Windows 10 is a major release of the
Windows NT Windows NT is a proprietary {{Short pages monitor, while eventually in 2018, it became more popular than Windows 7 (though Windows 7 was still more used in some countries in Asia and Africa in 2019). , the operating system is running on over a billion devices, reaching the goal set by Microsoft two years after the initial deadline. Twenty-four hours after it was released, Microsoft announced that over 14million devices were running Windows10. On August 26, Microsoft said over 75million devices were running Windows10, in 192countries, and on over 90,000 unique PC or tablet models. According to Terry Myerson, there were over 110million devices running Windows10 as of October 6, 2015. On January 4, 2016, Microsoft reported that Windows10 had been activated on over 200million devices since the operating system's launch in July 2015. According to StatCounter, Windows 10 overtook Windows 8.1 in December 2015. Iceland was the first country where Windows 10 was ranked first (not only on the desktop, but across all platforms), with several larger European countries following. For one week in late November 2016, Windows 10 overtook first rank from Windows 7 in the United States, before losing it again. By February 2017, Windows 10 was losing market share to Windows 7. In mid-January 2018, Windows 10 had a slightly higher global market share than Windows 7, with it noticeably more popular on weekends, while popularity varies widely by region, e.g. Windows 10 was then still behind in Africa and far ahead in some other regions e.g. Oceania.

Update system changes

Windows 10 Home is permanently set to download all updates automatically, including cumulative updates, security patches, and drivers, and users cannot individually select updates to install or not. Microsoft offers a diagnostic tool that can be used to hide updates and prevent them from being reinstalled, but only after they had been already installed, then uninstalled without rebooting the system. Tom Warren of ''The Verge'' felt that, given web browsers such as Google Chrome had already adopted such an automatic update system, such a requirement would help to keep all Windows10 devices secure, and felt that "if you're used to family members calling you for technical support because they've failed to upgrade to the latest Windows service pack or some malware disabled Windows Update then those days will hopefully be over." Concerns were raised that because of these changes, users would be unable to skip the automatic installation of updates that are faulty or cause issues with certain system configurations—although build upgrades will also be subject to public beta testing via Windows Insider program. There were also concerns that the forced installation of driver updates through Windows Update, where they were previously designated as "optional", could cause conflicts with drivers that were installed independently of Windows Update. An example of such a situation occurred prior to the general release of the operating system, when an Nvidia graphics card driver that was automatically pushed to Windows10 users via Windows Update caused issues that prevented the use of certain functions, or prevented their system from booting at all. Criticism was also directed towards Microsoft's decision to no longer provide specific details on the contents of cumulative updates for Windows 10. On February 9, 2016, Microsoft retracted this decision and began to provide release notes for cumulative updates on the Windows website. Some users reported that during the installation of the November upgrade, some applications (particularly utility programs such as CPU-Z and Speccy) were automatically uninstalled during the upgrade process, and some default programs were reset to Microsoft-specified defaults (such as Photos app, and Microsoft Edge for PDF viewing), both without warning. Further issues were discovered upon the launch of the Anniversary Update ("Redstone"), including a bug that caused some devices to freeze (but addressed by cumulative update KB3176938, released on August 31, 2016), and that fundamental changes to how Windows handles webcams had caused many to stop working. In June 2017, a Redstone 3 Insider build ''(RS_EDGE_CASE'' in PC and ''rs_IoT'' on Mobile) was accidentally released to both Insider and non-Insider users on all Windows 10 devices, but the update was retracted, with Microsoft apologizing and releasing a note on their Windows Insider Program blog describing how to prevent the build from being installed on their device. According to Dona Sarkar, this was due to "an inadvertent deployment to the engineering system that controls which builds/which rings to push out to insiders." A Gartner analyst felt that Windows 10 Pro was becoming increasingly inappropriate for use in enterprise environments because of support policy changes by Microsoft, including consumer-oriented upgrade lifecycle length, and only offering extended support for individual builds to Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10. Critics have acknowledged that Microsoft's update and testing practices had been affecting the overall quality of Windows 10. In particular, it was pointed out that Microsoft's internal testing departments had been prominently affected by a major round of layoffs undertaken by the company in 2014. Microsoft relies primarily on user testing and bug reports via the Windows Insider program (which may not always be of sufficient quality to identify a bug), as well as correspondence with OEMs and other stakeholders. In the wake of the known folder redirection data loss bug in the version 1809, it was pointed out that bug reports describing the issue had been present on the Feedback Hub app for several months prior to the public release. Following the incident, Microsoft updated Feedback Hub so that users may specify the severity of a particular bug report. When announcing the resumption of 1809's rollout, Microsoft stated that it planned to be more transparent in its handling of update quality in the future, through a series of blog posts that will detail its testing process and the planned development of a "dashboard" that will indicate the rollout progress of future updates.

