Configure Windows (10) To Be More Private

After moving across the country for the first time, I've found myself stuck with a gaming laptop that is unable to run even Ubuntu, thanks to proprietary software in the BIOS making it a challenge to do so. In the meantime, I have been working to make Windows 10 into a more tolerable nightmare, since I will be using it for a good while despite my undying hatred for Microsoft. I figured I'd might as well put this small page of tips out there incase anyone is interested in privacy-focused computing without wanting to give up their loyalty to Microsoft's proprietary operating system.

ShutUp10 By O&O Software

Download | ShutUp10 Modifies the registry in your Windows installation to block out any (& all) telemetry from Microsoft by applying the recommended settings. You can also go the extra mile and disable everything from Microphone access to USB ports, but the program warns you that Windows will probably destroy itself in a kernel panic, or applications will just flat out not work.

Browser Options

I wrote an entire page on this, however, the bottom line is just not to use Google Chrome. The two most "normie friendly" browsers I can recommend are Brave and Firefox, but Brave more specifically, as it natively works with all Google Chrome extensions, so switching is easy for a trend follower. I also recommend Firefox if you wish to be fully anti-Google, but be warned that the UI is shit and it is run by a parent organisation which is pretty corrupt these days, though aside from poor design, the browser is generally regarded well by its loyal userbase which I was once a part of myself. I also recommend changing your search engine from Google to something like DuckDuckGo in your browser's settings.

Use An Offline Account

These days, Microsoft essentially begs its users to use Windows 10 with an online-connected Microsoft account. I am sure you do not need me to explain why constantly having your computer making connections to remote Microsoft servers deploying God-knows-what information is a bad thing, but it is not impossible to switch to an offline account from an online one. If you are setting up Windows for the first time, make sure not to connect to the internet so that you may create an offline account. If you connect during the OOBE (setup) screen, it will force you to use an online Microsoft account.

Free/Open-Source Software

A great way to know you are using generally safe software is if the source code is available publicly. I would never, EVER, recommend using a web browser that is not open-source, such as Chrome or Edge, as the source code is not available to view, so nobody will ever truly know if the browser is being shady behind the users back. There are also many open-source software alternatives out there, such as replacing Photoshop with GIMP, Vegas Pro with Shotcut, Sound Recorder with Audacity, ect. It would be wise to look up open-source alternatives before installing a proprietary piece of software.

At the time I am writing this, Windows 11 has just been revealed to the world. It is safe to assume all of these tips will apply to that OS as well, however I will update this page in the future if tweaks need to be made. I hope this little guide helps at least somebody out there get into FOSS and Linux. Lord knows I would not even be using Windows at all if I were able to on this Acer Nitro 5.