Windows 10 gets a lot of criticism around here, but I suspect most of the criticism comes from people who haven't actually use it. If you do use it the reality is far worse.
This is a good point. Having read all the horror stories and comments, I don't want to risk using Windows 10. So, yes, at least implicitly I'm criticizing it without having used it. I'll stick with Linux Mint and very occasional use of a Windows 8.1 partition (which I really don't need except for seldom played games).
I run Windows 10 in a virtual machine but even then it loves to phone home and that is before I even log in.
Here is a simple test for people running Windows 10. Download Wireshark . You will have to do a little reading to get an idea of how Wireshark works and reports what it sees but it is well worth it. Once you get a basic understanding of how Wireshark works then do the following:
1) Make sure you don't have any web services such as browsers, mail clients or torrents running.
2) Start Wireshark and select the network port you are using.
3) You should notice that your PC's IP address will talk to your router's IP and vice versa, so you will get a small amount of network traffic there.
4) Now any other network traffic is part of what the OS or any applications that you failed to stop is trying to send and receive.
5) To be fair you may see a few incoming IP's that are trying to crack your system which hopefully should block them so there shouldn't be too many (worry if there are).
6) Note down any regular IP address that your machine is receiving (ie. Incoming) and the IP addresses that your machine is sending to (ie. Outgoing).
7) Now you can turn off Wireshark because you will need to start a browser and this will make it go ballistic.
8) Bring up an IP address reporting site. I use this one and enter the IP addresses you find. You should find the results interesting.
If you find that your Windows 10 OS is not chatty then congratulations you aren't running Windows 10. :-)
If you were running a Linux OS then by doing the above you would not see any suspicious network traffic (well hopefully not, but you will be aware) unless your update service which you control kicks in.
Actually, it would be interesting to do what I have suggested with Windows 7/1/8.1. Any volunteers?
Warning: Only run Wireshark at home. Don't run Wireshark in any other place unless you have written permission to do so since by doing so you could be arrested for being a "cracker" which is a criminal offence.
Note the difference between the words "hacker" and "cracker", the so called IT technical writers have been getting wrong for well over 20 years.