We have reached the end of this daily 2-week long series so it’s time to close with some parting thoughts. Before drafting some conclusions on how this whole year has gone, there is just one more topic I have to touch on… and that’s the much dreaded telemetry.
A blog on operating systems, programming languages, testing, build systems, my own software projects and even personal productivity. Specifics include FreeBSD, Linux, Rust, Bazel and EndBASIC.
At its core, I do not think telemetry per se is a bad thing. Anonymous details on how a product is used in the real world—in this case, a product used by literally millions of people—are extremely useful during planning and development. As a developer, I have experienced this at a much smaller scale when working on Blaze (not Bazel), and having details on build performance company-wide was invaluable to plan what we had to improve.
The problems start when telemetry data isn’t anonymous, and what Windows collects at its highest (default) settings may not be. For example, the most-comprehensive telemetry settings enable sending crash dumps to Microsoft and those can definitely include personal information based on the nature of what they are. If privacy is a concern to you, you might want to dial those settings down to the basics.
Other than potential privacy violation issues, what irks me about telemetry is that “improving” a product can mean “removing features”. And I fear that telemetry data could be used to justify removing options like “icons on the left” in the new taskbar as I previously mentioned. But who knows. Telemetry data could also be used to justify keeping this feature as opposed to blindly removing it.
Anyhow. There are other features about modern Windows that concern me much more, and these are the sponsored apps that randomly appear in the Start menu, the attempts to push ads into the desktop, and the constant nagging for attention from both the system and most apps nowadays. These are important issues that could (will?) push me off the platform. Part of my “secret plan” in abandoning macOS has been getting used to how things work outside of a Mac—in particular, keyboard shortcuts—to open the door to using Windows… and also going back to Unix-y open-source desktops if I must.
Leaving these issues aside, I want to clarify that my overall experience over the last year using Windows alone has been on the positive side. I have gotten reasonably productive using the system, I do not miss macOS nor Mac hardware much, and I have gained a FreeBSD NAS on the side. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to have a Mac Studio though 😜.
As I wrap up, I realize I have forgotten to talk about some other interesting topics like how neat Windows Hello is or how Windows Defender impacts day-to-day machine usage. I’ll have to leave those for another time because running this series as a daily publication has been exhausting. What started as a 20-minute long incoherent draft has turned into a 13-post long series that apparently total an hour of reading time. Targeting daily posts was… ambitious, but I wanted to get these out of the way because I have some other unrelated posts in the queue.
Lastly, as I predicted, running this content as a series might not have been the greatest idea from an engagement perspective. Of the 13 posts in total, only one has seen noticeable readership. So if you have a minute and have enjoyed reading these articles, could you help me share them a little bit more? 😊 Here is the summary:
- 2022-03-07: Introduction
- 2022-03-08: Keyboard shortcuts
- 2022-03-09: Input methods
- 2022-03-10: Look'n'feel
- 2022-03-11: Window switching
- 2022-03-12: PowerToys
- 2022-03-13: Miscellaneous tools
- 2022-03-14: Development experience
- 2022-03-15: PowerShell
- 2022-03-16: Networked file systems
- 2022-03-17: System debugging
- 2022-03-18: Software installation
- 2022-03-19: Finale
Thank you for reading!