12 votes

Windows 10 Ameliorated review

39 comments

  1. [9]
    tindall
    Link
    I seriously hope that people who feel the need to use this - which I do fully understand - also both appreciate the importance of, and contribute material support to, free desktop movements which...

    I seriously hope that people who feel the need to use this - which I do fully understand - also both appreciate the importance of, and contribute material support to, free desktop movements which can help us rid ourselves of any reliance on proprietary operating systems.

    21 votes
    1. [8]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      I 100% agree with the sentiment of your comment. But sadly, some people have to use Windows because of a specific program that's required for work, school or a hobby. If you work in the tech...

      I 100% agree with the sentiment of your comment. But sadly, some people have to use Windows because of a specific program that's required for work, school or a hobby.

      If you work in the tech sector, it's extremely likely that you can get away with using something like Linux as a work OS but for someone like me, who requires Adobe products for my job, you have no choice but to use MacOS or Windows.

      Personally, I went with MacOS because I wanted the Unix underpinnings but Linux was never really an option.

      That said, people should still signal boost and support OSS and keep it in the public conversation.

      12 votes
      1. tindall
        Link Parent
        I'm sorry I didn't make it clear, but I absolutely understand this. I'm not saying "lol why are you even on Windows" but rather, "maybe think about ways you can contribute to solving this problem...

        I 100% agree with the sentiment of your comment. But sadly, some people have to use Windows because of a specific program that's required for work, school or a hobby.

        I'm sorry I didn't make it clear, but I absolutely understand this. I'm not saying "lol why are you even on Windows" but rather, "maybe think about ways you can contribute to solving this problem more permanently".

        9 votes
      2. [6]
        cstby
        Link Parent
        Can we list out some reasons why you would need windows in 2020? I can only think of Adobe products and anti-cheat software for multiplayer games. There have to be other use cases, but I really...

        Can we list out some reasons why you would need windows in 2020? I can only think of Adobe products and anti-cheat software for multiplayer games. There have to be other use cases, but I really don't know what they are.

        1. [4]
          stu2b50
          Link Parent
          A lot them end up just being Adobe-but-for-specific systems Adobe suite Especially video editing But also the rest of it AutoCAD 3D modeling (blender is cool but again some people must use...

          A lot them end up just being Adobe-but-for-specific systems

          • Adobe suite

            • Especially video editing

            • But also the rest of it

          • AutoCAD

          • 3D modeling (blender is cool but again some people must use maya/cinema4d for work)

          • Specific proprietary drivers for old systems

            • CNCs for instance are often very old, and will 100% only support windows for life
          • Video games

            • Proton is cool and all but there's still large swathes that are impractical to play on linux
          • Work

            • Linux is a lot harder for an IT staff to control, and they often will want to do that for work machines, so they can, say, wipe it if it gets stolen or lost
          • People who develop windows GUIs

          • Crusty old software written by scientist

          9 votes
          1. [3]
            tindall
            Link Parent
            I want to second this. Unfortunately, at my current job where we develop software to run on Linux using tools written on Linux or which support Linux natively, we can't use free desktops because...

            Linux is a lot harder for an IT staff to control, and they often will want to do that for work machines, so they can, say, wipe it if it gets stolen or lost

            I want to second this. Unfortunately, at my current job where we develop software to run on Linux using tools written on Linux or which support Linux natively, we can't use free desktops because of HIPAA/HITRUST requirements. (We use Mac OS.)

            Perhaps one day I will create a startup selling ultra-locked-down Linux machines. A partnership with System76 would be a great thing. No capital to do that for a long time, though.

            5 votes
            1. [2]
              RNG
              Link Parent
              Does RHEL Workstation or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop meet HIPAA requirements?

              Does RHEL Workstation or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop meet HIPAA requirements?

              1. tindall
                Link Parent
                The problem is more meeting the HITRUST requirements for constantly-verified FDE, locking workstations when people walk away from them, and such. We can of course configure things like that, but...

                The problem is more meeting the HITRUST requirements for constantly-verified FDE, locking workstations when people walk away from them, and such. We can of course configure things like that, but getting fleet management software that hospitals will accept is a bit harder.

        2. JXM
          Link Parent
          In addition to the software that ~ stu2b50 listed, there's also tons of custom internal business software that runs on Windows and companies just don't want to pay to have it rewritten because it...

          In addition to the software that ~ stu2b50 listed, there's also tons of custom internal business software that runs on Windows and companies just don't want to pay to have it rewritten because it does exactly what they want and does it the way they want it done.

