Microsoft Becomes a Bit More Transparent About Windows 10 and Privacy

Posted on January 10, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 28 Comments

Microsoft Becomes a Bit More Transparent About Windows 10 and Privacy

Microsoft announced today that it is creating a new web-based privacy dashboard and changing Windows 10 Setup to be more transparent about its privacy settings.

“Trust is a core pillar of our More Personal Computing vision, and we are working hard to make sure Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever and a product you love and trust,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson wrote in a blog post today. “Based on your feedback, we are launching two new experiences to help ensure you are in control of your privacy.”

First, Microsoft is creating a web-based privacy dashboard on the Microsoft Account website (the configuration of which I just wrote about, go figure) called Your Privacy.

“You can see and control your activity data from Microsoft including location, search, browsing, and Cortana Notebook data across multiple Microsoft services,” Mr. Myerson explains. “his is our first step in expanding the tools that give you visibility and control over your data spanning Microsoft products and services, and we will continue to add more functionality and categories of data over time.”

So that is useful. But I am far more interested to see what they’re doing in Windows 10, where Microsoft is completely replacing Express Settings in Setup.

“We’re introducing in Windows 10 a new privacy set up experience, simplifying Diagnostic data levels and further reducing the data collected at the Basic level,” Myerson writes. “If you are moving from Windows 7 or Windows 8, or doing a fresh install of Windows 10, the new set up experience will clearly show you simple but important settings and you will need to choose your settings before you can move forward with setup. If you are already using Windows 10, we will use notifications to prompt you to choose your privacy settings. We’ll introduce this process in an upcoming Windows Insider build soon.”

Microsoft is also reducing the amount of data collected for diagnostics, which should please the privacy police.


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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Microsoft Becomes a Bit More Transparent About Windows 10 and Privacy”

  1. 2525

    That's a nice screen.

    From MS' point of view, most people will still just click through and end up with what effectively was "express".  So the majority will still get the same defaults.

    It will stop the complaints about MS try to invade privacy, etc (never mind that some of those same people then happily let Google know where they are at all times, etc).

    It will prevent "surprise" for those who did take the express settings and then read a scary article since they were clearly presented with choices up front and accepted them.

    Win - win.

  2. 9562

    "We are launching two new experiences"

    Oh for the love of PR-speak, beating around the bush.  New UI on the same old settings.

    How about let customers "experience" a true DIAGNOSTICS = OFF switch instead.  But I guess they want 10 adoption to remain stuck at 24%.

  3. 2371

    In reply to SherlockHolmes:  The only "Ads" I see in Windows 10 are for the store.  That is a big difference from showing you ads for the next stupid gadget someone is trying to sucker you into purchasing.  From what I understand if you don't want app recommendations you can turn them off (but I am not sure about that).  I have never found the ads annoying or harassing, or even in the way.  Maybe others do, but I do not.


  4. 6525

    Reduced diagnostics data (other than explicitly requested by the user on demand) continues to be telemetry privacy violation and fundamentally very much less privacy than in Windows 10 Enterprise or a well configured Windows 7 Pro. Microsoft, this is still your trust failure! We do not need a less harmful Basic as the minimal level but Deactivated. Besides I want to know if 1 click will be enough to achieve best privacy and minimal (should be: no) privacy violation will be the default.

  5. 5462

    One button. I want one button that says don't contact Microsoft or anyone associated with Microsoft for any reason beyond what is necessary to keep Windows updated. It's not that hard.

  6. 5456

    So why now? Why not at the launch of Windows 10?

    The next thing that has to go is ads in Windows 10. MSFT always needs to fall on its feet before doing the right thing.

    And the stupid "You cant disable the stupid lockscreen" rule. You dont need a lockscreen on a desktop PC.

    • 1561

      In reply to SherlockHolmes:

      Why not at the inception of the Internet? Because they're always evolving the services. Ads are also an evolution of an OS that has become basically free/subsidized for the masses. It's easy enough to curtail the suggestions in the the Start menu and taskbar. If you don't want ads in apps, then use paid apps. If you don't want them in your OS, use a Pro version of Windows. Simple as that.

      • 5456

        In reply to gregsedwards:

        Collecting data is a service? A lockscreen on a PC is a service? If it is so, I as the customer have the right to cancel a service. MSFT denies me that right from the start of Windows 10.

