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How Windows 7 Knows About Your Internet Connection

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the when-telepathy-fails dept.

Networking 434

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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Windows (-1, Troll)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160596)

Interestingly I just noted about this on slashdot a week ago when someone was thinking why Windows was connecting to a Microsoft ip address. It only makes good sense to test that the network connection really is working, but also shows that Microsoft isn't there to violate your privacy like Google. You can easily turn it off or even change what url it requests. If you value your privacy, it's better to pay for your software instead of selling your privacy to marketers in return, like with Chrome OS.

Re:Windows (1, Troll)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160670)

Do you get paid to post that bullshit?

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160726)

Yes he does. ffs slashdot editors need to wake the f up to how often they are getting played. This particular astroturf campaign has been going on for months.

Re:Windows (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160940)

Slashdot editors are not "being played." They're in on the whole thing and may even be writing those posts themselves. First principles, Einstein - you believe all those Packt reviews are coincidence? They're being paid off or they're trying to hook up a buddy. In this case, though, I believe it's a garden-variety sheepdog - the editors themselves and/or a persona like eldavojohn or palegray posting a generic, fairly eloquent introduction to further discussion. It is no coincidence that palegray and eldavojohn are both "the maker."

Slashdot is much more controlled than you believe it to be. It was fun once upon a time, but the only reason I post here now is to hear myself talk. Hello me, meet the real me. And my misfit way of life. A dark, black past is my most valued possession. Rollin' down the street, smokin indo, sippin' on Gin and Juice. Laid back.

Re:Windows (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160786)

You got nothing to say? Just going to troll? OK then.

Re:Windows (4, Insightful)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160886)

Are you serious? All you have to do is look at his posting history to determine that he is in fact probably *not* an astroturfing shill. Paranoid much?

That said, I thought this was obvious. The very first time I got that 'no Internet access' message, I reasoned that Windows had to determine this by connecting to a known server, certainly a Microsoft one. It's the same troubleshooting step that I take myself when diagnosing a connection failure - I login to the router and use its tools to ping google or something (to eliminate computer configuration problems).

This shouldn't be surprising, or particularly important.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160960)

Are you serious? All you have to do is look at his posting history to determine that he is in fact probably *not* an astroturfing shill. Paranoid much? I don't know if it's astroturfing or not, but the only thing that makes Google a greater threat to privacy than, say, Bing, is the size of their userbase.

Re:Windows (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160974)

Are you serious? All you have to do is look at his posting history to determine that he is in fact probably *not* an astroturfing shill. Paranoid much?

I don't know if it's astroturfing or not, but the only thing that makes Google a greater threat to privacy than, say, Bing, is the size of their userbase.

Irrelevant (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161058)

> This shouldn't be surprising, or particularly important.

Agreed. There is a general antipathy towards MSFT here, but this is a fairly innocuous and important thing for almost everyone. The very few people who have serious concerns about it also can use very restrictive firewalls or change a setting. No big deal.

Also, after the article referenced in this story [slashdot.org] yesterday, Microsoft could be reading my credit card and bank statements and taking daily webcam photos through my machine, and they still would not even 1% creepy, comparatively.

Re:Windows (3, Interesting)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161230)

I always wonder when one of you idiots is going to pounce on some pro-Linux post and accuse the poster of being a shill so everyone can see how perceptively cynical you are. I expect I'll be waiting a while.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160694)

Chromium OS?

Re:Windows (-1, Flamebait)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160702)

Good luck compiling Flash and H.264 into that.

Re:Windows (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160844)

Uh, Flash? Here [hexxeh.net] .

Good to know (1)

traindirector (1001483) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160716)

I had wondered why each time I connect to my wireless network with my Windows machine the interactive firewall tells me svchost.exe is trying to connect to a Microsoft IP and why the icon shows limited connectivity until I load a web page (although I apparently didn't wonder enough to go find out--I just deny the requests or let them expire). Looks like I'll be making some registry changes.

Best way yet to disable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160774)

Insert linux install disk.

