Speaking to PC World, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore explained that Windows 10 is constantly tracking how it operates and how you are using it and sending that information back to Microsoft by default. More importantly he also confirmed that, despite offering some options to turn elements of tracking off, core data collection simply cannot be stopped:
“In the cases where we’ve not provided options, we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system,” he said.
Still, whether or not you agree with Belfiore’s standpoint that this doesn’t invade user privacy, it does seem strange that it has taken Microsoft so long to come clean and admit core Windows 10 background data collection processes cannot be stopped. Instead it gave the impression that turning off all user accessible spying options in Windows 10 settings would provide owners with full privacy – that’s tantamount to spying.
This comes in combination with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users’ ability to permanently disable automatic updates which are forced upon consumers and shows the growing divide between how Microsoft is treating consumers versus corporations.
So how concerned should users be about Windows 10’s default data collection policies? I would say very.
By default Windows 10 Home is allowed to control your bandwidth usage, install any software it wants whenever it wants (without providing detailed information on what these updates do), display ads in the Start Menu (currently it has been limited to app advertisements), send your hardware details and any changes you make to Microsoft and even log your browser history and keystrokes which the Windows End User Licence Agreement (EULA) states you allow Microsoft to use for analysis.
“One of the ways we measure our progress with Windows 10 is looking at how people are using Windows,”
but what is even crazier is the revelation that Microsoft is tracking exactly how and how long every single user is using Windows 10.
- Over 44.5 billion minutes spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in just the last month
- Over 2.5 billion questions asked of Cortana since launch
- Over 82 billion photos viewed within the Windows 10 Photo app
- In 2015 gamers spent over 4 billion hours playing PC games on Windows 10
- Gamers streamed over 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs
Yes, Microsoft admitted it not only logs its users time on Windows 10 but also their time using Microsoft Edge… and gaming… and streaming games… and counting your search queries… and every single time a user opens a photo.