      • 5234

        In reply to gregsedwards:

        You're kidding right?  The OS is paid as a royalty by OEM's.  Microsoft already gets paid for it.  You're saying that Microsoft should get MORE money, because the billions in royalties that OEM's pay isn't enough, that they have to tax users too??!

        • 5664

          In reply to Waethorn:

          Have you seen these ads? It's things like a "Recommended in the Store" bit at the bottom of the new Share sheet offering software that is relevant to the type of data you're sharing. It's suggested titles for working with Ink in the Ink Workspace. It might be a little MSN banner in the MSN apps.

          They're not taking over the display and showing you a TV commercial, or putting animated banners in titlebars.

          I don't want to see them either, and I've filed reams of feedback about it, but they're hardly anything to be furious about.

        • 1377

          In reply to Waethorn:

          What for-profit company doesn't have a legal obligation to maximize profits?

          I won't argue aesthetics because for me any & all ads are unwelcome, but I can live with deliberate, intentional money-grubbing. A fine American I!

      • 9215

        In reply to gregsedwards:

        If I am "purchasing" Windows at any level (Home, Pro, Enterprise etc) and expressly did not use the free upgrade offer - why are ads part of the equation at all?

        Looks to me like even if you did fork over cash for Windows 10 - ads are baked in anyway?




        • 5484

          In reply to BMcDonald:

          Why if you pay for your TV content (subscription, etc) do they still have ads?

          The real question is not whether you're paying, it's whether you are paying enough?

          That could be enough to recoup costs, it could be enough for a minor profit, or it could be enough for each MS shareholder to have a holiday in the Bahamas - that's really up to the seller in our capitalistic economy.

          The obvious choice is to not pay - which either means pirating or (as per Waethorn's suggestion) Linux (or Mac, or FreeBSD or something) - if that's not palatable, the costs are obviously not high enough yet for them to become an option for you.

        • 5234

          In reply to BMcDonald:

          You could use a modern Linux distribution....

    • 1377

      In reply to SherlockHolmes:

      So why now? Why not at the launch of Windows 10? . . .

      Because it was a hard computer science problem, and MSFT needed more time. /s

      Because they didn't, almost certainly because they didn't expect bad press for telemetry and automatic bug/problem reporting. Perhaps more fools they, but there's been just a wee bit of overstatement about MSFT violating user privacy. Nevertheless, sometimes perceptions matter more than reality, thus the new privacy settings.

      • 214

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Bingo. I was going to write almost exactly the same thing. I'll just add, it is also a hard human factors problem; ergo the importance of perceptions.

        Since no one had ever done this before it was terra incognita, the "unknown territory." I'd hazard a guess MS can now cut back on the telemetry because having collected and analyzed a great deal thereof, they now have knowledge about what is useful and what is not.

        And no users were harmed or trusts violated in the collection thereof, FUDdites be d _ _ _ _ d.

  7. 5486

    I think MS already broke that trust many months ago. It's almost like - they've done what they needed to do, however they needed to do it, and now they're going to try and make it sound like they actually care about user privacy, and eat some humble pie in the process. Similar to the report a couple of weeks back about MS now saying they were a 'bit too aggressive' with their upgrade tactics. It doesn't matter now, they've done it and achieved what they needed to, and honestly, they'd have known the repercussions of what they planned to do at the time. 

    Sorry MS, too little too late. Damage done. We're not going to have any sympathy for you at all. You're all big and grown up, and you've treated your users like cattle, herding them into where you wanted them to be. Losing a few along the way was acceptable I guess.

    • 9215

      In reply to ghostrider:

      True dat. Damage was done a long time ago.

      But without a big giant global Off switch - so I can slam the door on all privacy concerns and all extra telemetry - there is little point to these changes.


    • 5234

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I've seen this happen with their attitude towards small businesses (and especially partner resellers whose target market it is).  They treat the market as if, if small businesses don't want to work like large enterprises, Microsoft doesn't want to deal with them.  This is a start contrast over the messaging they had where small business was the next great growth market, since enterprise computing was already saturated.  They used to talk up the big great opportunity where small businesses were under-served by IT consultants and partner help.  They no longer do this.  It's just consumer and enterprise now.  Small business is NOWHERE in the partner discussion anymore.  I'm thinking a lot of consultants this year may be moving towards more self-controlled data solutions and less fluff of pay-by-the-minute cloud computing.