Privacy-conscious users will be happy to hear about Microsoft's latest addition to Windows 10, which adds transparency in terms of data collection, and finally let users see what information is being sent for analysis to Microsoft. The Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer makes it more convenient for users to see what data Microsoft is gathering, but won't do much to actually help users stop the company from getting their hands on the data in the first place. To halt data collection, you'll need a different version of Windows 10, one you can't exactly buy from your local Harvey Norman.
Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty
Before you can see any data, you'll need to enable data viewing. Visit your Settings, Privacy Settings, and Diagnostics & Feedback. Enable the Data viewing option to give the app access to your data being sent to Microsoft. The viewer is currently available to Windows Insider Program users, but should be more widely available once the update is rolled out to consumers.
Stopping Data Collection Is Complicated
But let's say you're opposed to sending any data whatsoever to Microsoft - a valid opinion if you're concerned about the security of your personal usage habits. There is one way to avoid the data collection issue, but unless you're willing to forgo future updates, the workaround is probably not the greatest solution. You'll have to use a particular version of Windows 10, one that lacks the benefit of regular consumer-friendly updates or features, and might make you reconsider whether or not your data privacy is worth some new bells and whistles.
While Microsoft sells multiple versions of Windows 10 to both consumers and businesses, only Windows 10 Enterprise Edition features the option of prohibiting the transmission of data to Microsoft. Want your own Enterprise Edition of Windows 10? Well, a proper, activated version is only available if you're activating it through Microsoft's Volume Licensing program designed for businesses rather than nerdy consumers.
You can, however, test drive a version of Windows 10 Enterprise Edition if you have a Windows 10 Pro licence on your PC. All you need is a KMS (key management service) setup key, which Microsoft provides for connecting client machines to KMS host machines run by companies.
If you don't have the Enterprise version of Windows 10, or can't get access to a legitimate product key, you can use the previously mentioned key to upgrade your already activated Windows 10 Pro machine. Note: Upgrading with this key means you'll be using a version of Windows 10 that is not activated.
That means you'll get security updates, but might miss out on consumer-friendly updates adding new features (such as the Fall Creator's Update). If you're cool with that, and just want a Windows PC that isn't spying on you, upgrade your version of Windows 10 with the key provided by Microsoft. Visit Settings > Update & Security > Activation, and paste the Windows 10 Enterprise activation key.