on a Windows 8 machine. A consumer-grade Dell desktop that I tested took just 20 seconds to boot Windows 8; that same hardware took nearly a minute to start Windows 7.

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Those versions of Windows 8 all benefit from a newfound commitment to connectivity as well. The photos could then be downloaded automatically to my other Windows 8 machines. Office can also save files on SkyDrive; then you can edit them from any Internet-connected computer with the cloud-based version of Office. Microsoft is late with such file-sharing services—Apple, Dropbox, and Google all have similar offerings—but Microsoft has done a better job of integrating them directly into the operating system. The new cloud-based Windows services do a better job with account authentication, too.

Windows 8 lets you use the same Live. Underneath the user interface, Windows has introduced many important security improvements as well. Updates download every day, with no subscription necessary. Windows 8 also enforces stronger security policies on developers, requiring that all approved applications run in a restricted environment called the AppContainer—a kind of sandbox that limits the damage a rogue or exploited application can do. Four Windows and Many Apps. Microsoft plans to sell this core Windows 8 operating system in many different variations.

For desktops and laptops there are Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro the standard version disables full-disk encryption and remote access features. The big difference is inside: the Surface is built upon the low-power ARM microprocessor, the same processor as in most Android tablets and phones and similar to what Apple has in the iPhone and iPad. Phones such as the Nokia Lumia run Windows Phone 8. These phones are also built on an ARM processor and, like the other versions of Windows 8, have a heavy emphasis on touch.

Developers may thus create a single code base in order to develop apps that will run on Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, and Windows 8 desktop systems, much the way Apple developers can write a single app for an iPhone and iPad. Apps are the future of Windows. Although Windows 8 desktops allow users to install apps from any location, the phone and tablet versions will only accept apps from the Windows Store.

About That Modern Interface. Back in the s, the big advantage of Windows was something we now take for granted: multitasking. Windows could run multiple programs at the same time, each in its own overlapping window. Windows 8 still runs multiple programs at once, but the windows no longer overlap. Microsoft is planning to make Windows impose use of its browser, Edge, in certain circumstances.

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Windows displays intrusive ads for Microsoft products and its partners' products. We disagree. To do this, Microsoft used malware techniques. A detailed analysis of Microsoft's scheme is available on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's website. Those machines will be stuck with the nastier Windows Of course, Windows 7 and 8 are unethical too, because they are proprietary software.

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But this example of Microsoft's wielding its power demonstrates the power it holds. Free software developers also stop maintaining old versions of their programs, but this is not unfair to users because the users of free software have control over it. If it is important enough to you, you and other users can hire someone to support the old version on your future platforms.

The wrongs in this section are not precisely malware, since they do not involve making the program that runs in a way that hurts the user. But they are a lot like malware, since they are technical Microsoft actions that harm the users of specific Microsoft software. Microsoft repeatedly pushed faulty versions of this program to users' machines, causing numerous problems, some of which critical.

This exemplifies the arrogant and manipulative attitude that proprietary software developers have learned to adopt toward the people they are supposedly serving. Migrate to a free operating system if you can! If your employer makes you run Windows, tell the financial department how this wastes your time dealing with endless connections and premature hardware failures.

Microsoft has made Windows 7 and 8 cease to function on certain new computers, effectively forcing their owners to switch to Windows Microsoft has dropped support for Windows 7 and 8 on recent processors in a big hurry. It makes no difference what legitimate reasons Microsoft might have for not doing work to support them.

If it doesn't want to do this work, it should let users do the work. In its efforts to trick users of Windows 7 and 8 into installing all-spying Windows 10 against their will, Microsoft forced their computers to silently download… the whole of Windows 10! Apparently, this was done through a universal back door. Once Microsoft has tricked a user into accepting installation of Windows 10, they find that they are denied the option to cancel or even postpone the imposed date of installation.

This demonstrates what we've said for years: using proprietary software means letting someone have power over you, and you're going to get screwed sooner or later. FTDI's proprietary driver for its USB-to-serial chips has been designed to sabotage alternative compatible chips so that they no longer work.

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Microsoft cut off security fixes for Windows XP, except to some big users that pay exorbitantly. Microsoft is going to cut off support for some Internet Explorer versions in the same way. A person or company has the right to cease to work on a particular program; the wrong here is Microsoft does this after having made the users dependent on Microsoft, because they are not free to ask anyone else to work on the program for them. Microsoft informs the NSA of bugs in Windows before fixing them. Windows 10 telemetry program sends information to Microsoft about the user's computer and their use of the computer.

DRM-restricted files can be used to identify people browsing through Tor. The vulnerability exists only if you use Windows. By default, Windows 10 sends debugging information to Microsoft, including core dumps. Microsoft now distributes them to another company. In order to increase Windows 10's install base, Microsoft blatantly disregards user choice and privacy. Windows 10 comes with 13 screens of snooping options , all enabled by default, and turning them off would be daunting to most users.

It appears Windows 10 sends data to Microsoft about what applications are running.

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A downgrade to Windows 10 deleted surveillance-detection applications. Then another downgrade inserted a general spying program. Users noticed this and complained, so Microsoft renamed it to give users the impression it was gone. Windows 10 sends identifiable information to Microsoft , even if a user turns off its Bing search and Cortana features, and activates the privacy-protection settings.

Will it look at users' files for the Chinese government on demand? Windows 10 full disk encryption gives Microsoft a key.

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It's as if Microsoft has deliberately chosen to make Windows 10 maximally evil on every dimension; to make a grab for total power over anyone that doesn't drop Windows now. It only gets worse with time. Windows 10 requires users to give permission for total snooping , including their files, their commands, their text input, and their voice input. Skype contains spyware. Microsoft changed Skype specifically for spying.