Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Has A Serious Problem

There’s the thing about Windows 10; you give up control. Control over updates and control over privacy, but Microsoft has finally admitted the latter is a serious problem and is taking action…

In a blog post Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group, said the words millions have been waiting to hear:

“Many of you have asked for more control over your data, a greater understanding of how data is collected, and the benefits this brings for a more personalized experience. Based on your feedback, we are launching two new experiences to help ensure you are in control of your privacy.”

microsoft-10-privacy-settings

Arguably even more important, however, are two changes being made to the Windows 10 Creators Update when it is released in the next few months (and yes, it’s still a stupid name – ‘Windows 10.2’ would be fine!).

1. Overhauled Privacy Settings On Install/Update
Say goodbye to the rubbish ‘Express Settings’ screen on first install, with the Windows 10 Creators Update you’ll get clear but simply worded explanations and toggle switches. Users upgrading to the Creators Update will also be prompted to use after updating.

2. Simplified Diagnostic Data
More detail is needed here before judging the benefits but three collections levels are being cut down to just two: ‘Basic’ and ‘Full’. Basic will have only “data that is vital to the operation of Windows” which Microsoft defines are central to “keep Windows and apps secure, up-to-date, and running properly”.

Again you’ll be prompted to review your choice after installing the Creators Update.

microsoft-10-privacy-settings-2

New Windows 10 ‘Basic’ privacy settings deliver more user control
Image credit: Microsoft

Why So Long? And New Questions On The Horizon

It is said the first step towards admitting you have a problem is admitting you have a problem. But Microsoft has skipped this by both (finally) admitting its problem and coming up with some solutions in a single step. That’s commendable, though we’d prefer to have had an admission much earlier and a “We’re working on it!” message.

On top of this, the Creators Update looks set to raise as many questions as it answers due to something it will add called ‘Dynamic Lock’. This uses your PC’s web camera to monitor when you are sat in front of it so it can be automatically locked when you step away. Users will be able to disable Dynamic Lock, which solves my concerns, but it is likely to start a whole new wave of conspiracy theories.

Furthermore, Microsoft must still address the issue of control over Windows 10 updates. The Creators Update introduces the option to delay the installation of non-security updates for up to 35 days, but only Windows 10 Professional, Education and Enterprise versions qualify.

This means Microsoft recognizes users’ need for control but the company continues to treat mainstream Windows 10 Home users as guinea pigs for the stability of new updates before they are provided to big business. That needs to stop and users of all versions deserve the right to have control over their PCs, should they want it.

Despite all this, it is clear Microsoft is making significant steps in the right direction with Windows 10. It just shouldn’t have taken so many obviously wrong ones in the first place.

YOUR TURN

For the latest in IT News for your home or Union Office Like Union Built PC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.  And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

 

What Does a Trump Presidency Mean for Tech?

The eight-year bromance between Barack Obama — who appointed the first chief technology officer for the US — and the tech industry is ending. Now what?

That’s the question the tech industry has been asking since a real-estate mogul turned reality star, with a spotty reputation with tech, was voted in as 45th president of the United States.

President Obama, a self-proclaimed geek and Trekkie, was the most tech-focused president in modern history, committing billions of dollars to support initiatives to spur tech innovation, improve education and encourage exploration and discovery. Unlike Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump said very little during the campaign about where he stands on most tech-related issues — though he did call for a boycott of Apple products over the company’s stance on privacy in its fight with the FBI

president-elect-donald-trump

One thing is clear. Silicon Valley in general isn’t excited about the next four years. In July, 150 tech leaders, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Vint Cerf, considered the “father of the Internet,” wrote an open letter calling a Trump presidency “a disaster for innovation.” Some in the industry, notably broadband service providers, criticized him for policies they believe would stifle investment in infrastructure.

The outlook is “beyond grim,” weighted down by fear that the industry and world would suffer from this election, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Ouch.

