Since Windows 10 was launched in 2015, one of the big debates has been Microsoft’s approach to privacy in the new version. Windows 10 is a platform as intrinsically connected to the internet as a smartphone. You’ll see this in integrated features such as the Cortana digital assistant, location aware services, your Microsoft Account and the Windows Store. Although Microsoft has made initial efforts toward ensuring users have a choice about what they share with the company, there’s lingering uneasiness among the user base about how much personal information is shared, why it’s shared, and whether or not it’s necessary for the basic functions of the operating system.
Today, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, announced details about the company’s upcoming plans for the next revision of Windows 10 (dubbed the Creators Update) and its approach to privacy.
Privacy Improvements Coming to Windows 10 Creators Update
The new version of Windows 10 will provide a refined experience, whether you are upgrading from a previous release of Windows or performing a new install. According to Myerson’s announcement, Microsoft is “making some changes by simplifying the privacy settings themselves and improving the way we present the privacy settings to you.” Users will be able to easily review and modify settings during setup and after they are up and running with Windows 10.
The new set up experience replaces the previous “Express Settings,” which automatically shared the maximum amount of data with Microsoft, including using your advertising ID for targeted ads, sharing your contacts, and using information about your typing. In the new setup experience, you won’t be able to say “yes” to all this without carefully reviewing your privacy settings.
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. Source
What this means is users will be able to better understand what they are consenting to. Users will be able to choose between a basic or full mode during the Out of Box Experience. Express Settings will no longer be available.
Microsoft Privacy Dashboard Available Now
Microsoft is also providing a web-based dashboard where users will have easy access to data such as browsing history, search history, location activity, and Cortana’s Notebook. The privacy dashboard is available immediately to all users—just log into your Microsoft account and click the Privacy tab. From there, you can see what data’s been collected and you can change your settings or clear your data.
In my opinion, Windows 10 was already doing a good job of letting you know what kind of data was being shared and giving you the option to disable it. This continued effort to allow users more visibility and control over what kind of personal data is collected is still a welcome improvement.
If you have been hesitant to upgrade to Windows 10, will these new improvements nudge you to upgrade? Let us know in the comments.