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MICROSOFT IS UP to its old tricks again, sneaking in some cheeky telemetry software with an update.

Users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 have once again been greeted this month with a ‘security only’ update rollup which actually hides some telemetry spyware within, designed to allow Microsoft to keep tabs on your usage.

What’s particularly annoying about this is Microsoft claimed during the last rollout in July that the telemetry software was there to make the end-of-life experience for Windows 7 users, who will see their operating system breathe its last this coming January, a bit easier.

Thing is, including Windows 8.1 in that completely belies that point. It’s not due to reach EoL until 2023.

‘Security Only’ updates are a user-choice designed to stop exactly this sort of nonsense. It’s for people that just want to protect their PCs without any Microsoft sass. So that’s gone well, hasn’t it? This is of course in addition to the existing telemetry in Windows 10, already ruled illegal in the Netherlands.

The official line on the subject from Microsoft has been [cue tumbleweed] though the inside track is that it’s all about the EoL, which we’ve pretty much established, it isn’t.

Indeed, since the launch of Windows 10, its predecessor has had very little of anything out of Microsoft – it’s just sitting, waiting to reach EoL itself, except that’s in over three years time.

If you want to see if you’ve ended up with the telemetry on your machine, check your Task Manager for the processes ProgramDataUpdater, Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser, and AitAgent. Officially, there’s no telemetry, but multiple teardowns have reported that its exactly what it is.

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As ever these days, the biggest problem is Microsoft’s seeming inability to be straight with customers. We’d probably have a lot more respect if they just said: “we’re adding this, is that ok?”.

It’s the whole “we know what’s good for you” mantra which has silently emanated from Redmond in recent years, that has frustrated us, and frustrates us, still. μ

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