By default, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 has enabled settings that track you for advertising. Windows 8.1 and 10 also try desperately to have you log in to your computer with a Microsoft account. Those settings should be disabled and you should never log in with a Microsoft account because several of my customers have had trouble logging in when they used a Microsoft account to do so. Logging with a non-Microsoft account makes it harder for Microsoft to deliver you targeted advertising. Just because it is very difficult does not mean we should willingly surrender our privacy. The steps included below are current as of the Spring 2019 update (1903). Some of what you will see on computer purchased in the store will be different than below, but the majority of the steps are the same. Older versions of Windows may be slightly different too.

Windows 10

  1. First, make sure you do not connect your network until after you log in for the first time. If you do, Microsoft will make you give them your email to finish setting up Windows 10. You should never ever under any circumstances let Windows 10 have your email because then they will use it to track you.
  2. Second, make sure you read the end-user license agreement (EULA) in its entirety. There are some nasty things in it that you need to be aware of.
  3. The first two pages deal with the keyboard and language. Most likely you will use the default. The third page is for an additional keyboard layout. Unless you are multi-lingual, you can just press skip.
  4. If you wisely did not connect your network cable, the next page has your network connections, either wired or wireless. If you have Wi-Fi, it will list your wireless networks. It will also show your Ethernet connection. It is very important to press Skip for now. You will notice that it is light blue letters on a dark blue background just to make it harder to see.
  5. The next page will try to convince you to be dumb. Just push the No button.
  6. The next page will then ask for your name. Put whatever you want in there.
  7. The next page will ask you to create a password. If you do not want a password, leave it blank and just press Next. Otherwise, you will have to put a password in twice and provide three recovery questions.
  8. After that, you will be asked about Cortana, Microsoft’s version of Alexa and Siri. You should know how I feel about such devices. I always Decline because the last thing I want is any for-profit corporation listening to me. If you don’t mind creepy, go ahead and accept.
  9. After that, you will be asked about activity history. Microsoft wants to know what websites you visit, what you do, and other creepy stuff. You should press No.
  10. The next page is privacy settings. There are 7 settings on this page, you need to turn off all 7. Which means you have to scroll down to see a hidden one. After you turn off all 7, then click Accept.
  11. There isn’t much more you need to do. The first thing you should do is disable Windows from automatically installing network printers. I cannot tell you how much headache this has caused me. After you do that, then connect your computer to your network.
  12. Next you should download and install an easy-to-use browser instead of illogical disaster known as Edge. I recommend Mozilla Firefox because Mozilla corp is a non-profit and I find it to be the most logical user interface. Most people choose Google Chrome. You will then need to change your default browser to the proper one. Don’t let Microsoft try to guilt you into using their bad one.
  13. After you install a proper web browser, you need to download a program called O&O ShutUp 10. Once that program runs, check everything with a green arrow beside it. Possible exception: you might want to leave the password reveal option unchecked. Everything with a yellow triangle are things you should read. Most of that I check. The last thing I check is to disable apps from running in the background.
  14. Restart your computer and run O&O ShutUp 10 again. You will to redo some settings just once. You will need to run this program again after every major update.
  15. Finally, you need a proper and logical start menu. There are two good choices. Start10 is the best choice, but it is $5. OpenShell is free, but it will annoy you to update every so often.
  16. I recommend you also disable Edge from pre-loading. Nothing should start until you tell it to. The link contains instructions, ignore it if you don’t understand.
  17. If you are really into advanced settings, you should use the Win10-Initial-Setup-Script. But NOT the default settings from its creator. You need to read what each setting does and selectively choose the right few.

Windows 8.1

  1. You will see a page that says “Settings” at the top. Click Customize at the bottom.
  2. The next pages are about connecting your computer to your network. If you have a wireless connection, you may choose to set it up now but you do not have to. If you are connected with either a wired or wireless connection you will see a page about file sharing. If you want to enable file sharing click the Yes box; otherwise click No.
  3. The next page has settings about updating apps and PC protection, you can leave all those boxes turned On.
  4. The next page is about sharing info with Microsoft and others, turn all those boxes to Off except for the box that starts with “Get better protection from malware”, leave that box On.
  5. The next steps are for setting up an account. The steps to avoid logging in without a Microsoft account are purposefully ambiguous. When you see the page that says “Sign in to your Microsoft account”, click Create a new account at the bottom.
  6. On the next page choose Sign in without a Microsoft account or Continue using a local account.
  7. You may see a page for creating a local account. If so, fill in all the appropriate information. When finished, wait for Windows to finish preparing your account, this will take several minutes.