          There are also tons of industry specific software that require certain privacy certifications that you can only get with Windows software (I'm thinking medical but there are probably other industries too like finance).

          1 vote
  2. [18]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    The option I went with personally was to pirate Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC (long-term support channel). I can keep Windows Update enabled and it doesn't come with any bloatware (Candy Crush,...

    The option I went with personally was to pirate Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC (long-term support channel). I can keep Windows Update enabled and it doesn't come with any bloatware (Candy Crush, etc.). In general it seems to be set up exactly who I'd want it. I don't know to what degree the telemetry is disabled, but without my doing anything the Cortana search bar never appeared and web results don't show when I search in the start menu.

    11 votes
    1. [17]
      kimyon
      Link Parent
      On an unrelated note, how has your experience been with LTSC? I've been thinking about switching to it after acquiring a license (it seems like there are ways to do so, especially in the EU) but...

      On an unrelated note, how has your experience been with LTSC? I've been thinking about switching to it after acquiring a license (it seems like there are ways to do so, especially in the EU) but some of the comments I've read has not been very positive. I don't game much, but I do use productivity apps. Have you run into issues where an app doesn't run because LTSC lacks support of necessary features?

      5 votes
      1. [9]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        No. I use LTSC for gaming and I believe it even has DX 12 support. It's worked perfectly in the background without any thought from me. If you know for a fact software you use depends on a Win 10...

        No. I use LTSC for gaming and I believe it even has DX 12 support. It's worked perfectly in the background without any thought from me.

        If you know for a fact software you use depends on a Win 10 patch from the last ~12-18 months then I wouldn't expect it to work on LTSC. But otherwise you're good.

        6 votes
        1. psi
          Link Parent
          Notably, this means Game Pass (for PC) is currently incompatible with LTSC.

          If you know for a fact software you use depends on a Win 10 patch from the last ~12-18 months then I wouldn't expect it to work on LTSC.

          Notably, this means Game Pass (for PC) is currently incompatible with LTSC.

          5 votes
        2. [7]
          kimyon
          Link Parent
          Unfortunately I don't know that. There are only a handful of apps I can't live without though, so I guess I can check if they're compatible. If I can get my hands on a separate machine I can try...

          If you know for a fact software you use depends on a Win 10 patch from the last ~12-18 months then I wouldn't expect it to work on LTSC.

          Unfortunately I don't know that. There are only a handful of apps I can't live without though, so I guess I can check if they're compatible. If I can get my hands on a separate machine I can try it out there, at least that'd scratch my itch. I don't think LTSC is the right long term solution for me, but I'm definitely intrigued by it.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            teaearlgraycold
            Link Parent
            No need for a whole separate machine. You could install it to an external drive as long as you have one fast enough.

            No need for a whole separate machine. You could install it to an external drive as long as you have one fast enough.

            3 votes
            1. kimyon
              Link Parent
              True, but I can find a separate device without any hassle. It's a matter of moving my butt to downstairs. (And then backing that device up etc.)

              True, but I can find a separate device without any hassle. It's a matter of moving my butt to downstairs. (And then backing that device up etc.)

              2 votes
          2. [4]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            It's highly likely that the apps you need, unless specifically cutting-edge and using the latest capabilities of the system, require no specific new (within a year) updates. If they are...

            It's highly likely that the apps you need, unless specifically cutting-edge and using the latest capabilities of the system, require no specific new (within a year) updates. If they are cutting-edge, they usually say so right away.

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              kimyon
              Link Parent
              I mentioned the apps I regularly use on this comment. I think the only things that might cause an issue is, ironically, apps made by Microsoft themselves. Namely Office 365, VSCode and WSL. I'm...

              I mentioned the apps I regularly use on this comment. I think the only things that might cause an issue is, ironically, apps made by Microsoft themselves. Namely Office 365, VSCode and WSL. I'm not sure if they would cause a problem, but if I were to guess what apps might give me a headache, those would be my choices.

              1 vote
              1. [2]
                ThatFanficGuy
                Link Parent
                I'm gonna be of no help to you here, I'm afraid. Yes, they're Microsoft's tools, so they might take care in implementing them across a range of systems... oooor they might twist your arm a little...

                I'm gonna be of no help to you here, I'm afraid. Yes, they're Microsoft's tools, so they might take care in implementing them across a range of systems... oooor they might twist your arm a little and tell you to update to the latest because it's their system etc. etc..

