Microsoft turns off the past

For a very long time I have been using a very old windows tool, abandonware, but there is no replacement for it.

I use it to keep a very large pile of structured data and metadata about sensitive information. And this tool suddenly stopped working. After playing around a bit, I came to suspect that the latest windows update had turned it off, probably with a very large amount of other old software. I still had read only access to the data, and I still had a windows machine on which updates had been stopped a short time earlier, and everything still worked fine on the machine running slightly older windows software, only three days older.

I then set to work creating a windows machine which I intended to always run an outdated version of windows, and never to be connected to the internet or the rest of my home network, except through sneakernet. Only to discover that a short time before turning off old software, Microsoft had also scoured the internet of older versions of windows install isos, which starts to look mighty conspiratorial, intentional, and malicious. Also the update happened silently in the background, not with the normal process that involves user interaction, which looks very conspiratorial, intentional and malicious indeed. Software got turned off in a silent hidden background update.

Could everyone please check their hard drives and cd pile for versions of windows install iso predating the current release. They are about to become valuable, also highly illegal, and highly in demand. Also, of course, highly vulnerable to network worms – they will not be useful on the internet, only for running in isolation.

I dumped all the data into non proprietary format – which format did could not contain my precious metadata that structured my very private data. I then zipped it up and encrypted it, and added it to my backup system. I have a plan to manage my data in a new format, but it is going to be a bit more cumbersome and less convenient.

All the new software coming out these days helpfully backs up your precious data in the clear to the cloud. Everyone is installing these wonderfully handy tools that listen to every word you say, send it to the cloud, where an Ai does speech to text conversion, which gives you the convenient ability to say “Siri, play the wheels on the bus song” when the children want entertainment. Today, the television watches you. People are doing this voluntarily, but turning off old software makes it less convenient to avoid, and that this is happening indicates it is going to be systematically and intentionally made less and less convenient.

Does linux fix this? Snap is the first step along the path that Windows has walked – well actually the second or third step. One could argue that systemd and Gnome3 were earlier steps in this direction. Don’t run anything in snap, run it in flatpak. But if you run Ubuntu, strangely difficult and inconvenient to avoid running things in snap.

Just as it has become ever more difficult to access old books, it is going to become ever more difficult to avoid having a television set that watches you. And Microsoft turning off old software looks mighty funny.

46 Responses to “Microsoft turns off the past”

  1. Anoymous says:

    Off topic.
    What do people here think of the “enshittification” drum Cory Doctorow’s been beating for the last two years? This is Cory’s definition:

    Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die. I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a “two sided market,” where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.

    He and most everyone else talking about this are ideological enemies of NRx—shitlibs and/or commies who’ll bitch about how Elon Musk is the devil, bitcoin is ruining the climate, muh white male techbros need more diversity and less wealth, etc. etc. The term does carry a lot of that baggage, and Cory’s suggested solution to the problem mostly involves increasing regulations and the scope of government oversight of business—this is to break up monopolies and compel platforms to not suck back consumer surplus into themselves. (To be fair, there are some laws that he suggests lessening the scope of, e.g. the DMCA or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.)

    But I think that despite all that, this particular concept is a useful tool in a conceptual toolkit for thinking about tech business. It’s an accurate description of the lifecycle of internet social media platforms, I’ve certainly been on the receiving end of it enough times as an end user.

    I also imagine that, despite the opposing political alignments, the technically inclined portion of Jim blog readers (and of NRx in general) do actually have a small bit of common ground with the sorts of people who are against enshittification, anti big tech company, and pro-things like the Fediverse. This is a ‘vibes-based’ assessment. One reason is that people in this sphere are none too keen on modern social media platforms, as the platforms’ moderation makes them an enforcement arm of the Cathedral, and so are interested in alternative, open platforms, and in adversarial interoperability with the incumbent platforms. Distinct motivations leading to similar outcomes. The Fediverse itself is already split down the middle into all the mainstream, shitlib/commie servers on one side and on the other side, the right wing and/or troll servers that the shitlib server operators maintain big blocklists of.

