Here’s How Microsoft Can Fix Windows 10’s Privacy Issues (Premium)

As I wrote earlier today, the Dutch Data Protection Agency (DDA) has potentially found more privacy violations in Windows 10 and its rampant (if benign) data collection. Instead of offering substantive change, Microsoft has in turn said that it “looks forward to” adding “more tools and choices” in Windows 10, which will, of course, further muck up and complicate what should be a simple interface.

I’ve written a lot on this topic in the past, and about how Microsoft should simply market all of its products and services, including Windows 10, on their privacy merits. But as I noted in Microsoft Just Lost the Windows 10 Privacy FUD War (Premium) over two years ago, by continually focusing on the interface by which users can “configure” data collection in Windows 10, Microsoft has lost the battle. The issue isn’t “how” users can configure data collection. It’s that users can’t turn off data collection.

Doing so will not harm Windows 10: There are almost one billion people using this system and even if a sizable chunk of them went to the effort of turning off all data collection, it would still have a big enough audience from which to derive anonymous telemetry data. The system that maybe made sense when Windows 10 was new---after all, the software giant needed data to make sure it could update the system on the aggressive new Windows as a Service (WaaS) schedule---no longer applies.

So now they can do the right thing.

It’s overdue. In Windows 10 today, users are confronted by this confusing screen when this sign-in for the first time.

And those who literally are concerned about privacy can navigate to Settings (WINKEY + I) > Privacy and find an astounding 27 (!) pages of privacy settings through which to read, understand, and hopefully configure correctly. Most people will, of course, simply give up. Assuming they even find this interface in the first place. It’s a mess.

What I’m reminded of is a tweet I wrote three years ago when I visited the FedEx website to track a package. At the time, its home page was a confusing mix of choices, and the one choice that most visitors would want---track a package---was nowhere to be found. Here's a Way Back Machine view of what it looked like on that date:

(You'll have to imagine the clutter added by the background image that's now missing.)

And this is what I said it should look like:

In that spirit, here is what that first privacy screen should look like in Windows 10 today.

Obviously, they’ll never do this.

But just adding such a switch on that initial privacy screen, and in Settings, would go a long way towards making this problem go away once and for all. Continually dicking around with the settings interface isn’t solving a real problem.

And here's the good news ending to this story: This is what the FedEx website looks like today:

See? Real and positive change can occur.

Gain unlimited access to Premium articles.

With technology shaping our everyday lives, how could we not dig deeper?

Thurrott Premium delivers an honest and thorough perspective about the technologies we use and rely on everyday. Discover deeper content as a Premium member.

Tagged with

Share post

Please check our Community Guidelines before commenting

Windows Intelligence In Your Inbox

Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thurrott © 2024 Thurrott LLC