July 5, 2007

How Much Personal Data Does Windows Vista Collect?

All of it. IP addresses, web-sites visited, computer name, hardware configuration, software configuration, what kinds of files you open, everything. The Windows Vista EULA apparently provides a non-exhaustive list of 47 Vista components that send data to Microsoft. Other components store personal data on your hard drive. Microsoft says it will release these vast troves of data under the following conditions:

if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: (a) comply with the law or legal process served on Microsoft; (b) protect and defend the rights of Microsoft (including enforcement of our agreements); or (c) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, users of Microsoft software or services, or members of the public.

Microsoft has funny ideas about what it means to "protect and defend [its] rights," as has been shown by the recent anti-Linux patent threats. Then there's all the DRM stuff.

Furthermore, it appears that, contrary to Microsoft's PR department, Vista is buggy and insecure, just like previous versions of Windows. I haven't used Ubuntu as I'm a Debian purist (Ubuntu is, I understand, derived from Debian), but a lot of people say that it is quite simple to use. Certainly Linux doesn't suffer from the security and stability problems of Windows (though I don't mean to put on the blinders and claim that Linux is completely problem-free). On the other hand, I've been quite happy with my PowerBook over the last few years, and Apple may be a better option for certain functions (I mostly use my PowerBook for web and email, and mostly use Linux for programming and whatever else), and is probably also a better option for beginners. At any rate, I don't know of any modern operating system that is worse than Microsoft: kudos to their marketing department for making the worst product on the market the most widely used.

Posted by Kenny at July 5, 2007 12:53 PM
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