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posted by janrinok on Tuesday February 27, @01:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the Windows-as-a-boot-sector-virus dept.

Ars has a story containing tips and tricks for making Microsoft leave you alone while you use your PC in Windows 11. To wit:

I've written before about my nostalgia for the Windows XP- or Windows 7-era "clean install," when you could substantially improve any given pre-made PC merely by taking an official direct-from-Microsoft Windows install disk and blowing away the factory install, ridding yourself of 60-day antivirus trials, WildTangent games, outdated drivers, and whatever other software your PC maker threw on it to help subsidize its cost.

You can still do that with Windows 11—in fact, it's considerably easier than it was in those '00s versions of Windows, with multiple official Microsoft-sanctioned ways to download and create an install disk, something you used to need to acquire on your own. But the resulting Windows installation is a lot less "clean" than it used to be, given the continual creep of new Microsoft apps and services into more and more parts of the core Windows experience. [...]

[T]his [article] is not a guide about creating a minimally stripped-down, telemetry-free version of Windows that removes anything other than what Microsoft allows you to remove ... but [one that demonstrates how to] remov[e] built-in Windows components can cause unexpected compatibility and security problems...."

I am a long-time macOS user, and willingly pay the hefty Apple "tax" to use it because macOS behaves itself, but I am forced to use Windows 11 at work and I hate it for many of the reasons outlined in this article. Windows, like DOS before it decades ago, has become a boot-sector virus. Windows delenda est!


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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by julian on Tuesday February 27, @01:38AM (18 children)

    by julian (6003) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @01:38AM (#1346416)

    I mostly use Linux these days but when I must use Windows I use a version of Windows 10 called, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC. It will never receive any feature upgrades or changes, only bug fixes and security updates until 2032. If you want to get a copy, they're easily found on Archive.org. Then you can activate it with an open source tool [github.com] that runs from Powershell.

    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Tuesday February 27, @01:45AM (3 children)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday February 27, @01:45AM (#1346419)

      Is this 32-bit or 64-bit, and how much RAM does it support?

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by julian on Tuesday February 27, @02:01AM

        by julian (6003) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @02:01AM (#1346422)

        I believe there are both 32 and 64 bit versions available. The 64 bit version should support the same amount as all the other Enterprise versions which is 6TB. I'm running 32GB right now and I know it'll do at least 64GB.

      • (Score: 2) by epitaxial on Tuesday February 27, @05:44PM (1 child)

        by epitaxial (3165) on Tuesday February 27, @05:44PM (#1346493)

        Who is still using a 32 bit processor these days? The 64 bit Core series came out in 2006!

        • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Tuesday February 27, @06:31PM

          by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday February 27, @06:31PM (#1346500)

          Some of the Windows OS versions targeted at embedded or smaller systems come in a 32-bit option [engadget.com], but that's probably gone away within the last few years.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by mhajicek on Tuesday February 27, @01:47AM (8 children)

      by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday February 27, @01:47AM (#1346420)

      I would use Linux if I could find a distro that would efficiently and reliably run Windows based CADCAM software (Mastercam, Solidworks, Esprit, etc.) without having to run Windows in a VM (defeating the purpose).

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday February 27, @02:52AM

        by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday February 27, @02:52AM (#1346424)

        The newest top of the line hardware is expensive, but if you hang on to some older PCs, you can dedicate the use of the fancy machine running Windows 11 for SolidWorks, etc., and the lesser machine running Linux, older Windows, Hackintosh, whatever else, for everything else you need.

        Or, you might be able to run a hypervisor and run Windows 11 for CADCAM, and also run Linux. Not sure if the CADCAM stuff would be okay with being in a VM though, but most recent CPUs have good enough hardware virtualization that it should work. IE, would Windows know it's running on a hypervisor?

      • (Score: 2) by julian on Tuesday February 27, @03:03AM

        by julian (6003) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @03:03AM (#1346428)

        Yes, if you're using commercial CAD tools then Windows is still probably the best operating system, and really the only choice if you're using them professionally. I just dabble in 3D printing, so Blender and some other open source tools work fine for me, which happily run natively on Linux.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday February 27, @03:11AM (3 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday February 27, @03:11AM (#1346430)

        If your CAD/CAM runs acceptably well in VirtualBox, I'd go at it that way... open the box just for things that must have it, but otherwise live clean. Keeping Windows "in a box" is also a good way to cut off network connectivity when you 'doze apps don't need it - you can still run a browser in Linux and copy-paste or transfer files in and out of the VM...

        --
        🌻🌻 [google.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27, @03:45AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27, @03:45AM (#1346434)
          Yeah put the data on a different drive/share (that's not affected by reverts). If anything goes wrong, revert to snapshot.

          Network host only or via VBox NAT, so not really exposed.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mhajicek on Tuesday February 27, @08:21AM (1 child)

          by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday February 27, @08:21AM (#1346457)

          I strongly suspect that somehow their DRM schemes wouldn't work that way, or at least would require significant knowledgeable futzing.

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
          • (Score: 2) by corey on Wednesday February 28, @08:52PM

            by corey (2202) on Wednesday February 28, @08:52PM (#1346706)

            Yeah I hear this suggestion a bit (windows in a virtual machine), but how does activation and licensing work?

      • (Score: 2) by jman on Wednesday February 28, @03:28PM

        by jman (6085) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 28, @03:28PM (#1346649) Homepage

        Yeah, I got a super-inexpensive SolidWorks license via iFixit, but didn't realize it was WinDoze only. Took a bit but they canceled the subscription.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by corey on Wednesday February 28, @08:37PM

        by corey (2202) on Wednesday February 28, @08:37PM (#1346705)

        In the same. I’d buy a MacBook tomorrow if I could efficiently run Altium and Keysight ADS on it.

    • (Score: 2) by mendax on Tuesday February 27, @06:27AM (3 children)

      by mendax (2840) on Tuesday February 27, @06:27AM (#1346444)

      Gotta love piracy! And you can let the Chinese or the Russians know what's going on your life to boot!

      --
      It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rich on Tuesday February 27, @10:53AM (2 children)

        by Rich (945) on Tuesday February 27, @10:53AM (#1346470) Journal

        You're not letting the Chinese or the Russians know what's going on, but Microsoft! Github is a Microsoft service. That "massgrave" repo looks well done and it's been there since half a year or so. Microsoft absolutely know that it's there and they tolerate it to break antitrust laws by dumping their goods below cost on those who'd otherwise strengthen the competition. As in the old days, a "pirated" Windows is better than a Linux install.

        And with that MS "pirate" service, I'd wager they not only tolerate the independent use of LTSC, but they also pull statistics from it to judge how fed up users are with the ongoing Windows enshittification and how many are willing to resort to this ...grey-area stuff.

        All these images come with checksums. The Chinese and Russians will not get any more information out of it than out of a regular Windows install that's been treated by their moles in Redmond. Rather less, because the IoT LTSC versions don't send about every keypress to the world.

        • (Score: 2) by mendax on Wednesday February 28, @07:58AM (1 child)

          by mendax (2840) on Wednesday February 28, @07:58AM (#1346611)

          All these images come with checksums.

          And you think well-funded government hackers can't get around those?

          --
          It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by Rich on Wednesday February 28, @10:13AM

            by Rich (945) on Wednesday February 28, @10:13AM (#1346621) Journal

            Not for any practical purposes on a large scale. The checksums are SHA256. so they can't corrupt the files in general (unless they have a working quantum computer, and then we'd have other problems). Of course they can pwn both the image and the checksum repo and inject properly checksummed malware. But that's for tailored access only, if done at a large scale they'd be caught.

            The Chinese get their intelligence through subsidized mobile phones who phone home for cloud and updates in an uncontrollable way. And Tik Tok. And the Russians use classic post-install Windows holes. Neither of them will broadly spread advanced malware through THIS repo. You may get bad Windows images elsewhere, but that's small time criminals who SEO a few downloads that come with their affiliate Bonzi Buddy pre-installed for revenue.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday February 27, @02:52PM

      by Freeman (732) on Tuesday February 27, @02:52PM (#1346479) Journal

      At best that's a grey area and at worst, more like pirating Windows. It's an interesting thing though.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by shellsterdude on Tuesday February 27, @01:54AM (1 child)

    by shellsterdude (11969) on Tuesday February 27, @01:54AM (#1346421)

    First, you'll want to checkout Shutup10++: https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10 [oo-software.com] It'll help you remove a bunch of the spyware.
    They also have a tool to remove all the trial crap: https://www.oo-software.com/en/ooappbuster [oo-software.com]

    • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Tuesday February 27, @07:17PM

      by crafoo (6639) on Tuesday February 27, @07:17PM (#1346514)

      thanks, seems very useful.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ElizabethGreene on Tuesday February 27, @02:46AM (5 children)

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @02:46AM (#1346423) Journal

    These are getting better. They used to tell you to remove the Windows Firewall and antivirus software. :|

    I'd add one thing to the list. Bring back the old right-click menu on the Explorer. [microsoft.com] This is a hill I'm willing to die on. Terrible decision in redesigning that, IMHO.

    There has been some "constructive criticism" in this regard, and the insider preview version just added back text labels for the idiomatic pictographs for cut, copy, and paste. I still hate it.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by turgid on Tuesday February 27, @10:25AM (4 children)

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @10:25AM (#1346468) Journal

      It's pretty telling that one of the world's major "tech" companies spends so much time and effort tweaking and arguing about GUI details. I despair.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by janrinok on Tuesday February 27, @10:30AM

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @10:30AM (#1346469) Journal

        I think that they have run out of useful ideas about how to improve their product - but they really have thousands of options there!