Distribution practices

Microsoft was criticized for the tactics that it used to promote its free upgrade campaign for Windows 10, including
adware Adware, often called advertising-supported software by its developers, is software Software is a collection of instructions that tell a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or ...
-like behaviors, using deceptive user interfaces to coax users into installing the operating system, downloading installation files without user consent, and making it difficult for users to suppress the advertising and notifications if they did not wish to upgrade to 10. The upgrade offer was marketed and initiated using the "Get Windows 10" (GWX) application, which was first downloaded and installed via Windows Update in March 2015. Windows Registry, Registry keys and Group Policy, group policies could be used to partially disable the GWX mechanism, but the installation of patches to the GWX software via Windows Update could reset these keys back to defaults, and thus reactivate the software. Third-party programs were also created to assist users in applying measures to disable GWX. In September 2015, it was reported that Microsoft was triggering automatic downloads of Windows 10 installation files on all compatible Windows 7 or 8.1 systems configured to automatically download and install updates, regardless of whether or not they had specifically requested the upgrade. Microsoft officially confirmed the change, claiming it was "an industry practice that reduces the time for installation and ensures device readiness." This move was criticized by users with data caps or devices with low storage capacity, as resources were consumed by the automatic downloads of up to 6 GB of data. Other critics argued that Microsoft should not have triggered any downloading of Windows 10 installation files without user consent. In October 2015, Windows 10 began to appear as an "Optional" update on the Windows Update interface, but pre-selected for installation on some systems. A Microsoft spokesperson said that this was a mistake, and that the download would no longer be pre-selected by default. However, on October 29, 2015, Microsoft announced that it planned to classify Windows 10 as a "recommended" update in the Windows Update interface sometime in 2016, which would cause an automatic download of installation files and a one-time prompt with a choice to install to appear. In December 2015, it was reported that a new advertising dialog had begun to appear, only containing "Upgrade now" and "Upgrade tonight" buttons, and no obvious method to decline installation besides the close button. In March 2016, some users also alleged that their Windows 7 and 8.1 devices had automatically begun upgrading to Windows 10 without their consent. In June 2016, the GWX dialog's behavior changed to make closing the window imply a consent to a scheduled upgrade. Despite this, an ''InfoWorld'' editor disputed the claims that upgrades had begun without any consent at all; testing showed that the upgrade to Windows 10 would only begin once the user accepts the end-user license agreement (EULA) presented by its installer, and that not doing so would eventually cause Windows Update to time out with an error, thus halting the installation attempt. It was concluded that these users may have unknowingly clicked the "Accept" prompt without full knowledge that this would begin the upgrade. In December 2016, Microsoft's chief marketing officer Chris Capossela admitted that the company had "gone too far" by using this tactic, stating, "we know we want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective, but finding the right balance where you're not stepping over the line of being too aggressive is something we tried and for a lot of the year I think we got it right." On January 21, 2016, Microsoft was sued in small claims court by a user whose computer had attempted to upgrade to Windows 10 without her consent shortly after the release of the operating system. The upgrade failed, and her computer was left in a broken state thereafter, which disrupted the ability to run her travel agency. The court ruled in favor of the user and awarded her $10,000 in damages, but Microsoft appealed. However, in May 2016, Microsoft dropped the appeal and chose to pay the damages. Shortly after the suit was reported on by the ''Seattle Times'', Microsoft confirmed it was updating the GWX software once again to add more explicit options for opting out of a free Windows 10 upgrade; the final notification was a full-screen pop-up window notifying users of the impending end of the free upgrade offer, and contained "Remind me later", "Do not notify me again" and "Notify me three more times" as options. In March 2019, Microsoft announced that it would display notifications informing users on Windows 7 devices of the upcoming end of extended support for the platform, and direct users to a website urging them to upgrade to Windows 10 or purchase new hardware. This dialog will be similar to the previous Windows 10 upgrade prompts, but will not explicitly mention Windows 10.

