We mentioned recently that Windows 10 has been designed to keep Microsoft informed about the online habits of its customers. Since then we have found a number of reports (See "Doctors Using Windows 10 Are Likely Violating Federal Privacy Laws" by Dr. Avery Jenkins) that HIPAA covered entities are going to put off upgrading to W10 as long as possible. That could be years, which is how long it usually takes Microsoft to discontinue support for a replaced operating system. There should be no downside, therefore, to sticking with 8 or 8.1, or even 7 for a long while (See Sidebar).
Here is how CNet summarizes the new OS:
Windows 10 is the Goldilocks version of Microsoft's venerable PC operating system -- a "just right" compromise between the familiar dependability of Windows 7, and the forward-looking touchscreen vision of Windows 8. This new Windows, available as a free upgrade for existing non-corporate Windows 7 and 8 users, is built from the ground up to pursue Microsoft's vision of a unified OS that spans all devices without alienating any one platform. It's an attempt to safeguard Microsoft's crumbling software hegemony, assailed on all sides by Google and Apple. And it's a vision of the future as Microsoft sees it, where a single user experience spans every piece of technology we touch. Welcome to "Windows as a service."
A Tale of Two OS's
Windows XP was released on August 24, 2001. Sales ended on June 30, 2008 for PCs but not until October 2010 for netbooks. Support and upgrades continued through April 8, 2014.
Windows 8 became available to the public on October 26, 2012. If it enjoys the same lifespan as XP, HIPAA covered entities may be able to avoid the intrusiveness of Windows 10 until at least 2024.
Amidst all the commotion and uncertainty, several experts have already analyzed Windows 10's privacy intrusions and published workarounds. We found one that only requires a moderate degree of technical expertise. In other words, your IT team can easily handle it but be cautious about allowing anyone else to try without help. The bottom line, it is safe to assume, is that W10 may be found in a few homes so far but not in the office PCs of any healthcare providers. If you are among those who have been enticed by the free upgrade offer, take a look at the following guide and determine for yourself whether the complexity of these instructions fall within your wheelhouse. If they do not, be cautious. Invite one of your office's IT experts to lunch...at your house. Afterward, walk him or her over to your computer and say, "As long as you're here..."
These methods should give you a relatively more private, safe experience, however at the risk of not being able to enjoy some of W10's features.
sc delete DiagTrack
sc delete dmwappushservice
echo "" > C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Diagnosis\ETLLogs\AutoLogger\AutoLogger-Diagtrack-Listener.etl
Open up the Group Policy Editor by launching gpedit.msc as an administrator. Go through Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Data Collection and Preview Builds. Double click Telemetry, hit Disabled, then apply. NOTE: This only truly works in the Enterprise edition, but the final step provides a decent enough workaround for Pro users.
While still in the Group Policy Editor, go through Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > OneDrive, double click Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage, hit Enabled, then apply.
While still in the Group Policy Editor, go through Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender, double click Turn Off Windows Defender, hit Enabled, then apply.
Open up the Registry Editor by launching regedit as an administrator. Go through HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\DataCollection, select AllowTelemetry, change its value to 0, then apply.
First, download the Take Ownership tweak and enable it. Then, head to the Hosts File by going through C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc, take ownership of the hosts file, and add all of the IPs from this page into the file.
Up To You