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Windows 10 - if necessary...

As of: 27. January 2016

In several articles we have so far reported negatively about Windows 10. It is now time to ask whether Windows 10 has become "uni-capable" in the meantime. 

Yes, under very special (installation) conditions you can work with Windows 10 today.

But you do not have to: there are only a few cases in which Windows 10 brings real technological advantages to the university. So you can stay with Windows 7 or 8.1 for a few more years, except for 

  • PCs with active (=used) OEM/SB-Windows 7/8.1 ("basic operating system") should be upgraded before 29.7.2016 if the computers are to be used for several years (see addendum) so that the option to "Windows 10 free of charge" is retained. The edition (Home Premium or Prof.) which is also installed on the computer will always be installed. The versions purchased via the software shop (from the Select program) cannot be upgraded free of charge. 
    • Addendum: If the computer has already been running for a few years and the expected service life is only short (1-2 years), it is probably not worth the effort to carry out the free upgrade. The you work the next years still with the old system and buy then with the successor devices the current Windows license again. Then you will have to reinstall everything anyway - please also read the information below under "And now definitely...". (and the article about "Backup - but right")!
    • IF it "happens" that you change without "actually planning" it - MS can be very aggressive to "recommend" the change of system - it is not bad (if it worked, as in most cases). Also here applies: Then please pay attention to the information below under "And now in any case..."! You do not have to restore the old system - you can really work with Windows 10. 
  • New PCs purchased with a Windows 10 do not have to be reinstalled on an older system, i.e. you can/must use Windows 10 with it. But the security and data protection settings should absolutely be checked (see below "And now in any case..."). 
    • Note: If a new computer is still sold with "Windows 7/8/8.1", it is hopefully a Windows 10 Pro license with downgrade rights. Then have the specific license (e.g. "Windows 10 Professional 64 Bit") and the downgrade right confirmed in writing (should be on the invoice) and the data carrier for Windows 10 with activation code included. The Windows 10 COA label (the "sticker with activation key") should be stuck on the computer or handed over to you together with the computer. 

For all other systems (which do not allow a free upgrade) I would like to keep shouting: "Keep your hands off Windows 10" - unless there are really good reasons for the not inconsiderable investment. 

The tip that you can buy an old Windows 7 or 8.1 on the second-hand market to get a free upgrade is critical to evaluate. Often you do not get a valid license. For Microsoft, the COA label is the actual proof of license. The purchase of "working license keys" is not sufficient (this may allow activation, but it is not a license!). Caution is also advised for so-called "refurbished" licenses. Only if you get a meaningful invoice AND the COA label AND a suitable data carrier, this should be sufficient for a license check. And even there you are not safe from forgeries. 

There are still problems...

Despite the "change of heart" describer here, the basic articles we have published in recent months continue to apply in principle. Perhaps you would like to take a look at...

  • Windows 10 - not ready for everyday work" and the previous articles
  • Windows 10 - Quick Change? (Part 1 and 2)

But back to privacy:

Microsoft continues to collect a lot of data - especially with the Windows 10 Home and Professional versions - even when the collecting frenzy is actually switched off. The nickname "data octopus" is correct. Nevertheless, according to the current evaluation, this is not a "data protection offence", because most data collections are well documented (privacy.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows10privacy or privacy.microsoft.com/en-gb/privacystatement) and we as users explicitly agree to this when we use Windows. Microsoft relies on the so-called "opt-out" procedure, unfortunately in full compliance with the law. You have to say "no" if you do not want something. Although all data protectores favour an "opt-in" procedure, both are legally permissible. 

And this is also justified (in terms of content): From the "Privacy Statement" (I will not withhold that from you):

"Windows 10 ("Windows") is a personalized IT environment that enables you to seamlessly roam and access services, preferences and content across all your IT devices, from phones to tablets to surface hubs. Rather than being installed as a static software program on your device, the key components of Windows are based on the cloud and both the cloud and local elements of Windows are regularly updated to provide you with the latest improvements and features. To provide this computing experience, we collect information about you, your device, and how you use Windows. And because Windows is personalized for you, we give you choices about what personal information we collect and how we use it."

What most people ignore is that we are often forbidden from giving this consent in the course of our official duties. The data we may disclose here often does not belong to us, but to the university/our clients: What we do privately is our business, but not what we do on university computers!

Installation Tips 

As with any system installation, a reasonable data backup (of personal files, but also important favourites in the browser, default setting, DRM information, certificates, etc.) and a list of important license keys and access data (especially to external services) are part of the preparatory measures.

Then you need to clarify whether Windows 10 is running on your system at all and get the necessary hardware drivers. 

Then you can install Windows the way you are used to. There is the complete new installation or the so-called "inplace upgrade" (i.e. the transfer of an existing Windows). Please note that "critical software" should first be uninstalled during an "inplace upgrade". This includes the antivirus products and VPN software (we used to report that the upgrade does not work if such software is installed in the system). In other cases, the setup of Windows 10 will automatically uninstall some software, so you should back up special license information of products before.