    Another reason I have that vibe is that Jim mentions having anarcho-capitalist sympathies, is familiar with the cypherpunk movement, and used to be active on Usenet. A profile of an ‘early adopter’ of internet technology, just like Cory. In a less politically polarised era, people like Jim and Cory may have violently disagreed about their politics but could still have had productive discussions about, I dunno, encrypting hard drives and communications so the government couldn’t snoop on them. To normies, none of this stuff matters except that they doomscroll twitter or whatever these days. But neither Jim nor Cory are normies, and likewise neither NRx people nor Mastodon furries are normies. There’s common ground in that, if nothing else.

    • Ex says:

      Doctorow is economically illiterate, like most leftists, and substitutes ‘bad guys clawing back my value’ for analysis. Platforms die for several reasons, one being his own teams habitual subversion to make a platform about analmarriage instead of the platform service, another that many recent platforms were ZIRP (Zero interest rate phenomenon) products of easy lending that would have inevitably died by bankruptcy if they did Not take value for themselves, another the pivot-to-video flop that ate bandwidth and servers for not enough return, yet another is govt thumb on scale and compliance regulation that only megacorps can afford leading to the destruction of midsized platforms, and then there’s natural turnover.

      Tldr: I don’t believe it.

    • jim says:

      If it is free, you are not the customer, but the product.

      Once they have enough eyeballs, they deliver the product.

      We need a distributed social network, Web 3.0. A lot of people are working on that.

    • Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

      Wherever there is production of value, sources of power, structures of potestas, there will be spiritual bureaucrats looking for an angle to skim off it. Middlemen sliding past solving coordination problems for profit and into exacerbating coordination problems for invidiousness is a nigh universal problem in markets.

  2. Mister Grumpus says:

    Off topic again:

    That’s it. Tucker’s people read this.

    “I’ve worked at a lot of news organizations in the United States, and they’re all the same. They’re all afraid of getting sued or yelled at or fired or humiliated. But interestingly, none of them are very afraid of getting things wrong. That’s not a concern. They’re not worried about accuracy as much as they’re worried about being unfashionable or saying something forbidden. What they’re really worried about is telling the truth.”

    “The Gulf Arabs that I’ve dealt with, over the years, are far more tolerant than your average white, secular liberal in America — far more tolerant. They have a bigger and more Christian Christmas celebration in Abu Dhabi than we have in New York.”

    • Mister Grumpus says:

      “I hope Switzerland stays exactly the same. The second the American empire collapses, you will get the bank secrecy back.”

  3. Mister Grumpus says:

    Off Topic:
    With Disease X potentially coming up, if anyone with some street cred here could recommend a source of bulk Ivermectin, but without possibly self-doxxing, I and surely many others would sure appreciate it.

    • jim says:

      Get it from agricultural supplies. Comes in horse sized amounts, enough to last you for a very very long time. It has long term effect. People take it every day, but they do not need to. I took one dose of 20mg when I got Covid. Seemed to work fine.

    • /pol/watcher says:

      For human ivermectin it’s it OTC in countries like India, so do with that info what you will

    • Aryaman says:

      I’ve heard people have had success with Indiamart:

    • Kunning Drueger says:

      Tractor Supply, any rural hardware/feed/farm supply all carry it.

    • Maverick says:

      Try the links from 2ndsmartestguyintheworld on Substack, PetMectin and other Pet variants. I’ve ordered multiple times. Expensive per tablet but top quality, I’ve had to use for real emergencies. Also good is that the ivermectin tablets look like chalky vitamin D which means you can put it into your vitamin container in your personal kit in luggage without triggering problems with transporting liquids and near-liquids with the paste version. I don’t travel without it any longer, too many times I’ve been trapped somewhere with no paste and no way to get it.

      Pro tip: If you need to give it to someone who is unaware of what we know, grind up 1-1.5 tablets and mix into hot English Breakfast tea, the ivm bitterness gets covered up nicely. Saved more than one person with this subterfuge when they were otherwise deteriorating.

  4. Kunning Drueger says:

    In light of Pilgrim’s excellent question, I feel compelled to exercise an unofficial privilege: Jim, would you consider doing a post on guidance in a world where we don’t have easy access to the internet? I know that is a huge ask, and I’m okay with you ignoring it completely. I don’t think it’s likely, but I do think it’s possible. So maybe it is worth getting something canonical written about it. To clarify,

    What should Jimians do if the lights stay on but the data goes away?