                1 vote
                1. kimyon
                  Link Parent
                  Yep, that's exactly my thinking. Microsoft has a lot of stratification in their products, so my personal Office 365 might not work, but an enterprise version of Office 365 might etc. I'll give...

                  Yep, that's exactly my thinking. Microsoft has a lot of stratification in their products, so my personal Office 365 might not work, but an enterprise version of Office 365 might etc.

                  I'll give this a go on a spare machine when I can dedicate the time and try it without compromising on my workflow. That seems to be the only way to make sure whether LTSC is a viable option for me.

                  Thanks for the conversation!

                  1 vote
      2. [2]
        pseudolobster
        Link Parent
        I'm not who you asked either but I have some experience running Win 10 LTSB 2016 for about three years. I bought a sketchy volume license key off eBay for ten bucks and never really had any issues...

        I'm not who you asked either but I have some experience running Win 10 LTSB 2016 for about three years. I bought a sketchy volume license key off eBay for ten bucks and never really had any issues with it.

        The only two times it was an issue is once my friend wanted me to try Forza and there was no easy way to install it since it was Store only. Then a second time I was developing an app for a client and needed to install some software for some bio-feedback device, I'm going to say it was a heartrate monitor but I'm not sure. It's software was only available as a "universal app" (ps: god, what a misnomer, it's like PlaysForSure, which only existed to make sure your music wouldn't play unless MS says so) I ended up spending a couple hours trying to get Store installed. Eventually it worked but it was an enormous hassle.

        The infrequency of updates and lack of Cortana were great, though when mainstream Windows got a dark theme I was a bit sad that I didn't.

        I would still be running it except I accidentally got a new laptop with a Xeon processor and it came with
        "Windows 10 for Workstations" which apparently enables some Xeon-specific witchcraft and I figured I'd leave it.

        4 votes
        1. kimyon
          Link Parent
          I was thinking of checking eBay for a license key as well. I also found a subreddit in which people sell these stuff for reasonable prices. It looks like people in the EU can also get a license...

          I was thinking of checking eBay for a license key as well. I also found a subreddit in which people sell these stuff for reasonable prices. It looks like people in the EU can also get a license from Microsoft themselves but I read that that could cost about 300 euros, which is steep.

          Games aren't that important for me, and the ones I play I can launch as standalone apps. I do play variety of games as a means to keep my hands busy when I listen to a podcast or something, but if one doesn't work, I'll just play another. I don't think I'll ever need the Store, since my cursory search shows that I can install WSL on LTSC manually without the Store.

          I'm not following the features on the pipeline for Windows that frequently, but I honestly don't care about whatever they might have in store. I like Windows 10 just fine, it's been stable for me. If I can get rid of the junk without compromising on security, that's perfect.

          I'll try to give this a go when I can spare the time and see how it goes. I might write about my experience here if I do so. Thank you for your input!

          2 votes
      3. [5]
        rish
        Link Parent
        Different person. I installed it on my sister's low budget Lenovo laptop. It had Windows 10 OEM pre-installed and was really slow and took ages to even boot. I thought of trying LTSC if it runs...

        Different person.

        I installed it on my sister's low budget Lenovo laptop. It had Windows 10 OEM pre-installed and was really slow and took ages to even boot. I thought of trying LTSC if it runs fine.

        We had only three software that had to be installed and running with zero problems - Office 2016, Molegro Virtual Docker, and Chem Draw. Other software with low priority were Krita, Blender, and Chrome (I sneaked in Firefox too). She is happy with her install.

        3 votes
        1. [4]
          kimyon
          Link Parent
          Thank you for the second opinion! I mainly use Firefox, VSCode, the Office suite (365), Thunderbird, Spotify, and occasionally WSL. I'm also on a private VPN with a customized network adapter....

          Thank you for the second opinion! I mainly use Firefox, VSCode, the Office suite (365), Thunderbird, Spotify, and occasionally WSL. I'm also on a private VPN with a customized network adapter. (This is non-negotiable for me.) I do use other apps as well, but I can live without them. Most of them are Electron based and I can get by just fine using their web versions. (I shouldn't be using Electron apps anyway.) I'll try to give this experiment a go hopefully next weekend. If I the real life permits me and I do it, I might even end up writing up my experience.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            admicos
            Link Parent
            On your list of things, the only thing I'd be worried about is WSL. I am not entirely sure if LTSC is updated enough to support v1, and it most likely won't support v2 for some time.

            On your list of things, the only thing I'd be worried about is WSL. I am not entirely sure if LTSC is updated enough to support v1, and it most likely won't support v2 for some time.

