|I have to build some computers for homeless teens. I'm
| unsure if we'll be able to get W7 licenses (MS has tried to
| dry up the availability of older OS's to push everyone
| to their latest).
You can get Win7, but it's not cheap. I've bought
from this company in the past and had no problems:
You can even still buy XP. (I built myself a new
XP box recently. You just have to be careful about
making sure the hardware has drivers available.)
| W10 allegedly is rife with spyware ("data collection"
| that MS no doubt uses to sell *you* to THEIR customers;
| you are no longer a customer but, rather, a commodity).
| Does anyone have first-hand experience with how pervasive
| this is? And, if there are *reliable* ways to disable it?
Not firsthand. I haven't used Win10. But I do keep
track of news. Basically, you can't block it all. Microsoft
now considers you to be renting services on their device.
They simply will not respect or even acknowledge common
notions of privacy and customer respect. They even have
privacy terms and TOS now, which is, itself, rather creepy
for an operationg system:
Actually, what they're doing is defining their product as
services and devices. The terms apply to all services, with
Windows being one of them. For what it's worth, here are
a few more links:
Microsoft reserves the right to update Win10 at
their discretion, which means that even if you decide
you don't mind what Win10 is now, it may not be that
in a few months. Ads and spying are likely to increase
over time, as they gradually acclimate the customer
base to the new business model. (That's the freebie
strategy. Facebook is a good example. As is Twitter.
They start out free and then gradually become more
exploitive as people get hooked. The kicker here,
though, is that Win10 is not even free! The Win7/8
Win7/8 update is free.)
| Finally, how much risk these students will later be at
| (for it to reintroduce itself to their machines) as they
| accept future updates.
The latest news is that the following Registry setting
works, but it's a shifting landscape. The only safely stable
approach is to disable Windows Update. MS wants to convert
everyone to Win10 services. They're not likely to give up.
DWORD value: DisableOSUpgrade = 1
| [I prefer to lock-down these sorts of machines so the
| student doesn't come looking for "support" (from me)
| later when an update mucks something up...]
| [[I'm sorely tempted to install a FOSS OS but figure that
| would leave them even farther out on a limb...]]
You could install Linux, then give them Libre
Office and Firefox. The problem there, though,
is that they won't be able to do much else with
it. And Linux support is terrible because there's
constant version churn.