    • jim says:

      What we did before the internet was a thing. Local large stores of data shared around by sneakernet. For long distance, there used to be a big ham radio community. Certain frequencies can, erratically and un predictably, propagate half way around the world, depending on the weather conditions in the upper atmosphere. There used to a whole lot of channels steadily sending encoded information at these frequencies. The total available world wide bandwidth is not very large, but you could get a pretty big text library through eventually, with patience. But it would likely take you weeks instead of seconds before your document came through, if everyone else was trying to use it at the same time, which they were.

  5. Pilgrim says:

    Hi Jim,

    This sounds like an opportunity to switch to Linux. Windows has become a bit shit since they started with the advertising.

    Did you try the AI stuff yet? It’s getting pretty good, wouldn’t surprise me if there’s already some submarine psyops going on using it. This is too powerful a weapon to ignore, it could turn tides.

    • jim says:

      I only run ancient applications in windows, that and software development for windows. Used to be that windows support for old bitrotten software was the best. Now it no longer it is. Wine is primarily targeted at old legacy software, and is a pile of tools for running very old abandonware windows programs. Getting my stuff to run in Wine, I realised that no end of people had been facing similar problems. Wine defaults to windows seven, and helpfully pops up a UI for totally customising the ancient environment differently for every program you want to run, so that it not only runs in an older windows, but in a windows customised for that program in particular.

      With Microsoft dropping the guillotine on old software, I expect a whole lot of people to be forced to move to wine.

  6. Reziac says:

    Microsoft isn’t “turning off” old software. What usually happens is that the old software was using an undocumented feature, or depended on a bug, and when the undocumented feature went away, or the bug was fixed, the old software stops working. Raymond Chen regularly discusses the problem on his blog. Microsoft has often gone out of their way to keep old commercial software running (which sometimes means retaining Windows bugs) because otherwise enterprise customers scream, and they are MSFT’s real customers. MSFT does not care about home users; we are a cost (and to some degree free beta testers), not a profit.

    Search for:
    index of /isos windows
    and lots of sources will come up.
    It is not illegal to redistribute these ISOs, because they still require activation (of course, you can run your own activation server, or use msguides dot com for the purpose). Even archive dot org has a bunch.

    Also, Crusty has tons of both official and remix ISOs.

    The problem of malware vs old Windows versions is severely overblown, and since updates have become monolithic, has pretty much gone away, outside of old exploits that have been there for many years (and are occasionally uncovered and fixed). Care to guess how bad guys found holes to exploit? the individual patches were for specific flaws, and thereby told them where to look. The bad guys are not programming geniuses, nor do they have access to source code; the patch description, a decompiler, and a diff program suffice.

    When did you last see new malware for WinXP? A: the day updates stopped.

    Further, today’s routers do a good job of stopping most network worms and such (which are rather more of a problem for *NIX, whereas Windows gets more application malware).

    So use a good router and firewall, use the Windows version you prefer, keep ads out of your browser and don’t go to stupid places (porn sites are the major infection route), and otherwise don’t worry about it.

    • embeveraged commuter says:

      Lmao. Don’t forget to use incognito mode on your browser so nobody can track you as well.

      Thanks for keeping us safe from Russian and CCP hackers, Mr Reziac.

    • woods says:

      If the problem is a API change or a bugfix then running jim’s program in compatibility mode might also work.

      • jim says:

        Wine is one hundred compatibility modes. Running it in Wine works. It defaults to Windows seven, which suggests that a whole lot of people using it are in my boat.

        And, with Microsoft dropping the guillotine on old software, there are going to be a lot more people in that boat. More and more people attempting to run windows have been fighting Microsoft harder and harder over more and more issues. It is long past time to abandon that sinking ship. Unless you are happy giving all your data to your enemies, and operating as a client in on a hostile cloud.

  7. Mike in Boston says:

    For some tasks, I have a Windows XP virtual machine that does not have a network connection, but runs under VirtualBox on an internet-connected host machine.

    Last year, I moved it to a new host machine, and the XP installation failed activation. Connecting it to the internet to activate it would defeat its purpose.