            2 votes
            1. kimyon
              Link Parent
              Assuming I can use WSL 1, I can live with that. I only do basic (albeit relatively important) tasks with WSL.

              Assuming I can use WSL 1, I can live with that. I only do basic (albeit relatively important) tasks with WSL.

              1 vote
            2. teaearlgraycold
              Link Parent
              My LTSC has some form of WSL on it. I don't use it much so I can't say if it works super well.

              My LTSC has some form of WSL on it. I don't use it much so I can't say if it works super well.

              1 vote
  3. [3]
    kimyon
    Link
    I don't know, maybe I'm an outlier but I'd be much more comfortable giving Microsoft even more of my information instead of installing a modified ISO by someone I don't know and has no...

    I don't know, maybe I'm an outlier but I'd be much more comfortable giving Microsoft even more of my information instead of installing a modified ISO by someone I don't know and has no accountability. I'm not saying I'm happy with Microsoft's telemetry practices, but at least I know what I'm signing up for.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      Shneebs
      Link Parent
      Whilst I completely agree with you that I wouldn't want to just download and install a modified ISO, they give you the ability to run through all the steps yourself:...
      • Exemplary

      Whilst I completely agree with you that I wouldn't want to just download and install a modified ISO, they give you the ability to run through all the steps yourself:

      https://ameliorated.info/documentation.html

      So you use a valid ISO downloaded from MS themselves along with the associated security patches, installing with DISM is a perfectly valid thing to do.

      The next stuff to do is run the scripts that they link.

      .batch script - https://git.ameliorated.info/attachments/8bdf2c4c-413b-4155-9379-ee02410464bd

      This all looks pretty standard and nothing nefarious. The only bit I'm not a fan of would be the install of chocolaty because I don't want package management on my home PC (I've used this within production environments so it is safe).

      You don't necessarily need to use chocolaty and you can see it's installing the following packages:

      firefox
      thunderbird
      vlc
      youtube-dl
      7zip
      open-shell
      jpegview
      vcredist-all
      directx
      onlyoffice

      You could grab the above manually.

      The next bit to run is the linux script to remove the Windows Update feature which you can read through here - https://git.ameliorated.info/attachments/b35aa265-cb7d-400d-8a61-de15055d2831

      Doing a quick read of this script also doesn't show anything nefarious and is fairly well written (in terms of plain text english commands and not obfuscating them).

      There's some steps that I don't think you'll need to do, such as Classic Shell, Modify Windows 10 Explorer, Cygwin, but all in all, it seems OK and you don't have to perform a lot of the steps. The anti-telemetry stuff is mainly fixed in the bat file.

      12 votes
      1. kimyon
        Link Parent
        Right, but at that point I'd just ask myself if it's worth it to go through with all of this. I'm clearly not the right audience here, and more power to people who think this is great and useful...

        Right, but at that point I'd just ask myself if it's worth it to go through with all of this. I'm clearly not the right audience here, and more power to people who think this is great and useful -- but if I'm that afraid to use a product of a company, especially if the said product is as fundamental as an operating system, I'd just look for alternatives. Linux is obviously not without its faults, but it's plenty good. If I'm going to fight my operating system and find out different quirks every time I want to do something new (as the video demonstrates), I may as well just support a product with noble ideals.

        I might be wrong on this and I'm happy to be refuted, but I think people vastly underestimate the security implications compared to invasive telemetry. The idea of disabling Windows Update seems insane to me. (The video does say there are ways to install security patches, but it sounds like it requires some work.) I realize it has caused many problems for people but the first rule of every secure computer is having it up to date before anything else. Every security researcher I know and follow say this.

        Nevertheless, I appreciate the detailed response! As you said, the scripts seem well written and easy to understand even for a tech novice like myself. I hope I don't come across as arguing against you, I realize we're both in agreement. I'm just thinking out in the open as to what the incentives might be for people to use stuff like this. (And again, more power to them!)

        3 votes
  4. [2]
    mat
    Link
    So they've removed Windows update. Which essentially makes this a security freeze. Given that Windows is a massive target for the Bad Guys, disabling security updates is.. um.. an interesting...

    So they've removed Windows update. Which essentially makes this a security freeze. Given that Windows is a massive target for the Bad Guys, disabling security updates is.. um.. an interesting decision. Their FAQ says that if you remove admin rights from the default user that will go most of the way to avoiding any security problems as of right now and will even protect against "most foreseeable major future threats" but that sounds.. well, let's go with optimistic and I'm not really a fan of security through wishful thinking as a policy.