Since Trump, 70, didn’t say all that much about tech during the campaign (he did call out “the cyber” when talking about cybersecurity concerns during one debate), industry watchers are left reading whatever tea leaves they can find until the president-elect reveals more-definitive policies.

Given that the tech industry accounts for 12 percent of all jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and given Trump’s message about improving America’s economy and competitiveness, his technology policies will have a long-lasting impact.

“The onus is on him to convince us that what we have seen in the past, the erratic behavior that has been defining character of the campaign, is not what will lead policy and that we’ll see a more pragmatic approach,” said Evan Swarztrauber, communications director for the DC-based think tank TechFreedom.

Here’s what little we do know about Trump’s stand on some important tech issues.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality became a relatively big deal in the 2008 election, but little was said during this election cycle about last year’s policy.

Net neutrality is the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. This means your broadband provider, which controls your access to the internet, can’t block or slow down the services or applications you use over the web.

That said, we do know Trump isn’t a fan of the FCC’s current regulations. In 2014, at the height of the debate to rewrite the rules around Net neutrality, he tweeted, “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.”

It’s possible that an FCC led by Republicans could eliminate all or part of the rules and strip the FCC of some of its authority. If that happens, broadband providers could create so-called fast lanes and charge internet companies, like Netflix, different rates to deliver their services.

Loosening regulations around telecom will likely benefit broadband and wireless carriers. The NCTA, the Internet and Television Association, which lobbies for the cable industry, said it’s eager to work with President-elect Trump.

“We look forward to participating in a constructive and robust discussion about policies that will continue to make America a global technology and entertainment leader,” they said in a statement Wednesday.

Industry Consolidation and Broadband

Trump also seems to have taken a populist view against mergers and acquisitions. That could spell trouble for big pending mergers, including AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of entertainment giant Time Warner. When that deal was announced last month, Trump vowed to block the merger if he was elected.

“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said.

AT&T’s executives still like their chances of getting the deal approved by the US, pointing to statements Trump made in his victory speech about investing in “infrastructure.”

“His policies and his discussions about infrastructure investment, economic development and American innovation all fit right in with AT&T’s goals,” Chief Financial Officer John J. Stephens said Wednesday. “We’ve been the leading investor in this country for more than five years running, and our Time Warner transaction is all about innovation and economic development, consumer choice, and investment in infrastructure with regard to providing a great 5G mobile broadband experience.”

Encryption and Cybersecurity

The president-elect has made only vague statements about privacy and security, and downplayed Russia’s alleged hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign email servers. Still, when the Justice Department tussled with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of the terrorist suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, he called for a boycott of Apple products.

What he has said about cyber security is that there should be a review of US cyber defenses by a “Cyber Review Team.” He also told the The New York Times in July that “certainly cyber has to be in our thought process, very strongly in our thought process… Inconceivable the power of cyber… you can make countries nonfunctioning with a strong use of cyber.”

RELATED: The Union Built Cloud Secure Data Storage Solution

Tax Policy

The biggest boost to the tech industry could come from Trump’s plans to lower corporate tax rates to encourage companies to invest their money in the US.

There’s a good chance that money could be invested in the US, said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). But it’s not a given. In 2004, the US allowed American companies to bring in the profit they’d earned overseas in the hope they would hire more workers. Most of the money went to executives and shareholders, instead.

Trump has also called for high import taxes on products, which could drive up prices for consumers on tech goods. In January, Trump said in a stump speech, “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.”

Apple, which declined to comment on Trump’s statements at the time, designs its products at its Silicon Valley headquarters, but uses a Chinese contractor to build them. If Apple products were manufactured in the US, the price of an iPhone could rise to as much as $900 to offset worker wages versus the $650 cost of an iPhone today.

YOUR TURN

How do you think Trump will affect YOUR industry? Sound off in Comments, on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Union Strong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
.

Additional Reporting by CNET