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2017-11-20Anniversary post, a year of having replaced Windows with Linux

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I replaced Windows 7 late last year, because, having tried and used Windows 10 on another machine,there were too many problems and I wanted to find a reliable alternative before 2020 when support for Windows 7 runs out.

The problems included forced updates and restarts (an absolute dealbreaker), but also many other annoyances – ads on the lock screen and in other places, spyware-like data collection, a tablet style interface introduced in Windows 8, the hassle of completely disabling voice search, the way Windows 10 wipes out preferred application settings during updates, the untidiness of having a new Settings manager alongside a Control Panel, the flatness of its new theme, and other issues.

Even if you just look at the privacy issues, as noted by the article below, "29 per cent of Windows 10's 500 million customers didn't settle for default settings. That's 145 million people who didn't just click through on the default setup, but actively tried to restrict the amount of data the operating system leaks." That's a phenomenal number to have had concerns.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/09/microsofts_privacy_enhancements/

Many of the interface changes could be worked around with tools such as Classic Shell, and a few (eg update management and not restarting your machine when they feel like it) have been backtracked on to some extent by Microsoft, but it felt too much like fighting the operating system and company producing it at every turn. The number of complaints and seriousness of some of those issues overcame my resistance to change, which has always been fairly strong.

These are actually some of the more positive write ups, noting backtracking or ways to disable: https://arstechnica.co.uk/information-technology/2017/04/windows-10-creators-update-privacy-telemetry/
https://www.windowscentral.com/how-remove-advertising-windows-10
https://www.cnet.com/uk/news/microsoft-forced-windows-update-auto-restart-snooze-indefinitely-windows-10/
https://tech.slashdot.org/story/17/08/23/1831250/microsoft-will-never-again-sneakily-force-windows-downloads-on-users

But my goodwill isn't coming back, and having to hunt around for settings to turn off data collection or advertising isn't acceptable. Just because they got a lot of complaint, including from governments as well as end users, doesn't mean it's a good idea to trust them again. Essentially they're sorry they got caught, and it's not for the first time – you may not know, but Microsoft was convicted for abusing a monopoly position some years back.

If an Android or iOS tablet doesn't do everything you need, and/or you don't want to buy a Mac – because there's usually no good reason to ditch a working computer if the hardware isn't that old – or you simply like being able to customise, I'd definitely consider Linux worth a look. Having been using Windows for personal use for over twenty years it felt like a fairly big decision at the time, but at no point have I thought "I should go back".

The advice I'd give is still more-or-less the same:

Various useful links: ubuntu.com | linuxmint.com | elementary.io | xubuntu.org | virtualbox.org


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