When everything is ready, you can install Windows 10. 

  • Please always use "User defined" and never (!) "Express Settings" - this will open everything the system has to offer...
  • Installation always without "MS account" (so only work with local accounts)
    • Note: Microsoft's "normal" cloud services usually refer to services that are not allowed to be used in the university environment, since otherwise the data protection concerns and the concerns of data worth protecting at the university are not taken into account. 
  • This is sometimes difficult to find: When setting up, say "I do not know the login information", do not register a new MS account on the next page, but select "local account" at the bottom (lower case). 
  • Disable all security/privacy relevant settings (i.e. usually ALL switches)

Then you have set up the basic system.

The next step is to perform the necessary updates, check - as always - whether your hardware has been detected and the correct drivers have been installed. This is how you "round off" the system. 

You can now reinstall a current antivirus solution - it is always part of the system, even if the supplied version (of Windows Defender) has improved. We at the HRZ still rely on additional software. 

And now definitely...

Then you set up a secure environment for EVERY user with the help of tools such as O&O's "Shutup 10". You should perform this process occasionally (once a year or after major "technical updated" (those that were previously released as "Service Pack" or new Windows)) with the then current version of "Shutup 10"... for each user. 

I like the O&O tool because it intuitively says: "If the switch is set to "green", the service is secured": Recommended: Switch off everything you do not necessarily need. If you simply click on a line, the program will show you an explanation to help you make your decision. 

On my computer (Windows 10 Prof.) only the following services run (i.e. only here "Red switch" is found). 

In the "Privacy" section 

  • Disable access to browser's language list (many people say it is not necessary either)

and in the "Windows Update" area

  • Activate postponement of upgrades (you can switch it on, then the technical updates will arrive on your computer with a little delay. Security updates always come very quickly).
  • Disable automatic driver upgrades by Windows update
  • Disable automatic Windows updates (1 of 2)
  • Disable automatic Windows update (2 of 2)
  • Disable Windows updates for other products (e.g. Microsoft Office) (I want these updates on my computer as well - so do not disable them)

All other services are - with me - "secured" (i.e. "green"). These services are needed by the system to stay up to date. Unfortunately, this list has been changed from time to time when the product Shutup 10 was changed. Adapt the system according to YOUR needs!

Please note that this is a very personal example where an own antivirus (AV) software has been installed in the system (so I can do without Windows Defender - but if you do not have your own AV program, Defender should stay active in the system!).

If you want to make it "easy" for yourself:

  • Click on "Actions" and then "create System Restore Point". 

Then, if you do not need most things anyway, select "All recommended settings" and test if everything you need is still running. 

If you are less brave, you can create a certain level of security with "Apply all recommended settings". In addition, you can then turn off individual options. 

However, you should always overwrite the default settings of the system with this or another tool, because they are not suitable for us. You can also export the settings so that you can quickly update them for other users. 

In addition, there are some interesting adjustments in the different areas (e.g. "Start --> Settings --> Privacy --> Update and Security), for which you may need to understand more about the services. 

Regular maintenance...

Unfortunately, with the last major update (1511: November 2015), Microsoft has reversed many of the changes it has previously made. Therefore you have to check the settings of EVERY USER with Shutup 10 every now and then (e.g. after bigger updates). Ideally, you should download the current version first, because O&O also changes its tool again and again and faces new challenges. This task is therefore added to the regular maintenance tasks (besides data backup. system checks, application updates, etc.). 

If you take our tips to heart, you will also be able to avoid the biggest shoals on your Windows 10 journey. Of course, this article does not replace the critical examination of the respective technologies, but we hope it will help with the (responsible) introduction of the new operating system. 

Best Regards

Andreas Beutgen, HRZ

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Definitions: OEM/SB, COA label

OEM: "Original Equipment Manufacturer" - a Windows operating system sold with the hardware (should absolutely be included in the invoice, ideally with activation key (no: "Windows Operating System", but "Windows 10 Prof. 64 bit, downgrade to Win 8.1 Prof. included, activation key: XXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX") and no, we do not know any dealer who does this in such detail -but ask for it. The more often, the better! 

SB: "Systembuilder" - a "free" Windows operating system, which can be assigned to a computer afterwards (but before the first installation of Windows!), if no OEM is detectable. After the assignment, the newer operating system versions are bound to the hardware (mainboard!). The often quoted judgement on transferability only applies to the Windows of that time. Today it no longer applies (see terms of use of the respective product/framework agreement!)

COA-Label: "Certificate of Authenticity" - a sticker that is attached to the case (OEM)/ should be (SB) to confirm the authenticity of the installed operating system. Ultimately, this sticker (and formally ONLY THE) serves as proof of license. An invoice CAN make the purchase of the operating system plausible, but does not have to be accepted. Further explanations at devicepartner.microsoft.com/en-GB/.

 

 

 

 

 

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