About 10 years ago, Microsoft saw both advances in touch-screen technology, and increasing acceptance of what was once regarded as being on the fringes of nerdom (e.g. laptop/tablet computers, computer games, etc.) become mainstream. Microsoft then decided to take advantage of the times and worked out the following:
(1) (Ab)use its near-monopoly power by creating an user interface that spans across all devices. This was achieved by introducing Windows 8 and then Windows 10, so that customers saw the same thing regardless of the device (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, Xbox, etc.) being used. But Windows 10 is a nasty mess. It tries to be everything to everyone, and at the same time manages to stitch together one big mess. I don't want colorful blocks, animation, changing view modes, Cortana (ironically named after a video game character who turns out to be evil and tries to take over the universe... hmmm), or all the other fancy spyware for that matter.
(2) Make customers pay in smaller increments, but a larger amount overall, for stuff that is pennies on the dollar for Microsoft itself. This is the “cloud” software that Microsoft peddles, which is just a fancy name for storage space like a virtual USB flash drive, but only accessible through an internet connection, and then forcing customers pay regularly for it. So a customer who once could have bought a legitimate version of Microsoft Office for $99 now has to pay $99 each year to use it. Yeah, you get 5 installation licenses, but how many people have 5 computers to install it on? And God forbid you try to buy a 6th computer in the meantime. Besides, by year 6, Microsoft is still laughing all the way to the bank.
(3) Force customers to upgrade and adopt (1) and (2) through planned obsolescence – here, by eventually refusing to support older versions of its most popular software, Windows and Office.
The carrot (or hook, line and sinker, if you will) is the “free” Windows 10 upgrade. But if you think Microsoft is looking out for you and trying to help, then I've got a bridge to sell you.
See, if Windows 10 is so great, why is Microsoft so intent on giving it away for free? In fact, why is Microsoft tricking customers into upgrading even if the customer is trying to back out? Sounds like a case of really sleazy salesmanship; the market, of course, has responded appropriately.
In this day and age where Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Microsoft, etc. are all working to build a database about users that eclipses anything known to man, Microsoft has taken the extra step by peeking at everything through every device for every person who has gotten hooked into Windows 10, Office 365 and the like. Where else, but to Microsoft's hub, do all the user activity and “cloud” backups of everything on customers' hard drives go? Yeah, you can go the extra mile by turning off all those switches. To me, however, these switches are just placebos. Microsoft has dug its nails into the deepest parts of who you are and it is never going to let go.
That's why we should never trust fluff from Microsoft, such as: "Microsoft is deeply committed to protecting our customers' privacy. Consistent with all modern services and websites, the Windows 10 information highlighted in the blog on January 4 is standard diagnostic, anonymous analytics that enables us to deliver the best Windows 10 experience possible. We are committed to delivering industry leading privacy protection for our customers..." What does this even mean? Nothing. Like I said, if you believe any of this BS, then I've got a bridge to sell you.
Now look at how deeply Microsoft really cares about your privacy (bold to highlight what it collects):
“Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.”
“...use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing.”
“If you open a file, we may collect information about the file, the application used to open the file, and how long it takes any use [of]it for purposes such as improving performance, or [if you]enter text, we may collect typed characters, we may collect typed characters and use them for purposes such as improving autocomplete and spell check features.”
And trust me, when Microsoft says “we may”, it means “we will”. When it says “purposes such as...”, it means for any purpose, such as to sell your information to the highest bidder, to blackmail you, to share your hernia photos around the office for a good laugh, or give in to continued secret and illegal government spying (the Fourth Amendment is only for those local yokel cops, apparently).
I've also saved the best for last. If you're a fellow lawyer, listen up.
Lawyers handle clients' really sensitive business. That's why lawyers are ethically bound to keep clients' information secret.
But, if Microsoft can see every key stroke I'm typing, it can tell what legal strategies are being formulated in my head as I'm drafting a legal document. Microsoft is looking at the dollar figures I'm discussing with my clients. Microsoft is looking at evidence that might prove serious guilt or liability.
Thus, it is exactly the same as Microsoft sending over a guy who is looking over my shoulder 24/7. Really, stop. Let that sink in for a few seconds.
So, if my clients never agreed to allowing a total stranger (with a bad track record to begin with) look at all their highly confidential stuff and all of my highly privileged attorney work product, then what business does Microsoft have sneaking into every key stroke and every file of mine?
We are not dealing with abstract, philosophical discussions about the right to privacy. We are talking about a species – humans – whose society requires secrecy to function. That's why we don't tell the public about how much money we have in the bank, what medical issues lurk behind our smiles, our personal complaints about a boss or a judge, or how we want to pursue litigation. For Microsoft to eliminate that is to flout a fundamental human need, and that is why nobody should use Windows 10.