Privacy and data collection

Privacy advocates and other critics have expressed concern regarding Windows10's privacy policies and its collection and use of customer data. Under the default "Express" settings, Windows10 is configured to send various information to Microsoft and other parties, including the collection of user contacts, calendar data, and "associated input data" to personalize "speech, typing, and inking input", typing and inking data to improve recognition, allowing apps to use a unique "advertisingID" for analytics and advertising personalization (functionality introduced by Windows 8.1) and allow apps to request the user's location data and send this data to Microsoft and "trusted partners" to improve location detection (Windows8 had similar settings, except that location data collection did not include "trusted partners"). Users can opt out from most of this data collection, but telemetry data for error reporting and usage is also sent to Microsoft, and this cannot be disabled on non-Enterprise editions of Windows10. Microsoft's privacy policy states, however, that "Basic"-level telemetry data is Data anonymization, anonymized and cannot be used to identify an individual user or device. The use of Cortana also requires the collection of data "such as Your PC location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on Your PC" to personalize its functionality. ''Rock Paper Shotgun'' writer Alec Meer argued that Microsoft's intent for this data collection lacked transparency, stating that "there is no world in which 45pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13different settings screens and an external website constitutes 'real transparency'." Joel Hruska of ''ExtremeTech'' wrote that "the company that brought us the 'Scroogled' campaign now The Hoover Company#The word "hoover", hoovers up your data in ways that would make Google jealous." However, it was also pointed out that the requirement for such vast usage of customer data had become a norm, citing the increased reliance on cloud computing and other forms of external processing, as well as similar data collection requirements for services on mobile devices such as Google Now and Siri. In August 2015, Russian politician Nikolai Levichev called for Windows10 to be banned from use within the Russian government, as it sends user data to servers in the United States. The Russian government had passed a federal law requiring all online services to store the data of Russian users on servers within the country by September 2016 or be blocked. Writing for ''ZDNet'', Ed Bott said that the lack of complaints by businesses about privacy in Windows10 indicated "how utterly normal those privacy terms are in 2015." In a ''Computerworld'' editorial, Preston Gralla said that "the kind of information Windows10 gathers is no different from what other operating systems gather. But Microsoft is held to a different standard than other companies". The Microsoft Services agreement reads that the company's online services may automatically "download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices." Critics interpreted this statement as implying that Microsoft would scan for and delete Copyright infringement of software, unlicensed software installed on devices running Windows10. However, others pointed out that this agreement was specifically for Microsoft online services such as Microsoft account, Office 365, Skype, as well as Xbox Live, and that the offending passage most likely referred to digital rights management on Xbox consoles and first-party games, and not plans to police pirated video games installed on Windows10 PCs. Despite this, some torrent trackers announced plans to block Windows10 users, also arguing that the operating system could send information to anti-piracy groups that are affiliated with Microsoft. Writing about these allegations, Ed Bott of ''ZDNet'' compared Microsoft's privacy policy to Apple's and Google's and concluded that he "[didn't] see anything that looks remotely like Big Brother (Nineteen Eighty-Four), Big Brother." Columnist Kim Komando argued that "Microsoft might in the future run scans and disable software or hardware it sees as a security threat," consistent with the Windows10 update policy. In September 2019, Microsoft hid the option to create a local account during a fresh installation if a PC is connected to the internet. This move was criticized by users who did not want to use an online Microsoft account. In late-July 2020, Windows Defender began to classify modifications of the Hosts (file), hosts file that block Microsoft telemetry servers as being a severe security risk.

See also

* Comparison of operating systems * History of operating systems * List of operating systems * Microsoft Windows version history


External links

Windows 10 release information
from Microsoft {{authority control Windows 10, 2015 software ARM operating systems IA-32 operating systems Proprietary operating systems Tablet operating systems Windows NT, 10 X86-64 operating systems