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What Microsoft says about Privacy and Windows 10

Microsoft published a post with the title Privacy and Windows 10 back in September 2015 on the official Windows Experience Blog to address rising privacy concerns.

According to Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft designed Windows 10 with two “straightforward privacy principles” in mind.

Windows 10 collects information so the product will work better for you.

You are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.

Myerson goes on to explain that Microsoft thinks of data that the company does and does not collect in three different levels:

  1. Safety and Reliability data – This data is collected to “provide a secure and reliable experience”. It includes data such as an anonymous device ID, device type, and application crash data which Microsoft and its developer partners use to improve application reliability.
  2. Personalization data – This data is used to provide users with a custom experience, for instance by providing text completion suggestions, using the digital assistant Cortana, or giving users updates on game scores when their favorite teams play.
  3. Advertising data that Microsoft does not collect – Microsoft won’t collect content of emails or other communications, or files, to deliver targeted advertising.

Privacy Dashboard in 2017

In 2017, Myerson published two additional privacy focused articles on the Windows 10 Experience blog.

The new Privacy Dashboard was announced in the first entitled Our continuing commitment to your privacy with Windows 10 . The new online dashboard provides options to Windows users who sign in to Windows using a Microsoft Account to control activity data that is collected by Microsoft products such as Windows 10.

Improving the Windows 10 Setup

Microsoft announced as well that it would improve the privacy part of the setup experience, simplify diagnostic data levels, and reduce data collected at the Basic level (of Telemetry).

First, we will introduce a new set up experience for you to choose the settings that are right for you.

This experience, which replaces previous Express Settings, will look slightly different depending on the version of Windows you are using. 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.

Telemetry level reduction

Microsoft made the decision to reduce Telemetry levels from three to two configurable levels in the Settings application of the Windows 10 Creators Update version. The company removed the Enhanced level, leaving Basic and Full as the two remaining options during Setup and in the Settings application.

Myerson confirmed that Microsoft reduced the data that is collected when the Basic level is enabled.

We use this data to help keep Windows and apps secure, up-to-date, and running properly when you let Microsoft know the capabilities of your device, what is installed, and whether Windows is operating correctly.

This option also includes basic error reporting back to Microsoft.

Three months later, in April 2017, Myerson published Windows 10 privacy journey continues: more transparency and controls for you on the Windows Experience blog.

In it he revealed three enhancements to privacy on Windows 10.

  1. In-product information improvements by adding short descriptions and learn more links to privacy settings to help customers better understand each.
  2. An update to the Microsoft Privacy statement to include more information about the privacy changes in the Creators Update.
  3. Publication of more information about the data that Microsoft collects.

Marisa Rogers, WDG Privacy Officer, revealed in September 2017 on the official Windows Experience blog that privacy enhancements were coming to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

She listed three improvements in the article:

  1. Direct access to the privacy statement during setup, and links next to the available privacy settings during setup that lead to the privacy statement paragraph that refers to it.
  2. Permission prompts not only for location data but also other data that Windows Store applications request such as camera, microphone, contacts, or calendar.
  3. A new Window Analytics setting for Enterprise customers.

The April 2018 update

windows 10 setup privacy

Microsoft announced in March 2018 that it changed the privacy options during setup or first launch of the Windows 10 operating system.

The new functionality adds two new privacy choices to the setup experience and A/B tests two different configuration designs next to that.

Windows 10 users may control “Find my Device” and “Inking & Typing” during setup.

  • Find my Device uses location-based data to help customers locate a misplaced or stolen device.
  • Inking & Typing on the other hand controls whether data is submitted to Microsoft.

Microsoft uses two different privacy setup experiences. The company displays all privacy options on a single page (like it has been before) or displays each privacy option on individual pages.

Updated on April 29, 2018

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