With Windows 10 Microsoft fights back to reclaim OS supremacy

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Can Microsoft restart love for Windows?.

Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella (pictured) says the tech giant wants to move from “people needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows”.Starting this week, Microsoft is offering most Windows 7 and Windows 8 users a free upgrade to the software giant’s latest operating system — Windows 10. But there’s a very important security caveat that users should know about before transitioning to the new OS: unless you opt out, Windows 10 will by default share access to your Wi-Fi network with any contacts you may have listed in Outlook and Skype — and, with an opt-in, your Facebook friends! That turned out to be a flaccid affair, leaving many Microsoft users annoyed at the radical overhaul of the layout and, in particular, the decision to ditch the start button menu.

While Apple computers have a huge presence on TV shows and college campuses and at tech start-ups, it’s good to remember that most consumers and businesses are overwhelmingly Windows-based, Bajarin says. I first read about this disaster waiting to happen over at The Register, which noted that Microsoft’s Wi-Fi Sense FAQ seeks to reassure would-be Windows 10 users that the Wi-Fi password will be sent encrypted and stored encrypted — on a Microsoft server. The company says your contacts will only be able to share your network access, and that Wi-Fi Sense will block those users from accessing any other shared resources on your network, including computers, file shares or other devices. But these words of assurance probably ring hollow for anyone who’s been paying attention to security trends over the past few years: given the myriad ways in which social networks and associated applications share and intertwine personal connections and contacts, it’s doubtful that most people are aware of who exactly all of their social network followers really are from one day to the next. “That sounds wise — but we’re not convinced how it will be practically enforced: if a computer is connected to a protected Wi-Fi network, it must know the key. According to research firm IDC, global shipments between April and June reached 337 million units, up nearly 12 per cent on the same quarter last year.

I should point out that Wi-Fi networks which use the centralised 802.1x Wi-Fi authentication — and these are generally tech-savvy large organisations — won’t have their Wi-Fi credentials shared by this new feature. Microsoft’s solution for those concerned requires users to change the name (a.k.a. “SSID”) of their Wi-Fi network to include the text “_optout” somewhere in the network name (for example, “oldnetworknamehere_optout”). Wi-Fi Sense has of course been a part of the latest Windows Phone for some time, yet it’s been less of a concern previously because Windows Phone has nowhere near the market share of mobile devices powered by Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS.

Chief financial officer Amy Hood said the firm was looking to generate revenue by building search and gaming capabilities into the Windows 10 interface. It wants to be the go-to platform where app developers pitch their wares: not simply a home for apps reconfigured from variants built for Apple’s IOS.

And, as The Reg notes, if you personally share your Wi-Fi password with a friend — by telling it to them or perhaps accidentally leaving it on a sticky note on your fridge — and your friend enters the password into his phone, the friends of your friend now have access to the network. For every network you join, you’ll be asked if you want to share it with your friends/social networks.” To my way of reading that, if I’m running Windows 10 in the default configuration and a contact of mine connects to my Wi-Fi network and say yes to sharing, Windows shares access to that network: The contact gets access automatically, because I’m running Windows 10 and we’re social media contacts.

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