Re:Windows (0, Troll)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160788)

People, please restore my faith in humanity and mod this troll down. I don't care what you think about Google or Microsoft or any other company, this is pure astroturf and belongs in the basement.

The relevant bits (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:The relevant bits (5, Funny)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160692)

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.

Re:The relevant bits (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160802)

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

Re:The relevant bits (5, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160884)

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:The relevant bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160970)

You're assuming the person knows what program they need the manual for... which in this case they may not guess ncsi.

Re:The relevant bits (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161074)

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

Re:The relevant bits (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160950)

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.

Taking into consideration your sarcasm, what is it exactly you find so complicated about using a central mechanism for configuring OS directives? Are we just accepting this highly flawed idea that nonstandard *nix configuration conventions are some golden standard of usability?

Re:The relevant bits (3, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161146)

My issue with the registry is it's lack of comments and relatively non-intuitive naming scheme. Even gconf-editor in gnome which reminds me a lot of regedit has comments. When I want to configure something textually, I just go to my home directory in the file manager, and look around for a file that is named something similar to the program I want to configure excepting being preceded with a "dot", i.e., a dot file and that's it. Just edit that file. It will probably be liberally commented so it's really not that hard to figure out what you're doing. For system wide config, look in the /etc directory. Same deal just without the dots.

Re:The relevant bits (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160966)

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? 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.

Just face the fact that Linux is a SERVER OS, with millions being spent on SERVER tools, and the GUI is an afterthought at best. Sound breaks? Bash, Wireless fucks up? Bash. Video problems? Bash. Hell the answer to EVERY question in Linux is bash. Which is fine if you're an admin, CS grad, or geek with more time than money. For everyone else? News Flash: They ain't touched a CLI in 10 years and they sure as hell ain't about to start now. You show them a command prompt and they think "rinky dink Mickey Mouse OS" and frankly they are right. You should NEVER need CLI on a modern OS. The fact that Linux can't live without it just shows how far behind it is in the desktop arena. Embedded and server its great, desktop is shit.

Re:The relevant bits (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161068)

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!!!

Re:The relevant bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161120)

Yea, try managing 100s of windows desktops compared to 100s of linux desktops. CLIs are really easy to automate. I you can do it on one system you can do it on all. Windows, not so much. Sure there is WMI, but that is a giant pain in the balls.

Re:The relevant bits (2)

PNutts (199112) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161320)

Yea, try managing 100s of windows desktops compared to 100s of linux desktops.

They're called Group Policies and they're used to manage 1000's of PCs at our shop, including the registry entry that started this conversation.

Re:The relevant bits (5, Funny)

bennettp (1014215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161168)

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 (1, Insightful)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161192)

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 the other foot, I could just as easily say:

Then remove the registry or mod it down so you can NOT use it! I bet the machine won't even make 6 months, and you sure as hell won't be updating the thing, because without the registry Windows falls down like a house of cards.

If the CLI in and of itself is such the charlie foxtrot, why is it that Windows has been adding more and more CLI functionality with each iteration?

You should NEVER need CLI on a modern OS. The fact that Linux can't live without it just shows how far behind it is in the desktop arena. Embedded and server its great, desktop is shit.

I assume here that by "modern OS" you mean "modern desktop OS", yes? If so, it's easy enough to run a desktop Linux distro without ever touching the CLI -- Ubuntu and Canonical have seen to that, among others. But if you really want to get in there and get your hands dirty with some power user customizations, sure -- you're going to need to use the CLI, whether you're running a Linux distro, Mac OS, or even Windows.

Cheers,

Re:The relevant bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161202)

Sir, I find your ideas intriguing, and wish to provide a female of suitable stock to have your babies.

Re:The relevant bits (5, Insightful)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161220)

>> 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.

