Sysadmin Blog Controversy has erupted around Microsoft's Windows 10 preview. More specifically, questions are being raised about the amount of tracking – and the depth of tracking – that was built into the preview.
The Windows 10 technical preview goes so far as to monitor your typing, potentially crossing the line from instrumentation of alpha-level software into creepy corporate surveillance.
Truth be told, I honestly don't think anyone but the extreme nutter fringe had, or has, a problem with being tracked in the preview. When you download the preview it is pretty upfront about the fact that it will monitor everything it can find to monitor.
The problem is that both Microsoft and the US government have lost the trust of the general populace. Discovering borderline technologies incorporated into Windows 10's technical preview (like the built-in keylogger of ultimate controversy) simply serves as a catalyst for concerned citizens to ask the questions that have been bothering them for some time.
How much of this instrumentation will be in the release version? What are the specifics of the type and quantity of data being collected during the preview and – far more critically – what data will our Redmondian overlords be collecting on us in the release version of the operating system?
Can we remove – not merely "disable" – this instrumentation from the release version of the OS? Since we already know the answer to that question is "no", what mechanisms exist for Microsoft to reactivate its instrumentation once we've tried to set it to "disabled"?
What if the NSA reactivates the tracking against the wishes of the user? Can Redmond stop this from happening? Will Microsoft encrypt the information that will inevitably be collected on us so there is the faint hope that the NSA has to at least work for their dinner?
I'm curious to know how my government will cash in on this so that it, too, can "instrument" its citizens. I hear that UK.gov is big into keeping an eye on Brits' online activity, Australia doesn't seem fussed about protecting its citizens and I'm pretty sure that Canada's speech-suppressing Tory dynasty can't be far behind.
Do you find the above too hyperbolic? Some people will ... and some people won't. It's a fact of life that some elements of a modern operating system will be instrumented. Basic things like "what programs are installed" and "what is the hardware configuration of your PC" are generally collected as part of operating system updates and/or automated troubleshooting systems because they provide clear technical benefits in solving technical issues. It would be pretty insane to say "don't collect this info, because NSA".