Microsoft Responds to Windows 10 OS Privacy Concerns

Windows 10 Privacy Concerns

After much anticipation, Microsoft released its Windows 10 PC operating system to the public in July 2015. The new OS had a myriad of improvements over its predecessor, including greater cross-compatibility between devices, a new digital personal assistant, enhanced security, Edge web browser, and the return of the Start menu. However, some users have expressed concerns over the privacy settings of Windows 10.


Should I Be Worried?

The default “Express” settings with Windows 10 will automatically send certain information to Microsoft, some of which may include contacts, calendar data, and associated input data. This alone isn’t a huge issue, but there are other subtle nuances with Windows 10 that have raised some eyebrows. The new digital personal assistant Cortana, for instance, can track a user’s location by collecting their GPS data. And it may also collect personal data from users, such as voice recognition and input commands.

According to TheVerge, Windows 10 may also enable bandwidth sharing to help distribute its updates. Assuming this is correct, a user’s computer could essentially be turned into a server, transferring data to other users who are downloading new Windows 10 updates.

Microsoft’s Response

Microsoft has responded to the criticism of its Windows 10 OS privacy settings in a blog post, in which it says that it only collects a limited amount of information. And the purpose of this information is generally used for the purpose of improving the Windows 10 infrastructure.

We collect a limited amount of information to help us provide a secure and reliable experience. This includes data like an anonymous device ID, device type, and application crash data which Microsoft and our developer partners use to continuously improve application reliability,” explained executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson. “This doesn’t include any of your content or files, and we take several steps to avoid collecting any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or account ID,” he added.

You’ve probably experienced this before: you are creating a document or performing other work on a Windows-based PC and all of sudden the program crashes. When this occurs, you may notice a message box asking if you’d like to send a report to Microsoft. If you choose yes, Microsoft will receive information about your computer and the incident that caused the crash. This may include your device ID, the program, date/time, OS version, etc. As noted by Terry Myerson, this information is used to enhance the Windows experience for its users by identifying bugs so they can be fixed.

To recap, there’s really no need to worry about privacy concerns in Windows 10. Microsoft collects two types of data from users: safety/reliability data, and personalization data. Windows 10 isn’t going to harvest your personal files and send the data to Microsoft for some nefarious scheme or purpose. If the data can be used to improve your experience or fix a vulnerability, though, it may be sent.

How to Disable Personalized Ads in Windows 10

There are a few steps you can take to further improve the privacy of your Windows 10 experience, one of which is to disable personalized ads. This is done by logging into Windows 10, accessing the Settings > Privacy > General > and toggling the box labeled “Let apps use my advertising ID for experience across apps” into the on position.

If you are worried about Windows 10’s new Cortana personal assistant to collecting personal information from your PC, you can disable this feature by clicking the Cortana icon on the taskbar, selecting the notebook icon on the pop-up window, and then choosing “settings” from the options list. From here, toggle the option labeled “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more” into the off position. Now you won’t be pestered by Cortona popping up every couple of minutes. If you wish to turn it back on, just repeat the process and toggle Cortana back on.

If you are thinking about upgrading your business’s operating system to Windows 10, contact the Austin managed IT services experts at Magnet Solutions Group.