Mod Parent FUD. (5, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:The relevant bits (2)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161250)

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 has lazy developers, too. Is it so difficult, if you are going to build an interface for the options, to include all of the options, whether it be checkboxes, radiobuttons, dropdown lists, or textboxes with an explanation of what is expect (this configuration value is 0.0 .. 9.9 [ 2.3 ]). Write the options to a file, when the execute occurs, read the options from the file. And for Linux developers, if you are not going to include a GUI for options, at least give us good documentation of command line options - preferably in a table.

Where appropriate, I like to provide both the GUI and CLI options. That way they can start the application manually or automate it to do its functions.

Re:The relevant bits (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161300)

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 lot to the open source community, and I'm glad that Linux exists. On the other hand, I don't begrudge Microsoft or Apple for existing, and I recognize that most people prefer to use something that's a little less power-user than Linux.

Re:The relevant bits (1, Redundant)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161364)

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 lot to the open source community, and I'm glad that Linux exists. On the other hand, I don't begrudge Microsoft or Apple for existing, and I recognize that most people prefer to use something that's a little less power-user than Linux.

We need more users like you, seriously. :)

I'm an occasional Linux user, but what pisses me off more than anything is the bashing and hate that comes from the Linux side. They're the minority, and hence have to compensate by whining so much about Microsoft ($ sign included usually) that after 10+ years of this bullshit it's become really grating. It's as if they're unable to convince anyone to use Linux without bashing the competition, and can't convert people solely by positively talking about their distro.

I use Windows because it has the greatest level of software support (commercial or otherwise) and the least level of pain. I mean that last bit - using a variant of the most widely used desktop OS has its benefits in terms of doing the things you want to do, as well as focus and attention on its development. Maybe one day I'll kick it to the curb, but the hoards of Linux zealots aren't going to factor into it. Most of them have horrible technical knowledge about Linux anyway. :)

Re:The relevant bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161344)

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.

That doesn't really make it any more friend than Linux, where I could hand someone a .sh file which they could double click, enter a password, and be done as well. The argument the parent was making, as I understood it, is that it is quite absurd to suggest an OS which requires understanding that registry gobbledygook is any more use friendly than one which requires understanding the oldschool CLI stuff.

Just because YOU don't know how to make a .reg file doesn't mean the giant clusterfuck that is Linux CLI ... is in ANY way shape or form comparable.

I'm quite comfortable with both, and often have to help those who are comfortable with neither. They are comparable - they're necessary to dig into the guts of the OS and change things that don't (yet) have user-friendly GUI's to do it. The difference is that, once introduced to the "man" command, one can figure these things out on the Linux CLI. The same cannot be said of the Windows Registry.

(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)

Maybe. That's an entirely different discussion.

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

The argument, as I understood it, of the parent was that the lack of user friendliness in the Windows registry was comparable to Linux's lack of user friendliness in other areas. Clearly, you're not arguing that Windows can run fine without a registry - as TFA clearly points out.

Stiill, it should be noted: CLI hides around all over modern systems, including Windows. Do a search for batch files on your system, you may be surprised. Many applications script things, they just do so behind the scenes. Moreover, I've known people who've been happy on various Linux distributions who know not a single CLI command - if that "YOU" was a reference to a generic Linux end-user, than yes, it's quite possible these days.

Remove ALL shells

Alas, most Linux distributions (just like Windows and it's registry) use the CLI in the background at the least, and so removing all shells would leave it completely inoperable. Just as Windows cannot run without it's registry.

...Wireless fucks up? Bash...

Want to change the Windows keyboard bindings? Registry. Want to disable NCSI? Registry.

I do agree that most end users don't want to touch the CLI. They don't want to touch the registry either, and despite your +5 Insightful you've done nothing to argue against the grandparent's point.

Re:The relevant bits (0)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161352)

Bravo! You get a friend rating for telling it like it is. :)

Re:The relevant bits (3, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161354)

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:The relevant bits (3, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160984)

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're 100% sure is germane to your setup/issue
B8- try a few, fail
B9- ask on the forums
B10- get shot down as a noob who can't even search for an answer nor ask a question right, 'coz everybody knows the right term is NCSI.

