Windows 10 Malicious Keylogger Claims 'Overblown'

John Lister's picture

Reports that Windows 10 Technical Preview contain spyware-like features have been dismissed as overblown. However, the issue should raise awareness of some of the limitations of using preview software.

Several news outlets have made startling claims about Windows 10 Technical Preview, suggesting it collects confidential data; some have gone as far to suggest that the operating system contains a keylogger. That's a nasty feature found in some malicious software that tracks what you type on your keyboard, looking for sensitive information such as passwords or financial account details, then often relaying that information to a third-party.

The threat of keyloggers is why some online banks don't ask you to type your entire password or pass code; instead, they might ask you to type the third, fifth and ninth characters. That way, if a third party receives information from a keylogger, it might not be enough for them to login and use your account.

Microsoft Privacy Statement Reveals Data Handling

The stories turn out to be based on wording in Microsoft's privacy statement for Windows 10 Technical Preview. It does in fact state that Microsoft can collect data such as characters you type, or spoken commands that you issue while using the operating system.

That said, many of the stories found online don't mention that Microsoft has already explained how it will use these details. In its defense, Microsoft says it uses typed characters as a way to improve features such as auto complete and spell-check in applications such as Microsoft Word. Similarly, it uses voice information to check how it could improve speech-to-text features. (Source:

Indeed, collecting and using data in this way - along with information such as how and when Windows 10 crashes, or which devices it has compatibility problems with - is exactly why Microsoft has issued this test edition, including why it's available to the general public. While it's nice for users to get a preview and become familiar with new features and interfaces, it's primarily function is to be a research project. (Source:

Technical Preview Not Ready For Everyday Use

Despite Microsoft's assurances, the news should serve as a reminder that it's not recommended to use Windows 10 Technical Preview for your day to day computing, and particularly not any confidential data.

Even though Microsoft may have measures to safeguard the way it collects and stores such data, it's not inconceivable that this incomplete version of Windows 10 may have bugs that could unintentionally expose data to third parties, or create opportunities for hackers to exploit security flaws. There's also a chance it could crash, freeze, or lose data altogether.

Windows 10 Technical Preview: Caveats and Other Info

If you've not yet read it, check out Dennis' guide on Windows 10 Technical Preview: Download and Overview and, just as importantly, why doing so is not for everyone. In a separate article, Dennis also explains why installing Windows 10 Technical Preview as a virtual machine has its advantages.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you trust Microsoft to properly handle the data it collects during this test period of Windows 10 Technical Preview? Should Microsoft do more to highlight the data it collects, and the reasons it is needed? Do you think that data collection used in Windows 10 Technical Preview is a 'price worth paying' in order to have advanced access to the next generation of Windows due in 2015?

Rate this article: 
Average: 4 (4 votes)