Windows 10 Can Block Your Games And USB Devices

Windows 10 may be the first version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system that doesn’t obey its users. Instead, we’ve seen automated features in Windows 10 default to sharing users’ Wi-Fi, according to USA Today. Windows 10 even continues to talk to Microsoft when users have explicitly turned those options off, Ars Technica reports.

The latest concern to hit Windows users planning to upgrade to Windows 10 is the addition to the EULA (End User License Agreement) that allows Microsoft to block “counterfeit games” or “unauthorized peripherals” from being used with your system. While it might seem perfectly reasonable on the face of it for Windows 10 to block pirated games (more on that later), Beta News makes the point that there isn’t a list, or even any guidance available, regarding which devices Windows 10 considers acceptable now or may consider authorized in the future.

Perhaps the most concerned users will be those Xbox 360 and Xbox One users planning to upgrade to Windows 10 who are currently using third-party controllers. Softpedia points out that it’s possible that Windows 10 could enforce, under this EULA, that only official controllers can be used, and that certain competitors making “Xbox-like controllers” could be locked out of Windows 10 at Microsoft’s discretion.

Peripheral devices have always been limited to an extent since they need to be able to work with the operating system and follow its rules. However, Windows 10 clearly takes a new stance on this with the ability to actively scan and block certain devices, perhaps after users have bought and used them for some time. It’s not certain at this stage how active this feature will be in Windows 10, but users who tend to use a range of third-party devices may wish to hold off on upgrading to Windows 10 until the company clarifies their position.

Let’s go back to gaming. Few would argue in favor of piracy in the gaming market, and Windows 10 doesn’t want to be a haven for piracy. However, allowing Windows 10 to intervene in the process of determining ownership or not of a game by a user could potentially lead to some issues. PC gamers regularly upgrade their hardware, a situation which already causes license issues with Windows 10 upgrades (especially if the original installation was an OEM version of Windows 10, or an upgrade from a previous OEM version). It’s unlikely that it will delight many to find that Windows 10 will now become an arbiter for deciding whether their games are, in fact, legitimately owned.

It’s possible Microsoft will confirm their stance on this, and Windows 10 will only use these powers with Microsoft games and hardware. However, until it’s clarified or changed, the EULA would allow Windows 10 to restrict users from taking advantage of their own peripherals, plugged into their own third-party PC, should Microsoft decide to produce a Windows 10 update with that functionality – something users need to be aware of so they can make an informed choice about Windows 10.

Have you gone ahead with your Windows 10 update, or are you holding out because of the privacy and other concerns about Windows 10?

[Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox]