Microsoft comes clean on Windows 10 telemetry collection
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The next major update for the Windows 10 operating system (OS), called the Creators Update, will be rolling out for users on 11 April. With 400 million monthly active devices, globally, Microsoft is looking to add a bunch of new features as well as enhancements to PCs that also got the Anniversary Update last August. But the biggest change is that Microsoft is now releasing more information about the diagnostic data that it collects.
From every Windows PC, Microsoft collects a bunch of data, depending on how many options the user has kept on or off. For example, there will be collection of user search history, location if enabled and even certain app usage characteristics. Windows 10 will now get reconfigured privacy settings options, around the type of data that Microsoft logs and collects from your PC. While most of these settings can be turned off, there are some settings that can’t be—the lowest level they will go to is “Basic”, the other level being “Full”. Windows 10 would now be giving users descriptions and options for each privacy setting, to let them know better what each option is designed to, and whether they need to keep it on or off. There will be the option to disable location services, speech recognition for Cortana and whether to record Basic or Full level of diagnostics which will be shared with Microsoft.
The basic level of data collection will, Microsoft confirms, be restricted to program stability and crashes. Microsoft also says they have been working on the new privacy measures ever since last year’s Anniversary Update, and have re-assessed what data is strictly necessary to collect at the Basic level, to keep Windows 10 computing devices up to date with the latest performance and security patches. They have reduced the number of events collected and reduced, by about half, the volume of data that is collected at the Basic level.
When you install the Creators Update on your Windows 10 PC, you will be given the option to reconfigure any security options you may choose. If you are doing a reset or a clean install of the operating system, they’ll be made available to you at the time of setting up the PC.
It is still not known, however, how often your Windows 10 PC transmits data and telemetry back to Microsoft, and if the same quantity and specifics of data are collected from each PC. Be clear on one thing—Microsoft is now coming clean and is being more transparent about what all data it collects from your Windows 10 PC, but it still doesn’t give you a universal “Off” option—whether you like it or not, the software will still log details about how you use apps and what you search for.