I'm exaggerating a bit, but this happens more often than not, and is the main reason why I'm still using windows. Linux mostly works out of the box, but any issue is hard to find docs or support for. In my experience, issues no longer happen as early (drivers are OK, installs have been auto-completing for me for a couple of years), but more advanced stuff is still very badly documented nor version-ed.

Example of cases this happened to me over the last year:
clean up the grub2 boot menu. Couldn't do it in the end, still had 3 choices for Windows (only 1 installed), one for my unbootable data partition... did find where to get rid of older linux kernels
setup RDP server
get rsync to work for NTFS to NTFS backups

goodbye karma ....

Re:The relevant bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161016)

From TFA.
Maybe this is worth adding, the ncsi.txt file hosted on msftncsi.com seems to have no end of line.

$ file ncsi.txt ncsi.txt: ASCII text, with no line terminators

If you want to host your own, make sure it doesn’t have an eol either or else the ballon “Additional log on information may be required” will popup.

Re:The relevant bits (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161268)

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+E brings up emacs, which is usually already running anyway

sudo is 4 more characters (5 if you include the space) that you may have to type in front of your editor command. I'm pretty sure I can do that faster than you can find regedit with the mouse. Even if you use WindowsKey+R and type regedit, regedit is 2 characters longer than emacs and 4 characters longer than vim, so the effort wasted on typing sudo is seeming smaller and smaller all the time...

UNIX paths are generally much shorter than paths in the registry. Once knowing the name of the file to edit, I suspect I can open the file more quickly than you can navigate to the registry key.

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

Re:The relevant bits (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160836)

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 packets off the router on the 100 Mbps network instead of going direct on the 1 Gbps one.
Expert systems suck, because they're never made by experts.

Re:The relevant bits (1)

rikkards (98006) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161216)

Experts know about the route command in Windows.

Re:The relevant bits (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161262)

Isn't that the point? Is the thing the parent complains about something only experts should be able to do?

Re:The relevant bits (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161272)

In Windows Vista/7, the work/home/public feature essentially is a quick way for the NLA service to toggle a few flags in the Windows Firewall (the work and home profiles are mostly the same, but in Windows 7 picking home also enables Homegroup). There's an advanced management console if you really want to dig into what's being controlled (run wf.msc), but since the firewall only controls inbound traffic and broadcast name resolution by default, it sounds an awful lot more like you have a routing issue with something along the lines of being simultaneously connected to two different networks with the same subnet ID.

If that's not the case but you're trying hit machines on the trusted LAN which are on a different subnet than the one you're physically attached to, you'll need a static route configuration (Windows XP, Linux, etc are no different in this case). The routing in Windows can be checked with "route print" at the command prompt; when multiple routes are available, packets are processed to pick from the most specific route first, then the one with the lowest metric. Metric in Windows XP is only calculated from reported link bandwidth, but Windows 7 uses a more complicated algorithm. Overriding it is still easy, though, and can be done per route or per adapter.

So, really, Microsoft hasn't been dumbing down the control panel so much as they're trying to make it support more configurations automatically and making the main landing page (Network and Sharing Centre) show the end user the most relevant information without being overwhelming. The truth is that there's now more granular control than ever before, and the location awareness and automatic firewall is one of their biggest advances for the mobile computer's security.

WHAT! (3, Insightful)

BigMac7400 (1915854) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160680)

Yet another interesting obscure registry key to target for spyware-malware... the registry database is source of all evil on Windows since his creation....

Re:WHAT! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160754)

Would you rather have one database or a few thousand .ini files?

Re:WHAT! (1)

BigMac7400 (1915854) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160840)

I rather have distinct DB with distinct level of permissions to isolate system-os config from users stuff and more than all, not a place for third party apps to have access to. The big mistake of the registry base is making it available to any apps, it should be strictly reserve for OS config stuff and user profile only.

Re:WHAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160904)

Stop running as administrator then. Done.

