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Networking Privacy Windows Your Rights Online

How Windows 7 Knows About Your Internet Connection 434

Posted by timothy
from the when-telepathy-fails dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In Windows 7, any time you connect to a network, Windows tells you if you have full internet access or just a local network connection. It also knows if a WiFi access point requires in-browser authentication. How? It turns out, a service automatically requests a file from a Microsoft website every time you connect to any network, and the result of this attempt tells it whether the connection is successful. This feature is useful, but some may have privacy concerns with sending their IP address to Microsoft (which the site logs, according to documentation) every single time they connect to the internet. As it turns out, not only can you disable the service, you can even tell it to check your own server instead."
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How Windows 7 Knows About Your Internet Connection

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  • The relevant bits (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:22PM (#36160640)

    It is possible to disable NCSI by a registry setting if you don’t want Microsoft to be able to check your internet connection.

    * HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\NlaSvc\Parameters\Internet
    * Under the Internet key, double-click EnableActiveProbing, and then in Value data, type: 0.The default for this value is 1. Setting the value to 0 prevents NCSI from connecting to a site on the Internet during checks for connectivity.

    • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:27PM (#36160692) Homepage

      It is possible to disable NCSI by a registry setting if you don’t want Microsoft to be able to check your internet connection.

      * HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\NlaSvc\Parameters\Internet
      * Under the Internet key, double-click EnableActiveProbing, and then in Value data, type: 0.The default for this value is 1. Setting the value to 0 prevents NCSI from connecting to a site on the Internet during checks for connectivity.

      Oh, the user-friendlyness of Windows. Everything is so simple on Windows, while I imagine that on Linux (if it had such a feature), you would need to edit a text file with comments in it. Horrible.

      • by PIBM (588930)

        The hard part is always to find out where you need to change that thing...

        • by clang_jangle (975789) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:47PM (#36160884) Journal
          Because remembering to type "man" in front of the program name to discover what files configure it is just so horribly difficult. And then typing "vim .config", dear lord the TORTURE .!

          Frankly, what CLI phobia tells the world is that *you* think you're an idiot.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Dear lord, please forgive those who use emacs. Not that I am one, but those souls endure so much already...

          • by DrBoumBoum (926687) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @10:08PM (#36161486) Journal
            And then you have to use vi, which is in itself a whole different world of pain. Good luck! ^Z^Z Shit how does this fucker work?! ^C quit exit ESC ** CARRIER LOST%%:.,*$£$$$
          • If youre crying "user friendly" and then talking about Vim, I daresay youre doing it wrong. Vim may be many things, but easy it is not.

            Now if you had said "nano", then you might be on to something.

            • In all fairness, Vi/Vim is VERY easy. Once you've gotten the hang of it, it's all but effortless (unlike EMACS, which, no matter how well you know it, is always an exercise in RSI[0])

              What it's not, though, is intuitive. Which is why you get so many experiences like that one up above. :)

              [0] Oh yeah. I went there.

            • Re:The relevant bits (Score:5, Informative)

              by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @12:14AM (#36162296)
              Son, vi is the VIsual version of ed, the line EDitor. Try editing files with ed for a while and you'll think vi is so user friendly that you'll play first person shooters with hjkl.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        Oh please! I can make that into a little .reg file and go "See this thing? Go clicky clicky and reboot" and its done, period, the end. Just because YOU don't know how to make a .reg file doesn't mean the giant clusterfuck that is Linux CLI (seriously even OS fricking 2 has a solid API by now, having drivers break every time Torlvalds gets a bug up his ass is inexcusable) is in ANY way shape or form comparable.

        I get can have a machine spend years without needing a SINGLE line of CLI, ever. Can YOU do that?

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:14PM (#36161068) Homepage Journal

          Alright, I give up, you win. Linux i indeed a server operating system. And, the primary server I'm interested in is the Xserver. It fits beautifully onto my desktop screen, where I can play games, watch flash video in full screen, listen to music, browse the intartubez, do some serious computing, and read geeknewz.

          WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! LINUX IS A SERVER OS!!!

        • by bennettp (1014215) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:27PM (#36161168) Homepage

          Sound breaks? Bash, Wireless fucks up? Bash. Video problems? Bash. Hell the answer to EVERY question in Linux is bash.

          Life getting you down? Bash.
          Boss riding your ass? Bash.
          Spouse getting on your nerves? Bash.
          Co-worker won't shut up about pet llama? Bash.

          Hell. The answer to EVERYTHING is Bash!

        • CLI vs. Registry (Score:2, Insightful)

          by zooblethorpe (686757)

          Oh please! I can make that into a little .reg file and go "See this thing? Go clicky clicky and reboot" and its done, period, the end. ... Then remove the shell or mod them down so you can NOT use them! I bet the machine won't even make 6 months, and you sure as hell won't be updating the thing, because without CLI Linux falls down like a house of cards.

          While I understand your point, and your frustration about the state of the various GUI environments for Linux, I really don't think that comparing a .reg file (and thus the Windows Registry) against the various Linux shells illustrates the shortcomings you think it does. For one, any CLI script could very well be turned into exactly the kind of clicky clicky executable file you mention -- with the added benefit that a Linux distro probably wouldn't need to be rebooted. Putting your metaphorical shoe on th

        • by 3vi1 (544505) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:33PM (#36161220) Homepage Journal

          >> Oh please! I can make that into a little .reg file and go "See this thing? Go clicky clicky and reboot"

          The fact that you instinctively think such a thing needs a reboot proves how well Windows has conditioned you to accept your Stockholm Syndrome..

          BTW, the people in Linux that are going to the shell are doing power-user stuff (like Windows users who take advantage of powershell). You can get by without it: my kids and my parents have used Linux for years and have never *ever* used the shell. Swear To God (I keep them on stable releases, and there are no viruses to screw up their wireless, video, etc.).

          How many Linux powered devices (ex. Android, Tivo, etc) are there in the world where the user has never touched a shell? Use of a shell all depends on how much you want to bend a system to your will. Microsoft didn't add powershell to Windows because shells are pointless.

          • by tgd (2822)

            Windows, like Linux, almost never actually needs to be rebooted for a setting like that to take place.

            Windows, like Linux, will likely require some service to be restarted.

            Now, it may be more common for someone to just restart the service in Linux, but there aren't a lot of 70 year old grandparents running Linux.

            I know the command line to restart networking on both Windows and Linux. I wouldn't have to reboot either. But it sure as hell is easier to tell my parents to just reboot.

        • Mod Parent FUD. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:33PM (#36161224)

          My Grandma uses Linux. I installed it for her, yes, but I wouldn't expect her to install Windows or any OS for that matter. I didn't have to touch the CLI to install it. I enabled auto-updates, showed her how to "open the Internet", and where the "app store" is. It's been 2 years. She "accidentally" upgraded to the next LTS release by herself, with no CLI -- A single button click...

          My Brother, Uncle & Aunt all use Windows. In the same space of time, They've each gotten infected with malware at least twice, some more than others. Two of them have shelled out cold hard cash for Win7 because "it's more secure than Vista", had to take the computer to a technician to do the "upgrade" for them, and both of them have been infected with malware on for Win7.

          Grandma tried to use my Uncle's computer -- She said, "Can you make the mouse less shaky, dear, I have shaky hands and I end up making the files disappear" (she means accidentally dragging them into adjacent folders) -- Gnome has drag & drop threshold... My Uncle's OS's window manager doesn't... her response: "Well, just turn it off and on again and go into the Linux." -- She was a bit upset that my Uncle B. didn't have "the Linux"... "Well why don't you have it? It doesn't cost anything, and the whole screen can zoom in when it's hard for me to read..."

          She has a point -- it is free, why not have a dual boot just in case the other OS gets hosed?

          My 75 year old neighbor started using Linux last year. He couldn't use a CLI to save his life. Same story as my Grandma -- Now they call me to shoot the shit, not guiltily ask me to remove malware -- My brother and uncle have both asked me to install Linux on their computers at the father's day family get together.

          Please -- Stop spreading FUD. If these barely computer literate people can use Linux just as well as they can use Windows, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

        • by Machtyn (759119)
          I hate to agree with the above post, but I have to do so. I get along just fine in a CLI environment. I'm really in my element when I am there. However, there is no reason to have all the same options available in a GUI. That was the biggest complaint Linux admins had that I've seen - the GUI doesn't enable or contain all the possible options. This is actually getting much better now.

          While their complaint is valid, it is misdirected at the OS and not where it should be - lazy developers and Linux ha
        • Ok that's a bit harsh. The religious wars should have ended a year ago, but apparently some people think it's still cool to trash one or the other. I'm not a CS grad, and occasionally I need the CLI in Windows too. Computers are evil. GUIs have bugs. CLIs suck if you can't type 80 wpm like hackers can. I'm proud to say that I can use Linux, Windows and MacOS (and any other thing that might be dreamed up) equally well, and I make no criticisms of any OS, except to say that none is perfect.

          I've contributed a

        • by Xtifr (1323) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:50PM (#36161354) Homepage

          I get can have a machine spend years without needing a SINGLE line of CLI, ever. Can YOU do that?

          My brother's logged over two years running Ubuntu without ever going near the shell, so, yes. Nor, before you ask, have I been forced to come over and do CLI-based maintenance for him. He did the whole thing, from installation on, by himself with no CLI involved at any point.

          Remove ALL shells.

          And it won't boot--init runs shell scripts (as does cron). But that's different from the user not running a CLI. On any vaguely modern Linux, the user is "forced" to use the CLI about as often as a windows user is "forced" to use regedit, but, unlike regedit, the CLI is actually useful, fast, and efficient if you do decide to learn to use it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by epyT-R (613989)

          editing the registry using the built-in ms tools is a joke.. it literally is like searching for a needle that might not even be there..

          I get can have a machine spend years without needing a SINGLE line of CLI, ever. Can YOU do that? Try this experiment if you think Linux is ready for the desktop: Remove ALL shells. C'mon, Linux is modular, yes? Then remove the shell or mod them down so you can NOT use them! I bet the machine won't even make 6 months, and you sure as hell won't be updating the thing, because without CLI Linux falls down like a house of cards.

          since when is CLI bad? no, you just don't care to learn it. fine. that doesn't mean it sucks or is backward. guis suck for some tasks too.

          at least linux HAS a decent cli to fall back on.. break windows enough and you might as well just reinstall..and we all know how much of a pain it is to rebuild a complex windows setup from scratch..long gone are the days when we could

        • by oakgrove (845019)
          If it were possible for a collection of words to suck the IQ out of the room, we would all be slobbering out of the sides of our mouths right about now.

          Oh please! I can make that into a little .reg file and go "See this thing? Go clicky clicky and reboot" and its done, period, the end.

          How is you making a .reg file any different than me making a .sh file that somebody can click on and let the magic happen? Exactly, it isn't. Except that .reg file is a black box. My .sh file can easily be commented so the user can view it and understand what it does.

          Just because YOU don't know how to make a .reg file doesn't mean the giant clusterfuck that is Linux CLI (seriously even OS fricking 2 has a solid API by now, having drivers break every time Torlvalds gets a bug up his ass is inexcusable) is in ANY way shape or form comparable.

          This is little more than a shrill rage induced rant and has nothing to do with the first

        • I get can have a machine spend years without needing a SINGLE line of CLI, ever. Can YOU do that? Try this experiment if you think Linux is ready for the desktop: Remove ALL shells. C'mon, Linux is modular, yes? Then remove the shell or mod them down so you can NOT use them! I bet the machine won't even make 6 months, and you sure as hell won't be updating the thing, because without CLI Linux falls down like a house of cards.

          Troll is troll. Lets start with the issues in your statement:

          1) If you want to start doing things out-of-the box in windows, you often have to fall back to CLI. For instance, if you hit the file-path length limit, you will likely need to resort to something like scripting renaming directories recursively, or setting up directory junctions (which will result in a shorter path). Try doing those without CLI, go on... And what about unhiding files that have been marked system/superhidden by a virus? Or cha

        • dunno if it's worse to have to go to bash and fix stuff than the equivalent in windows, which is pretty much just randomly re-install drivers and hope. pretty modern
        • by WorBlux (1751716)

          You can't remove all shells and have anything work reliably. The way the system launches is something like you desktop enviroment is for your display manager to call the default shell with something like "exec /bin/sh - ~/.xinitrc %session". You could remove end user access to a shell (disable tty1-6, and not include a terminal emulator if it were installed by an OEM and not have any problems on a few distros. The last time I absolutely had to use a CLI to get something a non-techie would try to work on Ub

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by obarthelemy (160321)

        I'll bite

        A) Windows
        A1- Here's the doc
        A2- type regedit
        A3- change the key as indicated
        Done !

        B) Linux
        B1- look for the doc
        B2- open a terminal
        B3- sudo
        B3b- type in credentials
        B4- open the file
        B5- edit as per doc, being careful of where you add your line, misspellings

        that's already a few more steps and more possible mistakes... but now the real fun begins:

        B6- find out the doc was only good for Horny Huckster (which is 9.7), you have 10.5 (which is ... Priapic Prong ? maybe), look again
        B7- don't find any doc you'r

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Your starting points for your steps are not equal.

          You make "open regedit" one step while you make "open terminal, sudo EDITOR, type in credentials three steps"

          Let's look at the reality.
          The "type credentials" step has an analog on Windows 7 and Vista. Lack of authentication before changing system-wide configuration is not a feature. If that's really what you want on linux you can easily set it up too.

          Opening a terminal and then opening your editor are not seperate steps for everyone. On my system WindowsKey+

          • You have to be careful of misspellings in the registry too. And unlike emacs, regedit won't automatically create a backup file.

            Clarification - the registry is backed up every time a system restore point is created. A restore point is created during every installation of windows updates, so assuming you haven't turned off system restores and automatic updating is taking place, you may very well have a daily backup of the registry (windows defender at least has a daily update).

          • Re:The relevant bits (Score:4, Informative)

            by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @10:10PM (#36161502) Journal

            Not to mention you can't do search-and-replaces, pipe the registry through other utilities to make more advanced changes, easily back up and restore major changes and actually view an entire app or daemon's config in a single plane as opposed to annoying trees that only obfuscate and complicate config changes.

            I realize the registry can store binary blobs, but I'd argue that the file system is a much more efficient place to store such data, which is why I'm general not in favor of large binary blobs in any kind of database.

            The registry is a very typical of the Microsoft way of doing things; overly complex with way too much stuffed into it that could be done better in other ways. I absolute hate the difficulty of backing up and restoring registry sections, particularly since .reg files are essentially merged into the existence structure, rather than replacing it.

          • Of course then there's this whole thing about having to learn on /. that your OS is phoning home every time you connect to the internet, and then having to go to the trouble of stopping it, so I figure I'm already ahead.

            Next up: Let's talk about how much harder it would be to run antivirus on Linux, if there were actually a reason to do such a thing. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

        • Re:The relevant bits (Score:5, Informative)

          by Dhalka226 (559740) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:56PM (#36161406)

          I'm not saying there are no problems with linux, or that it is more user-friendly than Windows in this (or any other) case, but you're hardly treating the situations equally.

          For example:

          Open doc versus find the doc. System-level configuration options tend to be quite well documented. How are you magically going to know where the documentation for an obscure feature is in Windows but have to look it up in linux? What the hell would you even search for? "My Windows machine seems to be pinging the Internet randomly and I want it to stop?"

          Apparently "open terminal" deserves its own step, yet we're magically typing regedit. Where do we do that? Equality dictates there should be AT LEAST one more step in the Windows instructions at this stage, to open Start Menu -> Run or Ctrl-R (I think, anyway).

          If you're allowed to edit system-level properties in Windows without Administrator credentials, you have an entirely different problem or, more likely, you're running as one constantly. If it's the latter, consistency once again dictates you've added an unnecessary step in the linux instructions. You're free to run linux as root if you want to vastly increase your chances of getting owned, just like you're free to do so with Windows.

          b3 (sudo) and b4 (open the file) are one in the same instruction. You'll do sudo /path/to/config.file which will simultaneously get your appropriate privileges and open the file. You can have B3b if you want, subject to the above.

          "Change the key as indicated" is pretty much no different than "edit as per the doc," even though you try to make it seem as if it is. In either case you're looking at documentation, finding the appropriate configuration value and changing its value. You may or may not have to add the line; if it's a feature defaulting to on, as is the situation in Windows, it will almost certainly be there. Likewise, where you add the key almost never matters other than for organizational purposes. And you have to be careful of typos either way. If the value in Windows is 0 or 1 it's likely to be the same in linux. You can fuck typing it up as easily on one system as the other.

          In other words, if you're not deliberately trying to make Windows seem superior by fabricating the scenario to be simpler for Windows than linux, the steps are pretty much identical. You need to make sure the have appropriate privileges. You need to know what to edit, whether that is a key buried in the registry or a confgiruation file buried in a directory tree. You have to actually edit it, and you have to not fuck it up while you do so.