    I was surprised, but pleased, to find that Microsoft’s automated phone system for activation was still up and running, and enabled me to re-activate the installation. When they turn that system off, it will pose a problem for this convenient and relatively secure setup. I suppose there must be cracks out there; but I have a hard time not trusting a crack to install malware.

    • Reziac says:

      I still use XP64 for everyday (because it does not make my eyes bleed, nor give me a burning need to jerk some UI designer through the monitor and beat him to death). You don’t need a dodgy activation patch; you just need a volume license key and the matching ISO.

      BTW, Win10 is often portable between PCs, especially if they have an embedded license (common in Dell and Lenovo workstations).

    • woods says:

      And if the system does go away, there’s an offline tool to do the same activation:

  8. skippy says:

    why do you use windows?

    • jim says:

      ancient software, for which no modern alternative exists.

      • Mayflower Sperg says:

        Ancient Windows software that does something useful, for which no open-source alternative yet exists. Have you tried running it in WINE?

        This is a field I’ve done substantial work in, sometimes putting in hundreds of unpaid hours of mind-numbing tedium to reverse-engineer a single Windows app, so I might be able to help you here.

        • jim says:

          Have not tried it, not familiar with wine except just following recipes to install windows applications already packaged for wine and known to work with wine.

          I will give it a roll, but I have no idea what is involved – I have not walked that path before.

          If it runs in wine, that would save me a huge amount of grief and lead to the long overdue final separation between me and windows.

          • Mayflower Sperg says:

            I just tried this on a clean Linux install and everything worked:

            sudo apt install wine
            winecfg (lets you choose what version of Windows to imitate, and what files Windows apps are allowed to access)
            wine the_install_program.exe
            wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Company/Program\ Name/Program\ Name.exe

            Wine provides good coverage of older Windows APIs, so old apps and their installers generally work, especially if all the app does is open windows and read and write files. Probably still want to run it with internet disabled, just to be safe.

    • Reziac says:

      It could be worse. I have a DOS app (from 1991) that I can’t replace. Nowadays I run it in a VM, but still…

  9. Aidan says:

    How old do you need? Might have an old windows 7 iso on a drive somewhere

    • jim says:

      I managed to scour up the old windows I want.

      But it is not going to stay old if connected to the internet, which is inconvenient. Microsoft is presumably going to halt antivirus updates to older windows. It might be safe from random hackers if connected to an antivirus service, but Microsoft has probably leaked a bunch of zeroday exploits to the enemy.

      • Aidan says:

        Microsoft openly publishes a list of old Windows that it no longer pushes security updates to, all of which have available ZDEs without MS having to quietly push the disablement of software. W10 is slated for EoL in 2025. Many of these ZDEs are “living off the land” style exploits of powershell and dll libraries that might not be picked up by an anti-malware. But, if your WAN-facing security is good, none of this matters that much. An enemy would need to get into your LAN to exploit your old Windows installation.

        • Reziac says:

          Even the zero-day exploits are not as widespread as we’re led to believe. One of the security vendors (forget which one) reported that visitors to some particular group of popular sites included only 0.4% infected systems. (Presumably they queried for particular junk in RAM that indicates active infection. Javascript can do that.)

          Less than half a percent. And that was back when there were still a lot of older Windows systems in everyday online use.

          • Aidan says:

            Jim is clearly not worried about clicking on a link on a porn site promising him free penis enhancement and installing malware. He is worried about people targeting specifically Jim. If a hacker out to get Jim makes it onto his LAN and scans his network, discovering that he has a WinXP installation, the chances that an existing ZDE will be used against it are 100%. But as long as his network security is good, there isn’t much need to worry about having an outdated OS in the closet.

            Most corporations have old vulnerable software running behind very strong network security, and the network security is sufficient to protect it until Shaniqua clicks on a phishing email promising her free hair extensions. 90% of jobs in the “cybersecurity” field only exist because of Shaniqua’s retardation.

            • Kunning Drueger says:

              thank you for this response, I lacked the lexicon and credibility to give it. The above is a very blasé, and in my opinion completely and wildly incorrect, portrayal of network and computer security environment for dissidents.

