100 Days Without Windows

I first became a Windows user in 1991.  Prior to which, my operating systems were Unix-based but, getting a job in the corporate world meant I had to bite the bullet and embrace Windows.

I've gone through literally every release of Windows since then, culminating late last year in, and against my better judgement (although that would have mattered not), the installation-upgrade of the latest offering: Windows 10.

Let's be fair - this first iteration of Windows 10 is really beta software.  Most of the touted features either don't exist at all, or aren't fully implemented.  Microsoft got, literally, the world's largest free-beta distribution program for their latest platform offering.

And I hate it.  So, so much.  It is the worst OS product, (and Microsoft has firmly and successfully established a robust history of releasing some real turds), I have ever experienced in more than 35 years as a PC enthusiast.

Instead of iterating through it's faults, like spyware, embedded adware, key-logging and an absolutely draconian privacy policy, I'll let you google it out.

Ah-hah!  You exclaim!  Microsoft is no different from Google in terms of it's (ab)use of user data!  Nothing is private in the Google-sphere, or in Apple's iVerse, so why should all this hate be sent Microsoft's way for basically doing the same thing?

Simple.  I chose to open a Google account knowing full well I was the product and not the customer.  I chose Windows 10 because I believed that I could toggle user settings in one of two control panels and disable the spyware.  I was so wrong.

Windows 10 relies heavily on telemetry to track your usage habits.  And, even if you're an Enterprise user, (Which allows you to disable telemetry because you don't want to piss-off your corporate customer base!), you still can't disable telemetry at the application level.

There's literally hundreds of blog articles that explain how to disable all the malware that is Windows 10.  Feel free to peruse them and draw your own conclusions.  I, on the other hand, had a better solution.

On my home network, I currently have the following machines:

  • Ubuntu 16.04 Gnome as my daily machine
  • Mint 17 on my work laptop
  • Mint 17 on my programming laptop
  • Ubuntu 16.04 Server on a test node I use for work
  • Ubuntu 14.04 Server on a Dell 390 I use for database services
  • 2 Raspberry Pi KODI Boxes
  • 3 Raspberry Pi Debian Boxes for various lan tasks and Arduino programming
  • 1 Windows 10 box for games
  • Pixel-C Android tablet
  • Chromebook
  • Samsung Android tablet
  • iPhone 4s (geh) (Will be replaced next month w/Turing Phone!)
  • Kindle
  • 5 ASIC Bitcoin miners

As you can see, I have a variety of operating systems and devices.  Prior to Windows 10, I had Windows 7 Pro installed on my gaming PC and it was a daily-use machine.  I skipped Windows 8 because, well, it was Windows 8.  I decided to try the upgrade to Window 10, which admittedly went smoothly, and spent the next day removing permissions to all sorts of privacy-violating crap that had been enabled by default.  Plus getting rid of those hideous tiles in the Start menu.

Then I just started encountering a string of events that led me to the ultimate solution of how-to successfully manage a Windows 10 box.  I'll save the whining and crying and just tell you of the final straw.

I use Chrome as my go-to browser.  Mainly because I do development, and the developer tools in Chrome are amazeballs.  Also, I love the cross-platform browser syncing feature of Chrome. 

I was doing something on the W10 box, where I had to do an online registration or something.  Normally, I don't use Windows, on any release, to browse the web.  Experience has shown that Windows platforms are notoriously insecure and literally any script-kiddy can crack a Windows box using a recipe and flash.

Under the "new and improved security" touted for W10, I was using Chrome to hit a few well-known and clean sites.  Such as google.  Well, pretty much just google.   Anyway, I was running some application, I think updating a graphics driver, and the registration process opened a browser -  which, of course was Edge.

Now, I've never, ever, ever, liked Outlook.  Even when it was better than Netscape.  And by the time IE had evolved to version 6, my dislike had evolved into pure loathing.  (Ask any web developer what they think of IE6...) 

So, I start thinking that I was pretty sure I had set my default browser over to Chrome.  I killed the Edge browser and flipped over to Chrome to check the settings and, nope, it was not the default.  I clicked to set Chrome to the default browser and got a notification:

"A system problem has prevented this action.  Default browser has been set to Edge."  

(Paraphrasing.)

Anyone, everyone, familiar with Linux knows that everything is logged.  Better still, Linux doesn't restrict your access to logs.  So, if a system problem occurs, chasing it down is pretty easy.  

Every try to do that with Windows?  Let me save you some time - don't bother.  Microsoft doesn't want you casually browsing your own internals.

Best I could figure out is that the system problem that prevented me from selecting Chrome as my default browser was that I was selecting Chrome as my default browser.

I shut-off the box.

Now, I've been an avid gamer for the same amount of time I've been a PC user.  Not gaming, to me, is like not breathing.  Sure, programming is a helluva lot of fun and it pays the bills.  But ever since Colossal Cave, I've been a huge PC gamer.

I made the decision to do all my gaming on my PS4 (not my Xbox-360) and ordered a copy of Fallout-4 (I already had it on the PC) for the PS4.  Anything that I was doing on Windows, I would have to do on Linux or the PS4, or not do it all.

It was hard at first, I wanted to turn on the box every day for the first few days but I resolutely turned to the PlayStation and, having never been much of a button-masher, slowly started mastering the controller. 

50 days later, I booted up the W10 box because I could no longer remember what it was I was missing in terms of applications.  Grind, grind, grind.  Booting the damn thing took forever as it was force-fed updates.  Almost an hour later, I got the box back but, by that time, I was tired of waiting so I just shut it off again.

After 75 days, I booted up the box because I wanted to transfer any files/documents I had over to my OwnCloud node.  As soon as the copying was done, off went the power.

Yesterday, I realized that it's been more than 100 days since I've used the Windows 10 box.  In terms of hardware, it's a decent machine, too.  Now, I'm only thinking about what I should replace Windows with.  I checked on Amazon to see if I could purchase a copy of Window 7 so that I could upgrade the box from Windows 10, but all of the deals, frankly, looked to shady.

I would actually pay Microsoft the full cost for a Windows 7 installation if they would allow be to back-rev after the 30-day grace...

About the only applications I would really miss would be Clip Studio Paint Pro which I use with a  graphics tablet for sketching and, if I was still using the PC, Steam.   I have a ton of games I've purchased from Steam on this box and I think, now, I can walk away with nary a backward glance.  The PS4 has successfully scratched my gaming itch and I can no longer justify the existence, or need, for a Windows-based machine.

No more networking conflicts.

No more stupid UAE warnings.

No more inexplicable refusals to do what I need done.

No more OS obfuscation.

No more spying.

No more Windows.

Moving on, moving forward, life can only get better from this point.

I think I'll install Tails OS....