Microsoft will be collecting less tracking information about its users on Windows 10 and will give them more control over their privacy. There has been criticism about Microsoft's perceived heavy-handed data collection methods since Windows 10 was launched in 2015. Now the company wants to win back the trust of its customers. Here's are the changes it has made to Windows 10 to improve privacy on the operating system.
Controversy started when it was discovered that Windows 10 had a bunch of telemetry services that automatically run in the background and cannot be easily switched off. Despite the fact Microsoft has continuously stuck to its guns about how the data that is collected is used to improve the operating system, many users thought the use of those telemetry services were tantamount to spying.
Whether you agree or disagree with the accusations of Windows 10 spying on its users, it’s a matter of perception; there are enough users out there that are concerned about their privacy on Windows 10 that Microsoft is finally doing more about it.
Now, the vendor has introduced a new web-based dashboard to give customers greater control over the their tracking information and some changes to the way it collects data on Windows 10.
Web-Based Privacy Dashboard
Windows 10 users have to sign into the operating system using a Microsoft account and data that is collected is associated with that account. Also, if Cortana is turned on, the digital assistant will collect data about a users' activities across various Microsoft services.
With the new privacy dashboard, users can see what information has been collected including Microsoft Edge browsing history, Bing search history, location activities through GPS and preferences recorded by Cortana.
Not only are you able to see the data that your Microsoft account has on you, the dashboard allows you to clear that information.
You can visit the Microsoft Account page, sign in and use the Privacy dashboard now and the vendor is planning to add more features to it in the future. According to a blog post by Microsoft executive vice-president of Windows and Device group Terry Myerson:
"This 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."
New Windows 10 Privacy Settings
There are a lot of new features that will be introduced in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update. Now the update will include privacy changes as well.
For those who are planning to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 with Creators Update when its released, the privacy settings that you can choose from will be more fleshed out in the set-up process. If you are already using Windows 10, Microsoft will use notifications to prompt you to choose your privacy settings.
Windows Insiders will be able to see the new setup process in an upcoming Insider's build release, which will look something like this:
Another privacy change Microsoft is bringing to the Windows 10 Creators Update is the reduction of data that is collected at the Basic level. As Myerson explains:
"This includes data that is vital to the operation of Windows. 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."
Having said that, there still won't be an option to turn off telemetry services completely on Windows 10.
It's always great to see companies taking privacy concerns seriously and it's encouraging to know one of the biggest tech giants in the world is finally taking action. The privacy dashboard is a welcome addition and I'm keen to see Microsoft make more improvements to it in the future.
While Microsoft is reducing the collection of data at the Basic level on Windows 10, it would have been nice to see the company introduce an option for users to turn off telemetry completely. Sure, Microsoft wants to use the data to improve Windows 10 but the company could give users the choice to have their information collected or not.
What do you think about the new privacy changes Microsoft has brought in? Let us know in the comments.