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Comment Re:So how bad it is really? (Score 1) 243

The original Ars Technica article there actually found very little troubling behaviour once the privacy settings were turned on. But yes, we should question the odd remaining instances they did find, particularly the upload with unidentified content.

Comment Re:To be expected (Score 1) 243

Your bias is showing.

In many parts of the world, the majority of people don't need to use tax software or "do their taxes". For example, here in the UK many basic taxes are deducted at source and then reported and paid by the employer/merchant/bank, so many people never have to file a return at all. Those who do typically use an on-line system provided by the tax authority or work with a professional accountant who can then file on their behalf. None of these people needs to run the kind of tax software you mentioned on their own computer.

Also, your stereotypes about gamers are way out of date. For example, the ESA's 2014 report suggests that interest in entertainment software is roughly equal between the sexes.

Comment Re:How does it know (Score 1) 85

Why only Flash?

They've already gone further with Java, Silverlight, and anything else that relied on NPAPI. As of this update, these technologies will no longer work, even if they worked just fine a few months ago on some site or app you find useful and they still worked last week if you flicked a hidden option back on. Yay for mandatory updates, I guess.

Comment Re:Mainstream media reviews are baffling (Score 1) 243

It seems to me that Windows 10 moves some things forward if you have the right kinds of device to take advantage of it, but suffers from trying to treat widely differing kinds of device used for widely differing purposes as if they should all work the same way.

Incidentally, articles like this one by David Pogue are exactly the kind of thing I was mocking before, and I stand by that mockery. He summed up his own position quite neatly with this:

If you’re a PC veteran, then you’ll recognize Windows 10: It’s pretty much Windows 7, with Cortana, nicer typography, and a few new features.

Those new features seem to be at best hit-or-miss, though arguments for why he thinks they are good are rather few. He glosses over the privacy, security, stability and reliability concerns, despite these alone being reason enough for significant numbers of people not to upgrade. And he literally wrote that the best thing about it is that it's free. (So is sticking with the Windows 7 already running on my boxes, by the way.)

Comment Re:To be expected (Score 1) 243

The world is too big for personal anecdotes to be reliable in this context. None of us have a personal social circle that is a good representation of the general population in all things. That's why I was looking at industry-wide data: following the money is a neutral indicator.

Comment Re:So how bad it is really? (Score 1) 243

closed source == who knows what the heck it's doing?

Wireshark does, for a start.

The other question we should be asking in the context of Windows 10 is what it could do in the future, now that it has a mandatory update mechanism, given the various provisions as currently written in the EULA/privacy policy/etc.

Comment Re:Just bought my first Windows 10 box (Score 2, Informative) 243

Unless you're running Enterprise, it's not disabled and still spying on literally everything, including sending sound from the mic to Microsoft. I was going to list some links but I'm at work and don't have time. A little searching will show you the truth.

Perhaps you should do a little searching yourself. Perpetuating this sort of ill-informed FUD really isn't helping.

There are legitimate privacy concerns about Windows 10. There are also reasons for some of the behaviour, and settings that do turn some of the behaviour off. What we need to further this debate is facts, not hyperbole.

Comment Mainstream media reviews are baffling (Score 1) 243

I do find the positive reviews of Windows 10 in a lot of popular media slightly confusing. The pattern always seems much the same:

It's free. It's better than Windows 8. It has some new features, but you probably won't use them. (Little if any recognition of any privacy, security, reliability or stability concerns.) BEST OPERATION SYSTEM EVERZ 11/10 UPGRADE NOW LOOKS UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS!!!!11!eleven!

I can understand mainstream media not being particularly technically literate, but how does anyone qualified to write a professional review plug things like being free and not as bad as the immediate predecessor that most people never bought as solid reasons to upgrade immediately? How do they not do one Google search and at least acknowledge that there have been some serious problems in the first few weeks even if they then argue that they're teething troubles and they believe Microsoft will fix them?

I've been reassured that in the last week or two, I have at least also seen a few more balanced reviews acknowledging the problems and suggesting that it might be worth waiting to see how things go rather than installing right now. But even there, a disturbing number of professional IT reporters seem to be casually dismissing things like security or privacy risks that they don't seem to fully understand themselves or conflating important security updates with general patching and moving around of the software without questioning whether Microsoft's approach here is really in users' interests.

Comment So what *positive* things does Win10 offer? (Score 1) 243

10 is going to be big.

Why? Aside from the widely publicised problems, what actual positive things does 10 offer that previous versions didn't?

Cortana, like all the other personal assistant gadgets of recent years, seems very clever at first sight. However, I've seen little evidence so far suggesting that real users want this sort of tool or find these tools work well for them.