          And that's without even touching the rest of your "steps," which even you admit are exaggerated.

          I don't care what operating system you use; I'm not a zealout either way. I used linux for years. My PC primarily runs Windows (it has a linux distribution on a second partition that has gone from Red Hat to Gentoo to Kubuntu over the years, but it hasn't been used in several years now). I'm typing this reply on a Mac. But if you're going to make comparisons, let's be intellectually honest and make valid ones.

        • Re:The relevant bits (Score:4, Informative)

          by WeatherGod (1726770) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @10:02PM (#36161440)

          I'll bite

          A) Windows A1- look for the doc A2.1- click the "run command" taskbar item A2- type regedit A2.2- supply credentials (assuming proper security setup) A3- change the key as indicated Done !

          B) Linux B1- look for the doc B2- open a terminal B3- sudo B3b- type in credentials B4- open the file B5- edit as per doc, being careful of where you add your line, misspellings

          that's already a few more steps and more possible mistakes... but now the real fun begins:

          Additions mine... Let's be fair when discussing these comparisons. First off, you have to find the documentation regardless of a windows or Linux system. You can't just say that someone will hand you the docs in one situation but you have to hunt in another. Next, opening a terminal is just as easy as clicking (or having a keyboard shortcut), and in windows, you also have to click somewhere to enter the regedit command. I would also hope your system is set properly that modifying the registry requires authentication.

          Next, you talk about making sure you place some particular option in exactly the right place with the right value. First, most configuration files don't care about order. Many follow the .ini approach. Second, good configuration files should come loaded with comments and examples. For example, the apache and sendmail configs are chock full of information. Personally, I have found the descriptions in regedit to be fairly limited.

          Don't get me wrong, there are definite benefits to a centralized registry system, but I think that there are pros and cons to both approaches, and I lean towards the linux approach.

          B6- find out the doc was only good for Horny Huckster (which is 9.7), you have 10.5 (which is ... Priapic Prong ? maybe), look again B7- don't find any doc you're 100% sure is germane to your setup/issue

          Lastly, while documentation for open source projects can definitely be a weakness, (although programs on windows aren't completely immune to this criticism) getting the wrong version of the docs is a pebkac issue. If the man pages don't have the info you need, the distro should have the docs available for your version, or the project's website should have the docs for your version. Checking the docs' version should always be the first step.

          • at least B10 is proven true by this pebkac ^^. I assure you that while investing why rsync had issues going ntfs to ntfs, I came across several docs that had no indication whatsoever of what version they applied to (had to go by the date of the forum posts to make a guess), and the man pages were of no help at all.

            I concede on the extra step to open the run command, sorry. windows-r is kinda embedded in my fingers by now.

            As for having to supply credentials, you don't, you do have to accept the UAC alert, th

        • I'm exaggerating a bit, but this happens more often than not, and is the main reason why I'm still using windows.

          I've been using Linux for years, so it's always exhilarating to hear how impossibly difficult it is and what a superman I must be. Don't try this at home, kids!

        • by qubezz (520511)

          Let me fix that for you:

          -Windows: edit undocumented registry key option to disable undocumented network location service that contacts Microsoft's servers,

          -Linux: doesn't surreptitiously phone home.

      • by qubezz (520511)

        It's much wiser to just disable the useless Network Location Awareness and Network List Services. What is the point of those anyway; an icon to tell you you can't get on the internet to help you figure out you can't get on the Internet?

        While you are at it, SSDP Discovery and UPnP Device Host, along with other cruft like WinHTTP Web Proxy Autodiscovery, Function Discovery Provider Host, Function Discovery Resource Publication, Net.Tcp Port Sharing Service. Also on the list is Peer Name Resolution Protocol, P

    • by arth1 (260657)

      It's a global switch, and not per interface, which is incredibly stupid.

