For the past two months, I’ve been on a lonely crusade, proving again and again that the so-called privacy issues in Windows 10 are nothing more than over-wrought complaints from ill-wishers and the tin-hat crowd. Today, Microsoft finally took up its own defense. And as you might expect, it says that Windows 10 does not violate your privacy.
“From the very beginning, we designed Windows 10 with two straightforward privacy principles in mind,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson writes in a post to Blogging Windows. “Windows 10 collects information so the product will work better for you. And you are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.”
That should have been obvious to anyone except those who have an ax to grind—my theory is that Windows 10 is so good, making up and exaggerating privacy issues was their only recourse. But Microsoft has also posted two separate sites,one for consumers and one for businesses, that go into greater detail.
Some key points:
Encrypted. With Windows 10, information Microsoft collects is encrypted in transit to its servers, and then stored in secure facilities.
Data is anonymous. Microsoft says it collects “a limited amount of information to provide a secure and reliable experience.” This data includes anonymous device ID, device type, and application crash data. It does not include “any of your content or files, and we take several steps to avoid collecting any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or account ID.”
Some data is personal. Cortana of course needs access to your personal information, that’s how a personal assistant works. But, as Microsoft points out, “you are in control of the information [it] collects for these purposes and can update your settings at any time. Note that with new features like Cortana which require more personal information to deliver the full experience, you are asked if you want to turn them on and are given additional privacy customization options.”
No data is collected for advertising, ever. Unlike Android, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software “scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you.” This is true no matter what privacy options you choose.
Your feedback is improving matters. Microsoft says that it is responding to in-product feedback to improve how it communicates privacy issues to its users. “As an example of direct response to feedback we’ve received, all Windows 10 customers will receive an upcoming update to family features, with default settings designed to be more appropriate for teenagers, compared to younger children,” Myerson explains. “Additionally, we’re working on ways to further enhance the notifications that kids and parents get about activity reporting in Windows. We’ll also release updates for enterprise customers based on their feedback later this fall.”