A very curious test

TL:DR Windows 10 works really well if you ignore the privacy issues

Tek Syndicate has a very loyal percentage of Linux users, supporters and advocates. We also have a few fans of Apple/Mac/OS X.

What we don't seem to have is a group of Windows fans. Sure, lots of us use windows (wether it be 7 8/8.1 or 10) but the general consensus and feeling seems to be that it's all done under protest. If only this game or that program would work flawlessly on Linux, we would all jump ship.

What I decided to do - as an experiment - was to wipe my entire computer, and where possible use only the default Windows 10 applications. Yep - you read that right - Edge, Groove Music, Calendar, Mail, Defender, Office 365 etc.

I'm fairly sure at this point youre thinking - Well, Vandal's lost it, cracked, split with reality or somesuch. But - I felt I had a reason to do this. Here is why.

Every time the subject of Windows comes up, its in a negative context. I cant have privacy, DX isn't open source, Cortana is spying on me, Windows is harvesting all my data without permission. I'm not going to dispute these issues. That's not what this experiment is about. What I DID decide to do was to try an impartially judge Windows 10 and its included software. So with that in mind, goodbye Firefox, Thunderbird, Musicbee, Libre Office and all other non Microsoft programs.

I'll admit that it was difficult to stop myself from judging the included programs against the competition and just looking at the in their own right.

So - how did this all turn out?

Edge - Importing data (Bookmarks, passwords etc) from anything except Internet explorer is not straight forward. I had to export everything from firefox to a HTML file, open that with Edge and manually add all the bookmarks, usernames and passwords. Aside from that - Edge is actually pretty good (stay with me - don't go into shock yet) Sure it has its issues, like the lack of an adblocker, or any decent plugins, but it works well. It's actually the ONLY browser that has had no issues with any webpages, for me at least.

Verdict - A full replacement for Firefox? No. BUT if it had an adblocker, then I would probably change that to Yes

Groove Music - Yes its less featured than Musicbee, yes I had to manually re-do all my playlists, Yes I cant view lyrics, or change themes etc, But as a music player it works fine, it will sync with my phone (Lumia 950) and it can be controlled with Cortana (more on that in a bit).

Verdict - Replacement for Musicbee? If you want custom layouts and themes - No. If you just want a player that plays music and can do playlists - Yes

Windows Mail - What can I say here? It sends and receives mail, can have any number of accounts linked to it, and the notifications are natively built into Windows Notifications.

Verdict - Replacement for Thunderbird? Yes. Absolutely.

Windows Calendar - I was using the Lightening calendar functionality of Thunderbird. Could this replace it? Again yes. It does everything well, the reminders and alerts are built into Windows Notifications, Works well with Cortana.

Verdict - Thunderbird replacement? Yes. Definitively Yes

Finally - Cortana.

I don't use any Mac stuff, so I cant compare Cortana to Siri. With that in mind, I decided not to compare Cortana againt Google either. I will just be looking at Cortana in (its? Her?) own right.

You can set Cortana to be always listening for "Ok Cortana" or to only activate when you click the microphone icon. If you choose always listen, you can also train her to respond ONLY to your voice. I tested this quite a bit with a few friends of mine and I have to say - I was impressed. This works really well.
In terms of interacting with Windows 10 itself, Cortana does do a good job. You can skip, rewind open or close music. You can add calendar appointments, set reminders and alarms. Have her open office programs, close them, or display recent documents.
Have her search Edge, tell you the weather, start skype calls, add contacts, send messages, read messages to you, dictate text documents. I think Microsoft have done a great job with Cortana, and she has come a long way since the early days of the Insider preview.

There are, however, a few issues with Cortana. She can be slow. For example - If I were to say "Ok Cortana, play next track" - if she were on always listen, its less than 50/50 if she will hear me at all, and when she does hear what you say, there is an up to 5 second delay before she processes your input to when she acts on it. 5 seconds isn't long, but in this day and age, its too much of a delay. Its actually faster to do it manually with either keyboard shortcuts, or with your mouse.
OK Cortana, doesn't always work. The more background noise, the lower the chance. Substantially worse than Google now (and I can only assume Siri would be better too, I don't have a way to compare)

And finally the elephant in the room. Do you have to surrender all privacy to just use the built in apps?

I would guess that almost all of you would say Yes.

I cant answer this one. Sure there are plenty of rumors and guesswork, but as Windows is closed source, guess is all we can do. I don't know how much privacy is gone, or how much and what type of data they are collecting. To be honest, I doubt there is much difference between Microsoft, Apple and Google.

I am going to continue to use only the built in Windows stuff for now, with all the data harvesting stuff ON, and after a month, see what that has actually meant for me. I highly doubt that I will stay with all Microsoft apps long term, but after having done this 'experiment' I have to say, once you look at the OS without the pre-conceived notion of "ErrMahGrerd!!!! they is taking all the things" Windows 10 and its apps do a great job of organizing all your stuff into one integrated workspace.

Feel free to comment in any way you see fit, but please remember this was intentionally done without aking the privacy factors into account!

2 Likes

I think you missed the point of why people want to disable data collection on windows, and why windows got so much hate for it - unlike google or apple.

MS stated that all of those tracking features will be removed once beta is over. Beta ended, final was released; tracking/spying features were not removed - people got pissed, ms didn't respond; after a huge waterfall, they have stated you can fully disable tracking etc - but that turned out to be another lie; then they stated enterprise users will not contain tracking code; they did, and it will never be removed.

This is why people hate on windows 10. Not because they do all those things but because they lied. Do you really think 40% of windows users actually give a fuck? They do not. They will only suffer from tinfoil hats, or people respecting their privacy to biggest extend. Rest of users do not care. They use google, they use apple, they use win10 and android phones that spy on them.

They do not care, and they reflect your test.
(those people have nothing to hide, so they don't care about privacy, they have nothing to say so they don't care about freedom of speech)
There's too many Hilary Clinton's alike people in the world - ignorance is bliss.

Win10 is not worse than google or apple. Its the same. The ability of tracking is much greater than that of google though. They might just put google out of business.

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I don't know about that...though I get the point you are trying to make.

The hatred goes deeper than just the privacy concerns - I mean, let's face it, it's easy to write off some flaws if the product is good, and unfortunately, Win10 is pretty impressive performance-wise. But the hatred comes from many sources. The obvious backlash against privacy concerns, and Windows moving to restrict it's platform and offer it more as a service than a product. The landscape of Windows went from a fenced in pastured to a sealed box in a single version update (granted, that box is considerably larger than OSX, but let's not dissect the nuance of the metaphor).

The problem with Windows comes from many different angles. Honestly, a personal beef I have with it is it's UI. Surprisingly the drastic UI change from 7 to 8.1 didn't bother me that much, however, on my laptop where I just recently installed Win10 it feels like they did their best to hide more advanced control on the system left with a "settings" menu instead of "control panel" menu. This also includes another problem where it seems like a lot of features can't be entirely disabled to (at least not to my knowledge, and if they can be disabled, then they hid it pretty well)

EDIT
I feel I should clarify the privacy concerns are still a huge deal for me as well, on top of the other existing concerns.

My biggest hatred for win 10 is the lack of control and the fact that every update it wrecks something that i had config to work. Never runs kind of the same from month to month. Something this month is that suddenly using far more ram than it use too ? System is same and no new software of anykind. I do not how they are going to sell something that breaks shit every month reconfigs your settings and uninstalls your software that it doesn's approve of................... non enterprise user

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Only thing that i actually like about win 10 is the abiltiy to determine what drive stuff goes to. Its best feature as far as i am concerned. Pretty handy. In the end it not not even stable enough for a gaming machine :(

HALP, "I need an adult"

; ; Windows touched my privacy settings.

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I loved this. Finally someone that isn't so closed minded and childishly stubborn.

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Great point. I feel like with every reboot win10 changes my config. Things like the timezone are always set incorrectly. And I can't even control when it runs fucking updates. I want to reboot and windows says "Let me just install these 300 updates that I didnt tell you about. Oh and btw these updates will take 10 more reboots!" and thats a pain in the ass when you're running a dual boot with linux as the default boot option. I can't even leave the room while its doing updates

Dont really have to lie about :) It isn't stable if something gets wrecked once a month ? Will not even begin on why beta gpu's drivers get uninstalled all the time :)

I found something even better! I used to have a blackberry z10 (that aged horribly but thats a different story) and there was a driver for usb tethering. For some reason that driver always fucks over my ethernet connection so I uninstalled it. And what does Windows do? It reinstalls the driver as part of a fucking system update! And every time I would confused as to why I don't have internet. And dont even get me started on the heavily gimped/simplified UI for things like settings. I can't wait until AMD's linux drivers are better and wine dx11 support improves so I can finally get rid of windows

I quite enjoy Windows Mail myself also. Have it for my hotmail account and is quite nice. As for the other services and telemetry, I disable them with Ultimate Windows Tweaker. My only cringe with it concerns my mom's pc as there is something broken in Windows that I'm still not able to pinpoint and DISM doesn't work.

There is a way to make these indiserable updates invisible so that Windows never reinstall them again.

Once I took IT training in how to actually use Windows properly and tinker with the hidden controls. I kind of like it now.