Remember that the registry has actual ACL entries on every registry key (folder). There are great hunks of the registry that are read-only to non-administrators.

Re:WHAT! (1)

BigMac7400 (1915854) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160968)

Huh? Ok, I'll follow your advise. How it will help from keeping apps from putting in their own crap there? like everything that launch at start?

Re:WHAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161342)

1) Create a new user as a local administrator.
2) Enable all permissions on the registry key (that you're endeavouring to lock-out) for this new user.
3) Remove all permissions for any/every other user.

Now permissions on the specified registry key restrict apps installed by anyone other than this new admin user from modifying (i.e. adding themselves) to the Auto-start-up registry key.

Dumbass...

-AC

Re:WHAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161100)

Wow, a linux fanboi with HIS head up his ass spreading FUD about Windows, whoda thunk...

The registry has and supports full ACL permission lists for hives, keys and data and it's segregated by need, function and by purpose. It's no more "available to any apps" than an INI repository with specifically allocated and properly designated rwx permissions would be. Also, it can be centrally administered via Active Directory Group Policies. It is superior to INI repositories in just about every single respect.

In the past, Windows' habit of having every/any-one signed in with full Administrative credentials caused the situation to appear as you have described, however Windows 6.0 and newer has enforced a stricter regimen and since ONLY Windows 6.0 and newer has this particular service, it seems you're actually just full of shit.

-AC

Re:WHAT! (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161244)

Yeah, you must not be quite clear on the fact that the Registry has ACLs too.

Re:WHAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160874)

Would I rather have easily editable plain text files clearly associated with one given app that goes away when that app is uninstalled, or a giant monolithic database full of impossible to understand cruft that is constantly edited by every app that's ever existed on the system?

I'm sorry is this a serious question? Perhaps you're just too young to have actually used ini files and you were trying to sound cool.

Re:WHAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161048)

Well when I stated writing software Windows was at 2.0. Does that make me old enough to understand what .ini files are? Yes I think so.

The registry is a huge step forward from what came before it. If you think it's not then I suggest you study the internal differences from Windows 3.1 onwards when the registry arrived. From a programming perspective it was extremely useful when Win 95 enabled the use of the registry to store settings.

And, from an administration perspective it's just not practice to have system settings stored in a potentially infinite number of locations.

Your comments suggest you have no experience in either developing software or network administration.

Re:WHAT! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161348)

Uh.. not an infinite number of locations. 1 + N locations, where N is the number of users.

Settings are under /etc, and in a hidden file or directory under each users' home directory. Perhaps you're getting hung up on the idea having things under a directory structure of flat files rather than in a single binary database file. But the distinction blurrs a little when you realize that the database file has a directory structure under it, so there are actually "infinite number of locations" under both options.

Only you can search the flat files with grep...

Re:WHAT! (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160880)

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! (4, Interesting)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160958)

On the other hand, it's a built-in way for you to track your laptop if it's ever stolen...

Re:WHAT! (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161234)

Yeah, because it would be soooo much better if the spyware had to, instead, write some text to an obscure-ass config file somewhere.

Worse on Apple (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Worse on Apple (-1, Troll)

BigMac7400 (1915854) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160722)

What a moron... RTFM next time before being scandalize by something you don't understand. Since any software can modify the registry key on Windoze malware can place bug there.

Re:Worse on Apple (4, Insightful)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Worse on Apple (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161028)

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.

Re:Worse on Apple (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161288)

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 a server (apple.com?) on the internet. A wifi (fan) icon won't appear until then. If it encounters a captive portal, then a portal is popped up automatically.

The bottom line is that Apple is using the same technology mentioned in the article PLUS pinging Apple regularly behind your back.

Re:Worse on Apple (1)

FlashBIOS (665492) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160852)

How is that, "even worse?"

Its not phoning home to the mothership (Microsoft or Apple) unlike TFA. Nor can that be used to track your actions. You're simply connecting to discrete WiFi networks that you _already_ said you trust. Don't like it? Forget the network. And as far as the 3G connection goes, it is *gasp* a cell phone. That's how a *gasp* cell phone functions.