              • Your Uncle Bob says:

                I suspect payload more than disinterested nonchalance. 2 parts “lol don’t worry true patriots don’t wear masks and carry their smartphones to rallies,” 1 part “but if it ever really matters there’s nothing you can do anyway, they’ve already won” blackpill.

                And this dude aside, I’ve been wondering for a while now if some fed or shill doesn’t have a license to type thoughtcrime after all. There have been several new handles start with partial agreement but really go for engagement/timewasting on their points of concern.

                Or I’m paranoid, and Jim’s reach is growing, and I’m just seeing the culture shock of tepid normiecons finding someone actually to their right. (I’ve been thinking separately about how much some of the older conservatives of my acquaintance, flag-wearing Tucker fans and Trump voters, have deeply internalized feminism and anti-racism. The zoomerwaffen might actually be a real hope in comparison.)

                Or, splitting the difference, they’re unpaid auxiliary thought police and they’re doing it for free. How’s it feel to police the internet for free when the feds and jews run slush funds for the same work, and you couldn’t even make that cut?

            • Reziac says:

              If a hacker has made it into your LAN, you are already way more screwed than any software can protect you from.

      • The Count of Montecristo says:

        You can disable Windows updates, although they have made that increasingly difficult to do, and not sure if that can be trusted 100%. The details vary somewhat depending on which version you are running. Same with Snap, and I presume that is more reliable. I have generally done so in the interest in not having to deal with update hassles when I haven’t been able to avoid the use of Windows, and rely on a firewall and browser updates.

        If anyone has evidence or reasons to believe that disabling Windows updates doesn’t work reliably, would be curious to hear details.

  10. Windows has always been untrustworthy, it’s just a matter of when and where Microsoft’s needs conflict with yours. Don’t worry about Snap; if something is available in Snap it’s also available in some other format, since open source is excellent at identifying choke points and working around them.

    • Mayflower Sperg says:

      I can’t run Snap applications. I always upgrade by formatting the root partition and installing a new version of Linux. /home is not a directory on this doomed partition, nor is it a partition all by itself, and those are the only two setups that Snap deems acceptable.

      • jim says:

        This is the Microsoft “Embrace and extend” extend deathgrip, which is now being widely imitated. You write this handy dandy not really open source software that all the open source software has to play ball with in order to use the handy dandy facilities, and pretty soon all that open source software is not really open source any more. Microsoft has perfected the art of embracing open source in order to eat it, and we see a whole of players inspired by this successful move.

        You get open source using closed source capabilities, then you get open source complying with closed source constraints, and pretty soon the closed source is using the open source instead of the other way around. That snapd cares where you keep your home directory means it is doing stuff that it should not be doing. A tool should do only one thing. If it does too many things, which systemd and gnome3 are doing, it is an OS.

        Microsoft gained immense wealth and power by being the OS, and everyone, their brother, and their brother’s dog, wants to be the OS. So they write software that thrusts its tentacles into every orifice, so that other people’s software will become dependent on those tentacles being there.

  11. jaericho says:

    I have iso’s of Win10 21h2, win11 22h2, and win7 sp1

  12. c4ssidy says:

    Hashes and root hashes and trees just need to be made fun, including for children and teenagers who have a lot of free time. One starts with super nintendo roms or ww2 news reels and scientifically spergs over them enough to build community root hashes. Then you just need educational and entertainment content (animation scripts, presentations, lectures, even imageboard or forum posts or direct messages) which directly references the historic archive content within a bundle. The program would look for a local bundle of data with the same community root hash as the content used, if it isn’t there, you get a red light and a broken link. Everyone of a particular niche interest would be incentived to locally backup a verified bundle of data relevant to that interest as it would allow him to zombie-scroll the rest of the time (reading contemporary discussions which make references to the past)

  13. Kunning Drueger says:

    large organizations in this time are typified by sclerosis, paralysis, and factionization. assuming what you outlined is what is happening, and it should be said I lack the skill and experience to verify independently, what are the implications that a massive, maybe bloated is the better term, organization run by a permanent bureaucracy inhabited by women, foreigners, and faggots has pulled off a quiet and far reaching operation? What about smaller, more nimble groups? Is it possible they have done these things faster, quieter, and earlier?

  14. FrankNorman says:

    How old a version of Windoze do you mean? Will WinXP do?

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