Windows 8.1 = Spying Machine 8.1

Reviewers of Windwos 8.1 are focussing on the wrong things. Ooh,  quoth the gullible reviewers, due to popular demand, Microsoft brough back the “Start Button”.  Bzzzzzz wrong. More on that later.

The reviewers (the ones that are not mouth-breathing astroturfing Microsoft shills) would have been more wary had Windows 8.1 came with a blinking warning.

“ACTHTUNG! We make your computer covertly report everything you do and send your data (plus, arguably, microphone and web-cam feeds) to the US Government”.

Amazingly, this is not irrational paranoia, it’s all there in the Snowdem documents and the allegations have not been refuted. The EU are drafting new laws to attempt (or seem to attempt) to curtail this American Spying. The diagram below is one of the proofs that Microsoft (and others) cannot be trusted. (PRISM one of the US spying operations implemented by the now-infamous NSA).


There is no way around it. That diagram alone should alert Governments and other organisations worldwide to think extremely carefully about exposing their secrets, communications and data to the risks implicit in using non-open, proprietary operating systems and other software. Like Windows and Mac OS-X for example. These must be treated as suspicious, Trojan Horse computer systems. It is hard to see them that way because they are so familiar and harmless-seeming.

OK, let’s assume that you are happy to have your computer report everything you do to the US Goverment, then what else can we say about Windows 8.1?

That so-called “Start” button – if you click it, brings up a full-screen, flat tiles and icon infested monstrosity. This is bad UI design for desktop and laptop computers in two ways.

The first problem is that the thing is ugly and often difficult to use. The second issue is more subtle. Because this garish UI takes over the entire screen, it instigates something called “context switching” in the mind. Context switching is tiring and causes you to forget what you were doing, because the brain dumps it’s short term the mind’s memory cache to switch to the new interface. This is called the Doorway Effect.

To put it more simply, the “Start” button isn’t a start button at all. It is a “Screen Full of Crap” button masquerading as a “Start” button and, essentially, it is an anti-productivity gimmick.

With all the surveillance and spying going on, you cannot trust Microsoft and you cannot trust Apple and other mega-corps either. So what can you do?

It’s radical, but the only sane way out of the malaise is to use Linux (Linux Mint is good). In recent years Linux has become an incredibly powerful, fast, secure and intuitive system. Yes you have to learn some changes, but then again you would also have to learn even more changes in “Windows 8”, which is completely different from (and worse than) Windows 7. A show-stopper might be that some Windows-specific software might not run, but the same is true of switching to Macs, iPads and Android tablets and they are popular enough. Linux gaffer Linus Torvalds has a zero tolerance of US-Gov back doors used to spy on you and even if he did, such spying back doors would be gleefully detected and eradicated in five picoseconds by the legions of security geeks who work on the (open) source code.

Linux costs $0 because it is free open source software. And, like most operating systems, it doesn’t need a virus checker. Windows, however….

My prediction is that Windows 8.1 will, like Windows 8 before, will be unloved by all but Microsoft fanatics and even some of those are moaning.

Eadon will bring you more geek insanity next week, but meanwhile…


4 comments on “Windows 8.1 = Spying Machine 8.1

  1. Fromunder Cheeseman
    October 19, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Two tin cans and string, anyone? I also have a sh*tload of old encryption software from the 90’s courtesy of the F.I.S.H. (Fleet Internet Security Handbook) from the U.S. Navy for anyone who is interested.

    For anyone interested, too, you might want to know if you have not figured it out already that digital e-books and reading online generally has a near-zero retention rate put against standard dead-tree offerings. That factors relating to the physicality of real books reinforce retention are the key to retention is why MaggotSoft is popping their rivets to introduce tactility and texture to digital pads.

    With any degree of luck it will go the way of Disney’s ill-fated 1990’s-era 30-million dollar IT project to somehow synthesize Mahler’s and others’ modes of composition so that their filmscore-writing teams could be able to have a computer “sample” snippets in an effectual way without human intervention and thus without having to actually hire an ASCAP professional.

  2. James Eadon
    October 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    @Fromunder – Are you sure that the Disney project was ill-fated? Disney haven’t used humans to make their films for years. That is also true of hollywood. Scripts written by computer following a formula. Robotic stars (not even wooden) and crappy CGI galore.
    Coming back to Windows 8.1 – I would like to add to my review that Windows 8.1 has all kinds of horrors: it pukes “Bing” content all over the place including in the “start” screen, such as links to left-wing politics an d so forth. Plus it wants to store your data in the Internet, aka “Cloud”, in Microsoft’s case, a storage system called “Sky drive” – beware what is happening to your data. It aint safe. The OS even nags you to “open an account” – just to use your own computer.

    • Fromunder Cheeseman
      October 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

      Sorry to have drifted off-topic but the point was to emphasise how far off from their core placement and loyalties MicroSoft has drifted as with Disney. Actually Disney Studios keep hundreds if not thousands of small freelance animation studios which work in 2D + 3D to provide the tricky bits which are called interstitials or “in-betweens” which they farm out in bits to firms like with whom I work on occasion. From there once done the CGI folks do their very expensive bit: Disney tried on keeping actor puppeteering motion template archiving but it is cheaper to just re-do the action as character shapes change and therefore linework requirements change.

      It is the same story with their music composition for scores. $30 million bucks spent on what was basically musicological studies put big smiles on otherwise starving academics’ faces though LOL What came out of that work was and is a very interesting huge archive of the best of the best emotive symphonic music I think in the world ever owned by a private corporation: if they hired me as librarian for it I would be fired in a week for doing nothing but sitting in a corner with the headphones playing it full-blast.

      The moral to that story is there is no form to the human heart nor reason in music but to quote Nadia Boulanger in saying work done without joy is nothing. That sums up MicroSoft perfectly. They have lost the plot and wish to robotise not liberate their customer base when liberation of the spirit was that which brought the masses to IT in the first place.


  1. Windows 8.1 = Spying Machine 8.1 | | Cranky Old Crow - October 19, 2013

    […] Windows 8.1 = Spying Machine 8.1 | […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: