Windows 10 Gets Privacy Boost

John Lister's picture

Microsoft is to give Windows 10 users more details about exactly what an app is able to do on their computer. It's a similar security measure to that available on some mobile device apps.

Until now, apps only usually have to get a Windows user's permission when they want to access location data, for example in a mapping tool. That's changing with the 2017 Fall Creators Update, the next major twice-yearly feature update for Windows 10.

Microphone and Webcam Access Need Permission

The change means apps will need the user's permission to access key hardware components on the computer such as a microphone or webcam. They'll also need permission to access sensitive data such as the Windows contacts and calendar tools.

The app will show a request window the first time they try to access the component or data, with the user answering a straight yes or no question. However, users can change their mind later in the privacy section of the Windows settings menu. (Source:

It's important to note this will only apply to "apps" installed through the Microsoft Store. More traditional programs that the user downloads and installs from third party website won't require the permissions.

Being able to control access in this granular way is reminiscent of the security settings for apps on Android devices. As with Android, refusing access could mean some or all features of the app don't work. However, the measure can also combat rogue apps as users may notice that the app is asking for access to data or components that don't seem necessary for the app's advertised purposes.

Privacy Policy Made Clearer

Microsoft is making some other privacy changes to Windows itself, though it will be too late for existing users. When setting up a new Windows 10 device for the first time, users will now be able to not only read Microsoft's privacy statement in full (which is something of a time-consuming and off-putting process) but also jump directly to specific sections.

The links to these sections will be accessible through a "Learn More" button that appears when users have to make initial choices about privacy settings. The idea here is that accessing the privacy statement will let them make more informed choices. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is Microsoft right to make apps ask for more specific permissions when accessing components and data? Will you review and change the specific settings for apps or is this too much hassle? Have you ever read the privacy statement when setting up Windows?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (6 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

My experience on Android is that many apps require permissions to just about everything on the phone. If you don't agree to the permissions, the app either closes or doesn't work. As such, many users (myself included) simply agree to the terms so that we can get on with using the app in question because there simply isn't another alternative. It's important to note that I don't keep anything sensitive on my phone because phones are far too easy to 'hack.'

I can see that Microsoft is trying to follow suit by providing a more granular level of control as with Android, but I suspect the result will be similar to my experience. Most users are too accustomed to clicking "next" and "accept" to "make it work" that they don't fully understand or care about the repercussions.

Jim's picture

There are certain android apps which will feed "fake data" to other apps. For example: that flashlight app wants access to your contacts list? Tell it that my only contact is

Of course, then you have to trust the author of the fake-data-feeder app. There's the rub. Probably requires root, too. I have never used any of these apps myself, just wanted to let people know that they do exist.

rohnski's picture

Now we just have to wait to see how it is implemented 'in practice'.

I think you are right, initially most apps will ask for global access. But it is a good thing to know. It allows us to make the choice, to use the app or not. If it is asking for inappropriate access we can complain to the creator.

Lets face it, the PC environment still has it's DOS legacy of applications designed for a single standalone (not network connected) computer. That is not a legitimate excuse for smartphone apps, even they do the same.

lepitbull's picture

I think Microsoft is going a bit Nuts with all these Password things. I think I have
enough and wasting time searching for passwords. I have a Book of all of my Windows 10
passwords for all my apps (A loss of productivity). I can see it in a public computer
or an office system used by many, passwords may protect some. I installed a Solitaire
from the Windows store last week and it asked me for a password and a Login to play a
game. I removed it. But a home system with only me using my system. it is so useless
and irritating. Microsoft should have a Button to click on that asks 'How Many users
on this system ?:' Clink on "1" and it will remove the all of those tedious passwords
I have over 27 just for Windows 10. SOON: Want to use the Toilet : Enter password. Want
to eat dinner: Enter password. Want to kiss girlfriend enter user name and Password.
Like come on Microsoft, enough is enough.