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Windows Recall Gets Recalled, Reveals Microsoft Back Up to Old Tricks

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By Nelson Schneider - 06/09/24 at 03:23 PM CT

When erstwhile MeltedJoystick photog, Matt, asked me what I thought of Windows Recall, I said I’d never heard of it. When he described it as an AI-powered search function that obsessively screencaps and monitors everything you do on your Windows PC in order to “help” you find files or websites you may have “misplaced,” my response was immediate, without any need to pause and think about it:

“That sounds like an enormous invasion of privacy and an equally enormous waste of system resources.”

And I guess my knee-jerk reaction to Windows Recall was spot-on, since Microsoft has recently backtracked (or maybe “recalled”) their decision to turn this feature on by default in the face of massive backlash.

Yup, good old Microsoft, whose Xbox Division has been bending over backwards in recent years in an attempt to seem customer friendly when compared to the likes of Sony, Nintendo, and Apple, just let the mask slip. What a “surprise,” then, that the same Microsoft that was sued by the United States government and European Union for monopolistic practices in the ‘90s and early ‘00s is now the Microsoft trying to create both a gaming monopoly through the acquisition of third-party studios, and an Orwellian surveillance system that wastes the end user’s own resources in order to harvest said end user’s data for Microsoft’s actual benefit.

Fortunately for those of us in the PC Gaming community, Windows Recall isn’t quite the immediate threat it might seem to be. Specifically, it’s only available on a very specific type of high-end ARM chip, and with PC Gaming still staunchly entrenched in the x86/x64 archetype, we don’t need to worry about this particular snake slithering into our Windows-based entertainment centers… at least for now.

Unfortunately, when Microsoft makes Big Dumb Decisions like this, it only further illustrates how bad monopolies are for everyone except the monopolists themselves. There we were, wringing our hands and worrying that Microsoft was going to try to turn Windows into a perpetual subscription, when what we needed to worry about was Microsoft turning Windows into a literal Big Brother who eats CPU cycles like dry-roasted peanuts.

We are rapidly approaching what feels like an absolute cut-off point where closed-source, commercial operating systems like Windows and MacOS will be hampered with so much liability that anyone who knows how will finally be forced to make the jump to Linux on the desktop. The underlying dread, though, is whether Linux will finally be idiot-proof enough for public consumption by the time Microsoft renders Windows unusable.

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