Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beware the Tricks When Updating to Windows 8.1

Oct. 26, 2013 Important Update: Please pay attention to the text after #6 and #7 below.

Just to have it done I decided today to update a customer's system from Windows 8 to 8.1. A few things caught my attention:

Depending in the speed of your internet connection and on the speed with which Microsoft delivers the download brace yourself for anything between 15 minutes and one to three hours - just for the download.

The installation speed will depend mainly an how fast your computer is and how fast or slow your disk drive is; it will take anything from 20 minutes to an hour or even more.

Microsoft came up with new tricks to get you to set up a Microsoft Account. BEWARE! I simply left the fields for name, email address and so on empty and clicked Next. Totally not intuitive but I got the old local account back. See below after #6.

The last of the preparation screens brought the surprise with the following six questions, all with ON (that is Yes, do it) preselected, quoted literally but emphasis added by yours truly:
  1. Use Bing to get search suggestions ad web results in Windows Search, and let Microsoft use my search history, location, and some account info to personalize my experiences
  2. In Internet Explorer, use page prediction to pre-load pages, which sends my browsing history to Microsoft
  3. Let apps use my name and account picture
  4. Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps
  5. Let Windows and apps request my location from the Windows Location Platform
  6. Get better protection from malware by sending info and files to Microsoft Active Protection Service when Windows Defender is turned on.
Do I need to talk about the obvious privacy issues with points 1 through 5? I hope not...Needless to say, I set all switches for questions 1 through 5 to OFF.

Point #6 makes sense, we all need better malware protection. But at this point in an upgrade I would appreciate to have at least some sort of "What is that?" available to learn what info is reported to Microsoft. But no luck here, there is nothing of this kind.

By now I have updated two machines from Windows 8 to 8.1.

The first machine I updated was an OEM installation; this means that Windows 8 was installed and licensed by the manufacturer and delivered with the computer. The system was set up to work with a local account.

The second machine I updated was my own laptop that I always have with me on customer visits; it runs a retail copy of Windows 8, that is a copy I bought myself from Microsoft in the early days of Windows 8. This machine was set up to work with a local account as well.
To my surprise the second machine showed during the initial setup of Windows 8.1 two more windows. At that stage of operation I did not yet have a screen shot program available so I need to try to describe these windows verbally.

The first of these additional windows asked without any explanation for my email address, name and other IMHO personal information. I did not supply any information but "took the plunge" and just clicked Next.

The second screen then gave in small, easy to overlook lettering the option to "Continue with your local account". That was what I did and the machine works beautifully.

The text after #6 IMHO shows two things:
  • Microsoft becomes ever more ruthless and blatant in trying to lure us into using a so called Microsoft Account. IMHO this is arm twisting!
  • There is a functional difference between updating an OEM version and and a retail version of Windows 8. This is in opposition of what Microsoft people say in their company blogs.
If you have a metered internet connection with a cap on the volume of data per month then numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 increase the risk of going over the data limit; and that gets expensaive really fast.

As usual I welcome suggestions and comments right here in the blog.

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Anonymous said...

I replaced my Vista laptop software and my XP desktop software each with a $40 MS Windows 8 offer some months ago, thinking it would be great to be able to update later, thus keeping both PCs up-to-date. Good news: I solved WiFi signin problems on my laptop. Bad news: MS free 8.1 download failed on both devices. Says it "cannot install 8.1 on this device". Took hours, but my TDS Internet connection withstood it. Oh well.....

Anonymous said...

Microsoft and its surveillance OS Windows becomes more and more dangerous. I will stay on WinXP and Linux.

Eike Heinze said...

As long as you are aware of the risks inherent in working with an unsupported operating system go ahead.
As long as all you do with your computer is Internet based, some text documents, spreadsheets and presentations I am totally with you if we talk about lightweight Linux versions like Linux Lite or similar.
I just sold my first purely Linux machine. With a small SSD drive (128GB) it is MUCH faster than the computer ever was with Windows.