Thursday, February 11, 2010

Microsoft, phone home

Starting on February 16, Microsoft is going to send out a Windows 7 update which will change your system in an important way (assuming you use Windows 7): Your system will "phone home" to Microsoft on a routine basis to make sure that you are running a genuine copy of Windows. Are you running a genuine copy? If you bought your system used, you may not know.

At any rate, there are those of us who don't like the idea of an OS which talks to the internet against our will.

The best bet? Simple: Go to Control Panel, go to Windows Update, go to Change Settings, and then in the field where it says "Please select an option," go for "Never check for updates." If it ain't broke, don't update it.

I'm hoping that we can get through a discussion of this point without hearing from the buy-a-Mac guys and the go-Linux crowd. If I want to deal with proselytizers, I'll invite the JWs inside.
Turning all updates off is a very bad idea, MS Windows by nature is broke and always needs fixing. You should allow MS to notify you of updates that are available and choose the updates you wish to apply.

The update to avoid is "Update for Microsoft Windows (KB971033)".

This is currently classed as an important (and not critical) update. It may change if people do not download it.

It is also worthwhile noting that this update will be included in a service pack roll out. All important and critical updates are.

Of course the best thing to do is avoid the windows tax and install either Linux Mint or Ubuntu.
For more info see here
No "nya nyas" from this Mac user. But we are already well onto the other side of the crest of the slippery slope to technological tyranny. 9/11 cameras everywhere, FISA, every private concern asking for our SS# and mom's maiden name, Facebook pimping our personal info, and MS has been our tech wet nurse for over a decade.

There is a sliver of a window to avert this tech tyranny, but we are too strung out on on gizmo Soma to do anything about it.
There’s one big problem with not updating it. Many of the updates are patching newly discovered vulnerabilities. A while back, I turned off updating on one of my computers and it came down with a bad case of worms (I found out when the university information technology folks contacted me, because my computer had become a source of infestation for others on the LAN). These days, there’s a certain pattern – a new software vulnerability is discovered (often buffer overflow), malware-writers quickly try to exploit it (creating new viruses/worms/Trojans that specifically use it to infect), and within a day (or hours), a patch comes out for it (to eliminate the vulnerability).

I guess one option might be to do very frequent updates manually (rather than having it be automatic).
I don't like the idea of the system doing it on a regular basis since "shit regularly happens." I can see MS wanting verification when a user requests an update, but otherwise, why should they care? You have contact MS initially to install WIN7, right? Or at least I did when I upgraded my netbook's system. Furthermore, not everyone has internet access and not everyone wants to use the internet. I am not a conspiracy nut but this kinda makes me wonder...

Thanks for the Mac FanBoy Ban; I grew tired of hearing from them by 1990.
This reeks, Update verifies the authenticity of your copy of Windows before it allows updates to down load.
So why this?
What information will this new update send back to Redmond?
Just a validation of your product key or a snap shot of everything on your hard drive(s)?
Is it a cheap way to do market surveys to find out what programs you are using or is it something more sinister?
First cell phones and now this?
Big Brother Barack is watching you.
All hail the Obama!
Do the O-bots get brown shirts?
I have Vista on my new laptop with an upgrade cd to Windows 7. Vista is just awful. But now I don't want to upgrade to 7.

Will I cause myself a lot of grief - can I (even) install XP?

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Barbara, Windows 7 is a somewhat better system than XP, and much better than Vista. If I were you, I would go for W7 and -- even if yours is a legal copy -- I simply would not upgrade. Unless you receive notice of an upgrade that is really, really important -- and even then, make sure they explain WHY it is considered important.

As for exploits and hackers and other such worries -- load up your system with freeware anti-malware stuff, and use a good firewall. I have eight anti-malware programs on my system and I scan a LOT.

On the other hand...

The main advantage of W7 is the ability to address more than 4 gigs of RAM. I have a more-than-four gig set-up, cobbled together from used and donated equipment, and I have to admit -- you get used to all that extra horsepower real fast. On the other hand, I sometimes move around some awfully big image files in what I laughingly refer to as my professional life.

If you don't use more than 4 gigs of ram and if you are don't care about the world of 64 bit computing, then maybe you'll want to stick to XP. There are still lots of little programs which don't play well with W7, such as mIRC. And you can't play the original Doom or Quake anymore.
Thanks, Joseph

I'm going for a memory upgrade. I have the MAC Leopard as well as my pc laptop. The MAC is so fast that I fell like I'm on a slow ferry to nowhere with Vista. Also, a comment here or at Corrente, told me why I can't see the other computers on my home network.


Windows XP as "phoned home" for years.

I'm also guessing after a certain point the patch will be "mandatory". I.E. you'll get an annoying pop-up if you don't install it. And eventually when you really do want/need to apply an update you'll be forced to install it.
Since it's Microsoft software, it probably won't work anyway.
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