Microsoft: Win10 Data Collection 'Benefits Users'

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has insisted that all Windows 10 data collection is for the benefit of users. Representatives also stress that any data collected is encrypted before transmitted to Microsoft servers.

The company has been under attack ever since Windows 10's release, and as it became increasingly clear regarding information the system collects and transmits back to Microsoft. While users have control over much of this data collection, it's often switched on by default and finding the relevant settings to switch it off can be confusing.

At one stage Microsoft had to defend itself against claims that it was operating a keylogger similar to those used by password-thieving malware distributors. While it was actually just a research tool for Microsoft to improve the accuracy of voice recognition and auto-complete, poor communication gave the impression that Microsoft had something to hide.

Windows 10: Two Golden Rules Regarding Privacy

Microsoft executive Terry Myerson, responsible for overseeing Windows, has posted online to reiterate some principles for Windows 10 data collection. He says the two ground rules are two-fold. First, Windows 10 collects information so the product will work better for you; secondly, you are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected. (Source: windows.com)

According to Myerson, Microsoft will achieve this by categorizing data in three ways.

The first is collecting non-identifying data about a PC's setup when a program crashes. Myerson says such data has already helped identify and fix a major problem with a graphics driver that was sending Windows 10 into a reboot. Such data collection is a mandatory part of the system for home users, though the enterprise edition will eventually have the ability to switch off the data collection. (Source: cnn.com)

Privacy Settings Cover Personal Data

The second category is personalization data, which Myerson says is used to make Windows features more useful, such as building up a personal dictionary to improve text auto complete tools. Myerson says users can control these settings at any time, either through the Privacy section of the main Settings menu, or through the settings options for individual apps.

The third category is advertising data. Myerson says Microsoft will never scan personal files, messages or emails to gather information for targeted advertising. This principle applies regardless of the privacy settings. While he doesn't mention it by name, Myerson makes a clear dig at Google which does scan user emails.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you reassured by Microsoft's new comments? Do you still believe Windows 10 collects and sends too much data to Microsoft? Should Microsoft have made all data collection opt-in rather than have it switched on by default?

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Comments

Dennis Faas's picture

I think Microsoft is taking a page out of Google and Facebook's 'privacy and technology' playbook, whereby innovation sidesteps the need to inform users exactly what is happening with their information.

Since the smartphone revolution began, it became increasingly clear that collecting user data in order to make things "convenient and easy to use" is paramount. But as the title of this comment suggests, there's a fine line between privacy and technology - especially if you find it useful.

The problem is most people won't find it useful unless they try it - or unless some big company forces it down their throat. And, if Microsoft doesn't innovate, they will be crushed by the competition and quickly forgotten.

KenKoehler's picture

Can someone tell me how to opt out of or disable Microsoft's ability to COLLECT my WiFi data (e.g. SSID and passphrase)? I've read that you can opt out of them disbursing it but not prevent them from collecting it.
Please keep this distinction in mind when reading or writing about privacy issues, be it Microsoft or Google.

Syscob Support's picture

By collecting information without my EXPLICIT agreement, i.e. by doing it by default, they are in clear violation of federal privacy laws. When the class action suit is initiated please post the contact information here so that I may join the suit.

kitekrazy's picture

When Apple releases something people flock to it. When MS releases something it makes people angry. Why can't a MS CEO get it right? The W10 release has been nothing but confusion. Free W10 is an apology for W8. I'm finding more fence sitters using W7. It's a shame since W10 is a good OS. No matter how good the punch tastes MS finds a way to piss in the punch bowl.

Syscob Support's picture

MS has blown every release since Win7 because they see a new OS as a marketing tool to increase revenue rather than a software improvement. With Win8 they tried to turn every PC into a mobile phone to boost sales of Windows phones—which suck. With Win10 they gave back a start button, but hide all non-MS apps. Instead of trying to sell vulnerable MS Office, and other, apps and allow themselves access to make whatever changes they want without user permission, or even notification, why don't they make the OS more secure? Answer: they do not care about users—only revenue!