        Fixing things doesn't make the user see the improvements and therefore the users cannot be persuaded to spend their money updating their software.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Snotnose on Tuesday February 27, @02:25PM (2 children)

        by Snotnose (1623) on Tuesday February 27, @02:25PM (#1346476)

        I'm fine with them discussing and tweaking the fine details of the GUI, that's how things get better.

        What I don't like are some of the brain dead decisions Microsoft makes. Disappearing scroll bars? Brain dead. Turning common items like copy and rename into easily missed icons with no warning? Brain dead. Low contrast color schemes (e.g. light blue on a gray background)? Brain dead.

        --
        Why shouldn't we judge a book by it's cover? It's got the author, title, and a summary of what the book's about.
        • (Score: 4, Touché) by Gaaark on Tuesday February 27, @02:46PM

          by Gaaark (41) on Tuesday February 27, @02:46PM (#1346478) Journal

          Windows? Brain dead.

          --
          --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by corey on Wednesday February 28, @09:07PM

          by corey (2202) on Wednesday February 28, @09:07PM (#1346712)

          What shits me* is how on Office 365 (use at work) has all these pop up tips on the latest feature every time I open something, and I have to click the “got it” button. And they made Teams have a separate, independently installed “New” version which it would nag me about over and over until I toggled the “try the new teams “ slider. And outlook has the same now. If you make a new version of software, your increment the version number. I thought Microsoft knew that.

          * Windows for me is pretty out-of-the-way since I use ShutUp10 and disable heaps of superfluous stuff already.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday February 27, @03:07AM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday February 27, @03:07AM (#1346429)

    Back in the day, I bought a new Windows ME laptop out of FUD (well founded, it turned out) that my thousands of dollars worth of various software packages that I had collected over the 95-98 years would no longer work on XP.

    I spent the better part of two days ripping the ME-ness out of the new OS and had it back to a pretty good Windows 98-ish system. It was actually the best laptop we had to-date after I got done de-featuring ME.

    Unrelated: until we stuck in a PCMCIA WiFi client card. It ran like a champ with great battery life for over a year, but WiFi was just too cool to not have, so we bought the accessory card, plugged it in, it worked as expected _except_ it completely trashed the battery management system - within a month the battery went from "like new" to a useless brick. We continued to run that laptop plug-in only for several years after that, but it wasn't nearly as cool as when it was battery powered - literally: that WiFi card would burn your leg through the bottom of the laptop case, but it did carry the data.

    From about 2014 through 2023, I liked the Ubuntu LTS releases because I could basically install and go. I do have an extensive de-featuring script we run for our Ubuntu based product at work, not unlike what I did to ME, but from the perspective of a single app Kiosk system that just doesn't want most desktop-user oriented features. With Ubuntu One I'm getting a very leery feeling about the future of Canonical, they have a very Trolltech-esque FUD-greed pitch going these days, definitely going to try straight Debian next - might be a bit more work to make it "as I like it" but probably worth it vs escalating work-arounds for packagers' poison pills.

    --
    🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by janrinok on Tuesday February 27, @07:32AM (1 child)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @07:32AM (#1346445) Journal

      With Ubuntu One I'm getting a very leery feeling about the future of Canonical, they have a very Trolltech-esque FUD-greed pitch going these days, definitely going to try straight Debian next

      I have plenty of computers here and I have just switched one of them over from Ubuntu to Debian to see what problems I encounter or changes (if any) I have to make. Of course, almost any linux distro can be brought up to one's own preferred way of working but it is an extra task that I would rather not waste too much time on. Unlike many people here I am entirely happy with systemd (I know, I know, but that is just me....). So I am happy to stay close to what I have (Ubuntu 22.04 LTS with MATE desktop).

      Why doesn't Ubuntu just leave things alone? As an example, I don't want nagging about which software updates I could download if only I subscribe to this plan or that. If you have a software fix then give it to me please, otherwise let me get on with using my computers to do productive things.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday February 27, @01:07PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday February 27, @01:07PM (#1346474)

        >I don't want nagging about which software updates I could download if only I subscribe to this plan or that.

        My fear is that they are going to continue ramping up these "save money by sending us money, have a look at all these affordable subscription plans!" games, which are the exact opposite of my primary value in OSS: no payment plans to decipher, get approved by the organization, maintain accounting of. I perpetually chuckle at my Windoze based colleagues as they explain how they're spending hours and hours on "getting their license issues sorted." Yes, OSS comes with licenses and obligations, but not with paywalls in your tools.