Re:Worse on Apple (2)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161140)

If you don't think apple calls home, use little snitch sometime. Click on help, open an apple pro app, type in the dictionary or spotlight, or just sit and wait for random checkins by "dashboard advisor" and software update among others.

Re:Worse on Apple (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160872)

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 access to the public Internet. I don't find a big problem with how Microsoft does this - it's fairly convenient, and for those of us who don't want this it's possible to deactivate it.

Re:Worse on Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160930)

Are you a moron? Of course the WiFi radio seeks a Wi-Fi connexion if you turn it on.

Re:Worse on Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160980)

What FUD. It's doing exactly what it was designed to do, detect Wi-Fi networks and connect. It doesn't connect to just any Wi-Fi network. WTF are you talking about?

Re:Worse on Apple (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161034)

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?

First thing I do when I bootup (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160710)

- open task manager
- goto processes
- kill any programs that I don't need (like Compaq Assistant, Adobe Launcher, etc)
- kill any services I don't need
- make explorer High priority

It frees RAM and makes the computer run faster (less hard drive swapping). Hopefully this internet "IP recorder" service is one of those things I kill off. Although now that I know how to do it permanently, I'll do that instead.

Re:First thing I do when I bootup (4, Informative)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160928)

- open task manager - goto processes - kill any programs that I don't need (like Compaq Assistant, Adobe Launcher, etc) - kill any services I don't need - make explorer High priority

It frees RAM and makes the computer run faster (less hard drive swapping). Hopefully this internet "IP recorder" service is one of those things I kill off. Although now that I know how to do it permanently, I'll do that instead.

Spoiling mod points to call you an idiot.

Start > Run > MSCONFIG

Turn off the programs and services you don't need so you don't HAVE to kill them every time you boot up, and making Explorer high priority isn't going to really do much for you.

This "IP recorder" thing is just your computer testing for an active internet connection by actually running a real DNS query and actually contacting a real server somewhere rather than assuming your internet works because the interface is up.

Re:First thing I do when I bootup (1)

secretsquirel (805445) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160982)

startup cop, look it up

Re:First thing I do when I bootup (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160998)

Just curious, does making explorer high-priority really help? I gotta think the windows process/thread scheduling algorithms would manage it pretty well behind the scenes, but if you've found something new, sweet? I always assumed whatever time-slice management they have behind the curtain would give explorer what it needs when called for, and that force prioritizing it would shaft your other processes unneeded for the fact that explorer isn't a heavy worker compared to some applications, again could be completely misguided on this one.

Re:First thing I do when I bootup (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161018)

Oh my... you know you can do that once and for all ?

Re:First thing I do when I bootup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161148)

Hey, (and this is just between you and me, I killed that service too) could you let me in on some more Geek Squad pro-tweaks?

I swear, since I bumped Explorer's priority, it feels like a massive overclock on my A: drive.. just whoa.

windows vista ... (1)

knacjesus (1047530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160724)

... does the same thing ... it shows what type of connection you have AND will show *local only* when your connection drops or if you have full internet access ... therefore i wouldn't be surprised to see/hear/find out that it sends that vista sends that same info to ms ...

Re:windows vista ... (1)

lahs0n (892621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161232)

I just knew the title would prompt this response... smh

So what... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160728)

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=9752344&tstart=0#9752344
http://www.apple.com/library/test/success.html

those who have privacy concerns for this , no doubt happily use an iphone all day long....

Re:So what... (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160870)

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=9752344&tstart=0#9752344
http://www.apple.com/library/test/success.html [apple.com]

those who have privacy concerns for this , no doubt happily use an iphone all day long....

They can't possibly just have a privacy concern you either agree with, disagree with, or don't care about. No, no, no that's not how we do things around here. There has to be something wrong with them too. We're trying to imply that there has to be some flaw, something wrong with someone who takes a pro-privacy position.

