Lately I’ve been studying PowerShell and found out there are a lot more things available in PowerShell in Windows 8.1 than there are in Windows 7, so I reluctantly partitioned my hard drive and installed an instance of Windows 8.1. I had seen and played with Windows 8 when it first came out and absolutely hated it. The whole thing felt like it was specifically designed for tablets. I felt like the target audience was the largely tech illiterate masses who don’t really do much on a computer besides watch Netflix, check Facebook, or play casual puzzle games. As someone who likes to play with technology, who still uses a mouse and keyboard, who doesn’t want someone else to “just do it for me,” Windows 8 really wasn’t for me.
I installed Windows 8.1 and opened up the “modern” metro tiles interface. It was already populated with corporate news sources I wasn’t interested in, and prominently displaying a large store tile, with smaller advertising tiles. It’s then I realized what Microsoft’s strategy for coming operating systems will be: Windows 8, and future Microsoft operating systems are and will be advertising platforms.
Amazon had a similar idea with their Kindle Fire products. Yes, it was an ebook reader, but that wasn’t the point. The point of the Kindle Fire was to get people on a dedicated Amazon device and make buying more products from Amazon as easy as possible. Amazon subsidized the Kindle Fire and sold it at a loss because they knew they could recuperate that money with all the subsequent purchases people would make once they had a device locked into the Amazon ecosystem.
Microsoft is doing the same thing with their new operating systems. They can give the operating system away for free because it then gets people in their ecosystem, where they can then push advertising on them and get them to make purchases.
Anonymity is the arch enemy of two forces: Government and Marketing. Government wants to know everything about you so it can know if you’re a dissident/threat and oppress you. Marketers want to know everything about you so they can sell you shit. Tracking everything you do on your computer serves both purposes. (Which is incidentally why you see government and corporations cooperating on mass surveillance.)
Windows 8.1 initially let me log in without a Microsoft connected account, but the moment I tried to download any apps it asked me to sign in. It wouldn’t let me continue to download anything from the apps store unless I did. Once I did, it then wouldn’t let me log into my own computer unless I was using my Microsoft Online account. This way Microsoft can track who is using the computer and what I do on it so they can generate an advertising profile. Everything you do online with companies is tracked to try and create an advertising profile. They want to know what your interests are, you demographics, what you do for a living, any information they can get to build a better profile of who you are and what adds they can target to you.
Facebook is the king of this. That’s why facebook is free. All the information you give them (voluntarily!) is sold to advertisers so they can create targeted ads. (And it’s also made searchable and saved forever for the government to use to narrow down dissidents and use retroactively in court should they decide your views don’t match those of the party’s.)
Google does the same with your searches. What you search for tells a lot about what you’re interested in and what you might want to buy. But I digress. Point is, every big company does it, and now Microsoft is bringing the same tactics to your operating system. I even opened a tile to check the weather on my computer and it popped up with an advertisement in the corner. I tried to download a game, and it asked if I wanted to connect a credit card to my account so I could make in app purchases. The consumers are cash cows to be milked in any way possible.
I find this all particularly horrible because I fucking hate marketing. I feel like marketing is becoming ever more intrusive in our daily lives. Everywhere you go, people are trying to sell you shit. The more you tune it out, the more aggressive marketers become. They demand your attention. They will put their ads anywhere they can to try and pop up in your face and make you see them, all to plant the idea of their product in the back of your mind when you go to the store to shop. Inside your home could at least be a sanctuary, free from others trying to push shit on you. Your local computer is an extension of your home. It’s your space. Sure, if you ventured out onto the internet you would see ads, but now Microsoft is bringing adds down and into your local computer.
The solution is obviously not to use Windows anymore. Linux is a free and opensource solution, so is FreeBSD, though probably not something the tech illiterate/lazy will pursue. The problem is, Microsoft is leaning on hardware manufactures to put in firmware checks that will prevent people from installing different operating systems. If you don’t want to read the article, what it basically means is that when you start a new computer, it can check for “approved” operating systems. If the operating system you’re trying to use is not approved by the corporation, then the computer you purchased will not work. This would force you to use Microsoft’s ecosystem and thus be in their environment where they can push their ads and products on you.
It looks like Microsoft is moving towards being a closed ecosystem the way Apple is. When you buy an Apple product, you are buying into the Apple universe and the Apple way of doing things. You can only use Apple approved products with your Apple product, and can only download and use Apple approved software. You can also only acquire Apple approved media through the Apple approved media store.
So much for freedom.