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Viewing the Cloud Through Windows

By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on October 13, 2015

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past few years, you’re well versed in the impending growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). We all know that there is a rapidly growing number of devices reporting in via the Internet. However, it’s funny to see people’s reactions when it’s one of their own devices that is phoning home.

Microsoft Windows 10 was released not long ago and Microsoft immediately started pushing it out to devices all over the world. Not long after that, Ars Technica published an investigation stating, “An Ars Technica investigation found Windows computers sending data back to Microsoft servers even after services like Cortana and OneDrive had been disabled, in one case even sending back a message as soon as users hit the Start button.”

This is a big change for Microsoft, who was one of the last big tech companies that built self-contained software. Google and Apple have already created operating systems and software that regularly phones home.

Microsoft was quick to respond to Ars Technica, "As part of delivering Windows 10 as a service, updates may be delivered to provide ongoing new features to Bing search, such as new visual layouts, styles and search code. No query or search usage data is sent to Microsoft, in accordance with the customer's chosen privacy settings. This also applies to searching offline for items such as apps, files and settings on the device."

Even though most of the data is fully anonymized, some people are still concerned.

The reality though is that if people expect advanced queries and processing, the machines are going to have to call for help to complete many of these complex tasks. Google’s software regularly calls home to do things like query the search engine to answer questions, and Chromebooks regularly give data back to Google.

Apple also ran into this with Yosemite. Its Spotlight Search function queried Apple’s computers to get answers.

The reality is Windows 10, along with Apple and Google operating systems, will need access to their company servers in order to accomplish complex tasks. These devices will end up being another example of devices that are part of the Internet of Things that regularly call home.

As more servers continue to do this, how much will the server location impact performance? As we rely more on Microsoft, Google, Apple, and many other companies to provide us data, will we need to have the servers closer to population centers in order to provide adequate performance? If a process requires multiple servers and one of them only exists on the other side of the world, are we willing to wait to get the answers we need?

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