Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First

But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'

Relating to the public

Why should I trust that a company that refuses to give me an option regarding the use of a Ribbon Bar or a traditional "menu + toolbar" setup will give me a "real when it actually counts" choice regarding my privacy?

This question is particularly nagging when I consider that the Ribbon Bar was nothing more than a cheap UI gimmick to boost sales during a bleak-looking sales cycle via the introduction of novelty. My privacy has real (and increasing) monetary value. What's more, there are potentially disastrous legal consequences for Microsoft when it attempts to defend its customers' right to said privacy from its paranoid, power-mad government.

Maybe – just maybe – Microsoft under Nadella is turning over a new leaf. I happen to like Satya Nadella personally, and think he's a mostly decent, honourable guy. Even if so, it will still take years - maybe decades - to rebuild the trust Microsoft has lost, and its handling of these sorts of issues is consistently tone deaf and wrong-headed.

Yes, I said it – Windows 10 is good

Windows 10 is good technology – some of the best that I've had the pleasure of working with. But there is more that matters than just producing good technology. Sadly, for companies in today's tech industry to give more than a cursory consideration to these "more than just the tech" issues, we as end users have to collectively scream really loudly.

Trust, once lost, must be earned. Microsoft, in my view, has demonstrated a pattern of behaviour spanning decades that I think cost it the trust of its partners and customers. It is not merely "water under the bridge" that is washed clean with a new CEO, but an ongoing pattern of stakeholder-hostile behaviours that continue to this day.

It is 2014. Our whole lives are on these computers now. Microsoft's track record shows that if it has made a decision – say, to include spyware in the release version of Windows 10 – then the absolute wrong time to complain is after Windows 10 is launched.

About face

If Microsoft cares at all about its relationship with the people and businesses that buy the software and services it peddles, it'll ditch "mobile first, cloud first" with extreme prejudice. It's time for "security first, privacy first", and it's time for that to be more than just marketing jargon.

We don't want an Xbox that is "always on" and requires cloudy connectivity for basic functionality. We don't want an Office package that streams from the cloud. We don't want to use Azure for our sensitive workloads or data and we aren't remotely keen on having our operating systems "instrumented".

No matter how many billions upon billions of dollars are poured into marketing and astroturfing to convince us all otherwise, the majority of people and businesses actually do care about privacy and do, in fact, want to see theirs preserved.

The Windows 10 technical preview kerfuffle didn't break out of the geekosphere and into the public consciousness. Microsoft may not be so lucky next time, and no scroogled campaign will be able to distract a public already unhappy over gaffes like Windows 8.

Windows 10 isn't about the technology. To be honest, the operating system reached "good enough" with Windows XP, and Windows 7 seems a perfectly acceptable long-term replacement.

The test of Windows 10 isn't in some handful of new features or some crippled franken-Start Menu or some new flavour of lock-in. Windows 10 is about who wears the pants in this relationship. Are we simply to accept whatever Microsoft dictates? Or will Microsoft bow to our needs and desires?

Is the future to be a subscription-driven Redmondian utopia of "mobile first, cloud first"? Or is it to be a pragmatic and customer-focused "security first, privacy first" world? You have until the final code freeze of Windows 10 to make your voice heard and help Microsoft decide. ®

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