    So it's probably safe to use for a couple of months, assuming they haven't inserted any malware of their own or accidentally opened up some shiny new security holes while ripping out other bits. Or perfectly safe for as long as you want provided you maintain a nice air-gap between you and the internet. Personally I would never let a non-fully-updated Windows system anywhere near the internet for any longer than it took to update it.

    Also by removing Cortana, they've killed the search interface into the OS. I love search based interfaces, they're so much faster and more powerful than clicky menus. AME appears to have downgraded the Start menu to something we might find in a decade old operating system.

    Much as it's a nice idea in theory, it doesn't sound like they've done a particularly good job. There must be some kind of software which sits between Windows and the outside world and blackholes all the telemetry, surely? I don't know because I (a) don't care that much and (b) don't run Windows more than a few times a year.

    5 votes
    1. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Windows' default search is pathetically slow. Everything, the app, works a lot better anyway.

      Also by removing Cortana, they've killed the search interface into the OS.

      Windows' default search is pathetically slow. Everything, the app, works a lot better anyway.

      4 votes
  5. weystrom
    Link
    You might be better off using Windows Privacy Dashboard and/or Shutup10. Both use a combination of registry/group policy changes (WPD also contains a firewall filter list) that help combat...

    You might be better off using Windows Privacy Dashboard and/or Shutup10.

    Both use a combination of registry/group policy changes (WPD also contains a firewall filter list) that help combat unwanted Microsoft "features".

    4 votes
  6. [2]
    Whom
    Link
    So I recently discovered I had a Windows partition sitting around that GRUB wasn't detecting, and so I've been using it occasionally for some games with anticheats or whatever that keep them from...

    So I recently discovered I had a Windows partition sitting around that GRUB wasn't detecting, and so I've been using it occasionally for some games with anticheats or whatever that keep them from running properly in WINE. It's been a pretty awful experience for all the obvious reasons Windows 10 is a slow, bloated, awful, scattered mess. I've just felt like shit keeping it around. So last night after seeing this post, I installed this over my old W10 and have been messing around with it since.

    I won't move back to Windows, since I'm far too in love with Linux at this point, but this returns Windows to a point where it feels usable again. Like Windows 7 levels of bullshit instead of 8 and 10. Manageable bullshit. There's so much less clutter, everything is infinitely snappier, the design mimics classic Windows and I'm not dealing with it resetting my settings every 15 minutes. The telemetry being gone also just makes it feel less icky. From the short period I've used it, hugely recommended to just about anyone who can't leave Windows entirely. It's still a shit OS, but at least this makes it bearable.

    Thanks for posting @cfabbro! Also if anyone has questions about the experience that a not-super-technical user can answer, please feel free to ask.

    4 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Awesome, I was hoping someone would try it out so I could hear their opinion on it! :P I am gradually using WSL 2 more and more these days, so I probably couldn't do this myself given it's based...

      Awesome, I was hoping someone would try it out so I could hear their opinion on it! :P

      I am gradually using WSL 2 more and more these days, so I probably couldn't do this myself given it's based on the old 1903 build, which doesn't include it (although MS has backported WSL 2 to 1903, so it may be possible to have both!). Regardless, at the very least I'm tempted to try to replicate some of the processes from the "Build Yourself" guide to remove all the cruft from Win 10 that I despise (e.g. Cortana). I already installed OldNewExplorer, which they also use in AME, and it's great!

      2 votes
  7. Moonchild
    Link
    I've always thought it would be interesting to run the reactos userland with the windows 10 nt kernel, core drivers, and core libraries (e.g. win32). It should, in principle, give the best...

    I've always thought it would be interesting to run the reactos userland with the windows 10 nt kernel, core drivers, and core libraries (e.g. win32). It should, in principle, give the best possible experience and compatibility of any windows.

    2 votes
  8. cstby
    Link
    As much as I want to love this idea, the review was not very positive..

    As much as I want to love this idea, the review was not very positive..

  9. TildeMan
    Link
    This is cool, but if you're using a CPU that was made after 2008, it has a L0 backdoor built in to the CPU (Intel Management Engine or TrustZone). If your threat model includes being targeted...

    This is cool, but if you're using a CPU that was made after 2008, it has a L0 backdoor built in to the CPU (Intel Management Engine or TrustZone). If your threat model includes being targeted through windows update or other official microsoft channels (as in, not programs that you downloaded yourself), this really won't do much.