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The Curse of the Living Windows - page 2

Windows Wants Your Private Spaces

  • August 18, 2009
  • By Emery Fletcher
I told him, he gave me the numbers, and by the end we were chatting like friends. On a line that his bosses were surely monitoring I didn't want ask him whether he personally was a fan or a user of Linux (several of the techs at my dialup ISP were), but I have a hunch I got a lot better treatment than I would have if I'd been just Joe Windowsuser.

I've been happily surfing and downloading for the past few days now, so it wasn't until this morning that I decided to examine the physical adware that was packaged with the modem. I put the CD in my isolated Windows XP box and played along with the instructions until it said indignantly, "You have no cable for an internet connection" (or words to that effect). Okay, no more fun there, what does the brochure say?

"Features & Services of Qwest by Windows Live" is the title, and the big feature is Windows Live One Care. It's a little hard to read, because practically every capitalized word in the whole brochure has a trademark superscript above it (they want to make sure you know they own everything they say). I've got to quote it exactly, or you'll think I'm lying just to make Windows look bad. I can't help making a few asides, though:

Getting a Piece of that Gullible Action

"In one convenient package, Windows Live One Care helps protect
(HELPS protect -- no guarantee there, just a bit of assistance)
against viruses, spyware, hackers, and other unwanted intruders,
(wanted intruders are welcome?)
uses its optimization features to help
(HELP again)
keep your PC running at its speediest, and even regularly backs up your important files.
(Where? In a secret vault just outside Manila?)
Windows Live One Care is always on
(Resistance is futile!)
and constantly advises you of the status of your PC's health..."

Gosh, what an opportunity! All I have to sacrifice to have this ISP is a few dollars a month and free access to anything whatsoever that I have entrusted to my OWN, PERSONAL, PRIVATE computer! This isn't me going on the web to play in Pornoworld, this is inviting Microsneak to crawl right down my program stack every time I turn on my computer!

Okay, you do have to download that program from their site, so it is in a sense optional, unlike the simpler Quick Care that monitors only your connection and is installed automatically, no matter what. But then, Microsoft has always warned that it is only gullible, uninformed users who make their Windows computers so vulnerable, because users will download any outrageous scam that offers something that sounds good. I guess they figured they might as well get in on that action themselves.

At the cost of one tech help phone call and my Linux OS I had managed to bypass all that stuff. If I have one regret, it's that my little old Windows box, which I've had for nearly six years, must feel neglected. I can tell -- it blinks sadly at me as it boots up, not the cheerful winking it used to greet me with as we sprang into dialup action together battling timeouts and 676 errors to fight our way into cyberspace. But it will remain the custodian and co-author of my two unpublished novels and a raft of short works, which I will keep safely stored far from the prying apps of the Windows Wehrmacht.

Maybe for its sixth birthday I'll double boot it with some exotic Linux distro. Let's see...

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