      I have two NICs on my main rig. One 100 Mbps connection that has internet connectivity, and one 1 Gbps connection to all the LAN machines that doesn't. And Windows 7's network panel is dumbed down - it ONLY lets me specify that the internet connection is trusted, but gives me no way of changing my TRUSTED 1 Gbps LAN from "Public Untrusted Network" to something else. So when I try to reach machines on the LAN, it prefers to bounce pac

  • WHAT! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigMac7400 (1915854)
    Yet another interesting obscure registry key to target for spyware-malware... the registry database is source of all evil on Windows since his creation....
    • I can certainly see how this registry area would be useful for spyware/malware, though I don't see any application beyond a simple DoS attack. I'm not paranoid about privacy, but this was a very useful article.
    • Re:WHAT! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:58PM (#36160958) Homepage
      On the other hand, it's a built-in way for you to track your laptop if it's ever stolen...
  • Worse on Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:26PM (#36160682)

    It's even worse on iPad ::

    Even with push notification/email/find my ipad feature turned off, it still try to connect to any known WIFI network or 3G network behind your back. (Ever wonder why you always get your wifi connection instantly right after waking it up?) You can't disable it unless you put it on an airplane mode.

    Microsoft is still a bit better than Apple here. With Microsoft you can change the ping URL, the same can't be said for iPad.

    iPad is the ultimate spyware.

    • by theurge14 (820596) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:36PM (#36160772)

      So what you're saying is the iPad will search for a Wi-Fi network when you have Wi-Fi enabled, and it will stop searching for one when you turn Wi-Fi off and/or Airplane Mode on?

      What exactly is the problem?

      • Apple is the problem. When Google announced that 75% of office computers could use their closed Chrome laptop, nobody on slashdot said boo. When Apple adds the App store to OS X, everybody says that Apple will soon lock down all Macs.

        • by bluemonq (812827)

          The difference being that folks who already own Macs want to do whatever they want, just like before, whereas nobody in the world has yet to buy a Chromebook or Chromebox from a retailer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sorry, I wasn't clear enough.

        When all the whizzbang feature turned off and iPad is sleeping, I do not expect it to even attempt to connect to anything. In case of iPad, it does. Not only that, it also ping some IP address that resolves to *.apple.com regularly. My router log & wireshark confirms that.

        iPad/iPhone also have similar feature with MSFT feature mentioned in the article. After you get DHCP lease from your wifi network, iDevices won't consider itself connected to wifi network until it can ping

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So it connects to the Wifi networks you've previously setup - and you can easily tell it not to on a per-network basis. You can also easily turn off Wifi and/or 3G, independent of Airplane mode. What exactly is the problem here? You've described how pretty much every Wifi-enabled device works.

      This article is about something else - not how Microsoft connects to Wifi routers, but how it decides if you have an "Internet connection" or not - in other words, does the router you're connected to actually provide a

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Emphasis on ANY KNOWN (that is, any wifi network you've connected to before). As it should. iOS does not try to connect to random unknown networks unless you tell it to.

      You know Windows, OS X and Linux, and I imagine any other major OS, all do the same thing, right?

  • On my N900 I made a similar shellscript that outputs to a desktop widget. It tries to fetch Google.com using the domain name and via a static IP, and based on that it can tell me if the connection's totally dead, uses a captive portal, has bad DNS, or if it's a good working connection. Very handy for mooching off unsecured and public wifi. I just click a widget and know all about the connection I'm on.

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:42PM (#36160824)

    Seriously, I know it's hip to hate MS, but why pretend that this is spyware? It's a very nice feature. Whenever I'm traveling and trying to connect to my company VPN from a hotel or airport or restaurant or whatever, it lets me know immediately if I need to open my browser to do so. Back in the XP days, I would just spend a few minutes wondering if I mistyped the WPA key before figuring it out.

    It's not like there's any personal info being transmitted. All they know is that a computer running W7 has connected to the internet with a given IP address. Not exactly the most useful information. The logs are probably only kept to help them debug the service.

    You laugh at people who get tricked by those "Your computer may be broadcasting an IP address!" malware banners. Why complain about this?

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:48PM (#36160894)

    privacy concerns? they know your IP from windows update!

  • Privacy conerns? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:58PM (#36160964)

    I'm all for privacy, but what is the concern with this feature? Nobody has said that it includes any identifying information in the request, so the only thing Microsoft knows is that someone behind that IP is running Windows. They can't track you (there's no way of knowing that a request the next day from a different location is from the same copy of Windows) and there's no way to map a request to a particular person or computer, so I'm struggling to think of any way the data could be used maliciously.

  • Didn't we just see an article where it was decided that IPs don't map to people? http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/05/03/2020205/An-IP-Address-Does-Not-Point-To-a-Person-Judge-Rules [slashdot.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:10PM (#36161928)

    If you customized the url to your own personal server this could be very helpful in tracking down a stolen laptop.

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