Privacy is one of the hot topics when it comes to Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10. The company has been criticized for making it difficult for users to block or minimize telemetry data collection, and for not being very forthcoming in regards to data that it collects, and how that data is being analyzed and used.
Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, announced privacy changes coming to Windows 10 yesterday in a new blog post on the official Windows Experience blog.
In a nutshell: Microsoft will improve the privacy set up experience and privacy settings in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update, and it has launched a new online privacy dashboard that Microsoft customers can check out to control collected data.
Microsoft: Your Privacy
You can load https://account.microsoft.com/privacy#/ in your browser of choice to open the new “Your Privacy” page on the Microsoft Account website.
The privacy dashboard on Microsoft’s website lists data from four sources currently:
- Microsoft Edge browsing data. This is only sent to Microsoft if you are logged in to Windows with a Microsoft account, and have turned on browsing history in Cortana.
- Bing search data. When you search on Bing while being logged in to the Microsoft account.
- Location information taken from Bing and Microsoft Health GPS-based activities.
- Cortana’s Notebook reveals your interests.
You can clear the data directly from the privacy website. Each page lists frequently asked questions on top of that.
Myerson notes that this is the first step only, and that Microsoft will improve the “your privacy” site to add more functionality and categories of data over time to it.
Creators Update Privacy Changes
Microsoft plans to simplify privacy settings and improve how privacy settings are presented to Windows users in the Windows 10 Creators Update.
One of the core changes is that Microsoft will reduce the number of diagnostic data collection levels from three to two. The Enhanced level will be removed, so that only Basic and Full are available (and Security in some versions).
Windows customers who have selected Enhanced will be asked to pick Basic or Full after the upgrade to the Creators Update.
Microsoft furthermore announced that it will reduce the data collection of the basic level. Myerson did not reveal what Microsoft intents to change though in this regard.
The company plans to improve the “privacy settings” experience for users as well. One part of this is a new privacy setup dialog that provides you with information on privacy settings.
Information includes the impact of turning off a privacy setting.
It remains to be seen how effective those privacy changes are in convincing Windows users that they are in control of their privacy.
While some will certainly welcome these changes, it is clear that they are not as far reaching as privacy advocates would like them to be. There is still no clear option to block any data collecting and sending to Microsoft, and the information provided in some areas is not as complete as users may want it to be.
Now You: What is your take on the announced changes?