As you’ve no doubt already heard, Microsoft recently made an interesting announcement concerning security on Windows 10 and its Edge browser: according to the Redmond-based company, the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, long a vital line of defense against zero-day exploits, is now redundant. This announcement, curiously, was bundled with the release of the Windows 10-compatible version of EMET.
"Given the advanced technologies used to protect Microsoft Edge, including industry-leading sandboxing, compiler, and memory-management techniques, EMET 5.5 mitigations do not apply to Edge," reads a blog post by the team. "We have implemented many features and mitigations that can make EMET unnecessary on devices running Windows 10."
Seems a little arrogant, doesn’t it? While I don’t doubt that Microsoft has taken a number of extra precautions to safeguard its enterprise users, the claim that a tool designed to protect against unexpected vulnerabilities is redundant seems more than a little premature - to say nothing of the fact that, as far as market share goes, the Edge browser isn’t exactly king of the junk heap. And while Microsoft has taken a number of steps to secure Chrome, it seems unlikely that they can do as much to harden Google’s browser as much as their native browser.
To be fair, it’s still too early to say whether or not any of Microsoft’s efforts will bear fruit. Instead, let’s shift gears a bit. Let’s look at this from a usability perspective.
How does Windows 10 measure up to its predecessors from an administrative standpoint?
Honestly? It’s kind of a mixed bag. While it’s certainly an improvement over Windows 8 in many ways, it still falls well short of 7 in many others.
The start menu and system settings are obtuse and painful to sift through. The VPN client is awful, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Windows Server 10 (dropping later this year). It saves every search you make, constantly calls home for the smallest actions, and (if you don’t disable the right settings) tracks you like an overbearing nanny.
We haven’t even gotten to the worst part, though - the fact that Windows 10 both constantly nags the user to switch back to default apps, and the fact that it forces updates onto the end user with little choice as to whether or not they want to accept. The idea, I suppose, is that this way of doing things will force less tech-savvy users to keep their systems up to date, reducing security risk across the board. Trevor Pott of the Register rather succinctly points out the problem with that line of thought.
“Its people like me not patching, because I don't want to close everything down so that Windows can reboot, and I'm perfectly okay with the "risk" of browsing the internet through Firefox,” he writes. “I prefer not to have to fight Microsoft to keep my computer from rebooting and annihilating all my open applications, thanks.”
And therein lies the biggest problem with Windows 10 - Microsoft seems to be displaying a marked lack of respect for the end user. And if this is how they manage their core OS, then what’s their server management software going to look like? Will they be as tone deaf there, too?
I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see - but I hope for all our sakes that the answer’s a resounding ‘no.’