Edge seems to be unfinished and to have negligible adoption rates so far. This might change in time, but for now it seems to lack both the stability and reliability of IE and the flexibility and new features of Chrome or Firefox. It's not clear yet what, if anything, it will offer beyond these existing browsers to encourage users to switch.

DX12 is a gaming platform that so far has little support from either hardware or games. Again, this might change in time, but historically new versions of DX that were locked to new versions of Windows haven't been the driver for adoption that Microsoft might have hoped and in practice games have continued to support older versions of DirectX as well.

There are a few UI changes in Windows 10, but the positive comments about several of them seem closer to "this isn't as bad as Win 8" than "hey, this is actually useful". Other UI changes, such as splitting up configuration settings into lots of different places, are getting quite negative comments so far. So again, overall I don't see the UI being an advantage over other contemporary operating systems that might encourage people to switch.

So really, what is the killer feature of Windows 10 that would make a normal but well-informed user decide to install it on, say, an existing Windows 7 machine?

Comment Re:To be expected (Score 1) 243

For businesses, sure. For private individuals, gaming is one of the main blockers for migration to other systems today, and it seems reasonable to assume that this one affects many, many more people than tax software. After all, which of (a) the PC gaming industry and (b) the PC personal taxation software industry makes so much money that even Hollywood is jealous?

Comment It's not just healthcare, either (Score 2) 122

You make a good point, but it applies beyond healthcare too.

May I introduce you to the auto industry? They'd like to sell you a new car that is always on-line, accepts OTA updates, and runs the safety-critical vehicle control systems on the same bus as the infotainment controls. What could possibly go wrong? (It's ironic that among the reports of hacks and abuses over recent months, there was also a report suggesting that many customers didn't use or actively didn't want a lot of these new electronic gadgets in their vehicles anyway. The only developments that almost everyone seemed to support were the directly safety-related driver aids.)

Then we have the financial and insurance industries, whose only requirement for any software they make sometimes seems to be "minimise fraud". Obviously that's an important commercial requirement, but meanwhile, they still can't reliably do basic things like sending money from person A to person B, providing secure and usable on-line banking facilities, providing working IT for their in-branch staff, or sometimes even keeping accurate records of who is authorised to access an account or facility.

Comment Re:Aaaand *NOTHING* happens to them... (Score 4, Insightful) 122

We could call the licensed programmers "Software Engineers", and have it actually be true.

The trouble is, it wouldn't be, because we're probably still several decades away from the kind of maturity and evidence base we'd need in the industry to actually do software development as a true engineering discipline. It's a laudable goal, but we don't know how to do it yet.

Comment But who will watch the watchers^Wregulators? (Score 1) 122

The good thing is that licensed professionals have to adhere to professional standards or become liable.

The problem is who sets those standards.

No-one knows how to write perfect software, because there is no such thing. Even with technically perfect implementation, there are always questions of requirements and design where at some point the specification of what you need isn't in a neat, unambiguous, technical form.

Very few people in the world know how to write highly robust and secure software, and the cost of doing so is often high. A few more people are exploring various potentially better ways of doing things, which might improve the situation in the long term, but for now there isn't a large and reliable body of evidence to support most of these ideas. Crucially, in many cases today, even skilled and diligent professionals who will all do good work may genuinely disagree about which tools and techniques they prefer to use and why.

Regulation and licensing would most likely be based on "best practices" determined by some central organisation, but there is a tiny pool of candidates who are even remotely qualified to make such judgements and a tiny body of evidence to support it. Realistically, that means the people settings the standards probably won't be the real experts, such as they are. No, the regulators will more likely be people like those consultants who sell a different trendy methodology every few years, and the idea of giving those vacuous salespeople a louder voice than already have and actual legal powers over how other professionals develop software is more terrifying than any bug.

Comment Re:A significant difference between HW and SW sale (Score 1) 318

I'm certainly not arguing that MS are perfect when it comes to support. After all, we're having a discussion about how badly MS may be treating their customers with Windows 10.

However, generally until the run up to Windows 10 my experience has been that they're a lot better than the likes of Apple and Google at supporting their products for extended periods. Not only do they publish much longer support periods for security fixes, in the past they've also reportedly to gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain backward compatibility in new Windows releases, so fewer customers would lose functionality following an upgrade.

The really impressive thing is that they did this even though the problem often wasn't really Microsoft's fault at all and was instead due to other software developers relying on undocumented behaviour and unpublished APIs where they shouldn't have been. I'm not sure we can expect that level of customer support from them any more, sadly.

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization.

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