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article imageMicrosoft explains new privacy settings in Windows 10 update

By James Walker     Apr 5, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has revealed the details of how Windows telemetry works and what it collects. The announcement improves the transparency of Windows 10's often shady privacy arrangements, addressing some major concerns since the platform's launch.
Windows 10's consumer versions come with always-on telemetry that cannot be fully disabled. It's used so the company can monitor how and when features are accessed, determine what is working well, needs work and should be dropped and assess overall satisfaction. This is what Microsoft has been saying for the past two years, at least.
Today, it finally published a blog post many have been wanting to read since 2015. The company is transitioning to a more informative privacy model that will place clear labels alongside Windows privacy controls and create less confusing privacy policies. This will debut with the Windows 10 Creators Update, set to start rolling out from next week and available for manual install today.
Before you install the Creators Update, you'll be forced to review your current privacy settings and confirm everything is working to your satisfaction. The controls will include a description of what each option does, the information that's collected and how it's used. People who are installing Windows 10 from scratch on a new PC will be shown the privacy setup screen as part of the getting started process.
Improved Windows 10 Creators Update privacy controls
Improved Windows 10 Creators Update privacy controls
Once installed, the Privacy page in the Settings menu contains the same descriptions of what each option does, as well as "Learn More" buttons to get more detailed information online. This replaces the less informative "Get going fast" and "Customise settings" optional screens currently used today. People frequently missed the link to tailor their privacy settings on the "Customise" screen, inadvertently accepting the "fast" defaults and opting in to Microsoft's predefined choices.
Microsoft has clearly put more thought into the design of the new screen. It now uses a two-column layout, eliminating the need to scroll down to ensure you don't miss options at the bottom. There's a prominent "Learn more" button and you have to explicitly "Accept" your choices to proceed with setup. A similar system will be used for Windows 10 Mobile.
Improved Windows 10 Creators Update privacy controls
Improved Windows 10 Creators Update privacy controls
For people who want to know exactly what Microsoft is tracking, the company has posted a highly detailed list of every diagnostic event and telemetry field it collects from Windows 10. This covers generic data as part of the diagnostic messages, device connectivity information, product usage data and fields on content consumption, browsing, search and many others.
Microsoft said it will help make privacy-conscious users make more informed choices when configuring Windows 10 devices. This is exactly what these users have been requesting over the past two years.
Microsoft said it's committed to continuing to improve its stance on privacy and will make further progress in the next Windows 10 update. It's also preparing to add more data types to the Microsoft privacy dashboard, a tool that lets you delete your data from Microsoft services. Voice queries retrieved from Cortana will be added this month.
"We are on a journey with you and fully committed to putting you in control and providing the information you need to make informed decisions about your privacy," said Microsoft. "The Windows 10 Creators Update is a significant step forward, but by no means the end of our journey."
The improvements to Windows privacy should help Microsoft's ongoing efforts to recover from the most damaging parts of the Windows 10 upgrade campaign. While the operating system has been welcomed by many users, a significant proportion remain on older versions due to concerns about Microsoft's use of telemetry tracking.
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, windows 10 creators update, Privacy
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