Your suggestion that they'd happily use another device with privacy concerns of its own would mean they're hypocrites. Yes, that will do. We'll matter-of-factly portray pro-privacy as the position of hypocrites. The very best thing about this is that it's all about emotional appeal so it's difficult to reason against it.

So difficult, in fact, that sooner or later you'll start sincerely spewing the same bullshit yourself. 'Course you won't have much time left for actually explaining why you disagree with a pro-privacy position, but for you I suppose that has its advantages. Ad hominems are great fun, aren't they?

Re:So what... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161022)

With an attitude like that, he (?) could work for the New Zealand government. ...I wonder if it's that Melissa Lee, voting for an anti-piracy law while still taking pirated music from friends.

I use a similar shellscript (3, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160764)

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.

Either you trust Microsoft or not (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160798)

If you do not trust Microsoft stop using their software or stop complaining. Privacy concerns are nothing compared to proprietary software that can be executed on your machine whenever Microsoft wants.

This is a good thing (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:This is a good thing (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36160862)

why complain.. cause they can... It is how they define their existance.

Re:This is a good thing (0)

BigMac7400 (1915854) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160902)

I speak for my self, but like you I don't much about Microsoft spying my IP, but I care about being easy to modify and hiding a bug there for a malware. Still not such a big deal.

Re:This is a good thing (2)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160956)

I speak for my self, but like you I don't much about Microsoft spying my IP, but I care about being easy to modify and hiding a bug there for a malware. Still not such a big deal.

You're going on and on in comment after comment about Microsoft allowing people to "hide a malware" in there. Care to elaborate as to why that's different from somebody hiding a malware in their own process?

Re:This is a good thing (0)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161050)

Today, it's a ping. Tomorrow, it's a system-level log. Ten releases later, you wonder where things went wrong when Windows starts keylogging and screen capturing to a corporate server.

Ok, it probably won't get that bad (corporations and the government would throw a hissy fit if it came true), but at the end of the day, this does expose the vulnurability of closed source projects to espionage. Hell, open source projects (or at least the compiled binaries of an open source compiler) are theoretically vulnurable. But I'd rather have one pair of honest eyes auditing the code for such misbehavior once every ten years it than none.

Re:This is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161132)

As soon as the first geek with a packet logger for windows sees that microsoft phones home with personal data, you can bet you will read it here. Until then, stop the hyperbole.

This is basically the next evolution of WEB PROXY AUTO-DISCOVERY PROTOCAL, an expired internet draft DESIGNED BY NETSCAPE. If anything complain to them.

Re:This is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161306)

Ten releases later we're all on to a totally different technology and way of doing things and this is completely irrelevant. But even if we are using the same tech, well, it'll still be a log, no matter how much you want to think the big bad MS is out to get you.

Re:This is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161150)

Yes - also there are plenty of FF add-ons which do the same thing, though I have to admit I manually set them to ping my own server IP.

Re:This is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161226)

Agreed. It sounds like a great feature, especially since you can have it ping your own server. If this were any other company, people would think this was awesome.

MS really needs to work on their branding. They should get that nerdy Yahoo guy they hired to go around and talk instead of Balmer.

privacy concerns? they know your IP from updates (4, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160894)

privacy concerns? they know your IP from windows update!

Re:privacy concerns? they know your IP from update (3, Funny)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36160952)

Shush! Don't inject logic into the discussion - let the zealots show the world how paranoia and hate infects the Linux world. After a while you realize why ordinary people don't want to use Linux if there's a risk of becoming one of these losers.

Privacy conerns? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

umm, just like Vista did? (1)

nsteinme (909988) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161114)

Doesn't Vista have this same feature?

Don't Firebox and Thunderbird call home? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161134)

Don't Firefox and Thunderbird also call home every time they start up - or at least the log-file equivalent - when they check for updates?

Re:Don't Firebox and Thunderbird call home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161294)

Yes. All the distros should reject this behavior but that'll never happen. VLC is the only app I've used that actually asks on the first use.

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