The track record of Microsoft since February 2014 and Satya Nadella coming in as top manager and Bill Gates returning part time shows us that that they are making surprising moves. Some now consider Microsoft as disruptive as Google (read disrupting as in introducing life changing technology). This means we may see new behavior from Microsoft. I’m doubtful, but I have hopes.
This change to automatic updates is no small thing. In 2011 the DOD classified any computer hacking of US computers by foreign nationals as an act of war by that nation. They were also setting up how they would evaluate those attacks and decide if they merit a military response. Basically, if there is loss of life, military response in some measure is called for.
Of course, immediately after declaring hacking of US computers by foreign governments an act of war the US government was caught hacking the government computers of allies.
The 12 unclassified pages of the 2011 document also describe how government and private industry will have to work together to protect industry and infrastructure from cyber attacks. I think most informed people understand Microsoft and Apple have people working with the government to secure our computers.
Now that the FCC via Net Neutrality is moving to make the Internet a public utility and handle it like radio broadcasts where they control what can be said and who can say what (for radio transmitters over a certain strength you have to be licensed), any serious attack on the US that causes a loss of life could be used for justifying computers be kept up to date to be allowed on the Internet. Fail to update and it would be like failing to pay the subscription fee on software, which stops working. You would be off the Internet. I suspect your computer could still connect to the Microsoft or Apple store to pay for and get updates.
The recent Chinese attack on the US Government’s Human Resources Dept’s computers took 14 million, if not all, the records of government employees from about 1980 to now. The administration is trying to talk this down. But, this essentially means the Chinese know everyone’s name that has or does work for the CIA, NSA, FBI… etc. Think about that.
The complications that Forbes is pointing out and Microsoft’s silence pose problems for users. To upgrade to software that may soon be controlled to extents never thought acceptable (subscribe or give up your computer)… to lose control of computers we bought and paid for… if we don’t upgrade as a corporation dictates… and soon those corporations may have the government backing their policies and removing our choice… we have seen this scenario before.
Fortunately things move slowly enough we will probably have time to figure out what is going to happen with Windows and decide if an update to 10 is rational or suicidal. Also, things are seldom worst case. As long as Microsoft has to work in the free market they can’t piss us off too much. If the government intervenes then they can do whatever they want.