        My perception is that Canonical is inserting itself as a paywall between their users and the security patches that others are creating. I understand the value of their curation and refinement of the "raw" updates from Debian, but they really have taken it one step too far already - if they continue down this path I think my switching will become inevitable. I live in a world of OS updates every 6-10 years, and they are preying on that with this LTS paywall BS - if you want to stop "guaranteeing" that the patches are up to Canonical's standards, fine, let us choose to update at our own risk rather than having to play circumvention or license payment games.

        --
        🌻🌻 [google.com]
  • (Score: 2) by driverless on Tuesday February 27, @08:40AM (1 child)

    by driverless (4770) on Tuesday February 27, @08:40AM (#1346460)

    Lots of sites mention the Shift-F10 trick but but it doesn't work any more in newer crap-drops of Win11, what you have to do now is give your account as no@thankyou.com with any password, Windows will say it's locked, and then you can continue with a local account.

    You're welcome.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday February 27, @03:00PM

      by Freeman (732) on Tuesday February 27, @03:00PM (#1346480) Journal

      There's a couple of options in the mentioned article. One that works for Windows Home and one that works with Windows Pro. It's not as straight forward as it used to be. They're definitely pushing the Microsoft Account for logins.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by pTamok on Tuesday February 27, @03:03PM (4 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Tuesday February 27, @03:03PM (#1346481)

    I support some naïve users that are not supposed to share certain data, so such things like storing things by default on OneDrive, or sending keystrokes off-computer for spelling and/or grammar checks break the rules, but being 'independent sole contractors', they don't have the resources of a large IT department to fall back on. Things like Office365 or online Outlook would not be allowed - but as individuals, they don't have the resources to negotiate special/proper handling of sensitive data by Microsoft. Essentially, they need 'offline PCs', with the traditional office applications (email, word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation software) and some 'special applications'. Unfortunately, they can't use Linux, as they have to use some 'Windows-only' software in addition to the traditional office applications.

    Microsoft are making it really, really hard to comply.

    • (Score: 2) by turgid on Tuesday February 27, @03:57PM (3 children)

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @03:57PM (#1346483) Journal
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by pTamok on Tuesday February 27, @04:17PM (2 children)

        by pTamok (3042) on Tuesday February 27, @04:17PM (#1346486)

        Thanks for the suggestion.

        LibreOffice doesn't have an email client (yeah, I know, Thunderbird), and AFAIK, OneDrive fiddles with paths to make storage in OneDrive the default. Running Windows + applications in offline/disconnected mode is becoming well-nigh impossible.
        I'm surprised European security services are not complaining more about this. The possibilities for (industrial) espionage on a huge scale are just so obvious. I assume a 'fix is in' somewhere to pre-empt complaints.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by canopic jug on Tuesday February 27, @04:50PM (1 child)

          by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @04:50PM (#1346490) Journal

          LibreOffice doesn't have an email client

          Oh that's BS. LibreOffice, and Calligra, have over a half dozen compatible mail clients, including the infamous Thunderbird.

          But other than that, industrial and political espionage is the bread and butter of OneDrive and MSO.

          The way out is to insist on a universal file format, but m$ opposes that and has never supported one and never will. So the only way forward in that direction is the process of abandoning MSO completely, especially the online edition.

          --
          Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
          • (Score: 2, Informative) by pTamok on Tuesday February 27, @09:15PM

            by pTamok (3042) on Tuesday February 27, @09:15PM (#1346543)

            To be clear, LibreOffice has no built-in/integrated email client written by the Document Foundation,

            Obviously, there is more than one separate email client that can be used. I mentioned Thunderbird, and there are others.

            But the issue that many have is that they need to use software that is only available on Windows: there is no equivalent free, or non-free that runs on Linux. A case in point is the use of screen-reading software (like Freedom Scientific's JAWS) which makes Windows pretty accessible for blind and partially-sighted people. The state of such software on Linux is dire. There are plenty of other specialised software packages. And once you have the package, you are forced to use Windows, which is remarkably hard to operate in a privacy-preserving manner.

            There is a lot of niche Windows-only software which is essential to some people, and which forces them down the 'use Windows' path. Its a horrible situation to be in.

  • (Score: 2) by jman on Wednesday February 28, @02:40PM (2 children)

    by jman (6085) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 28, @02:40PM (#1346640) Homepage

    Nice article, thanks for sharing, Janrinok.

    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday February 28, @03:12PM (1 child)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 28, @03:12PM (#1346647) Journal

      The thanks are really due to mendax (2840) - it is his submission, but I will say 'You're welcome' from both of us!

      • (Score: 2) by jman on Wednesday February 28, @06:24PM

        by jman (6085) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 28, @06:24PM (#1346680) Homepage

        My bad, I usually read the daily digest. You're listed as "posted by", and I did not pay attention to link 0!

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