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article imageMicrosoft to let Windows 10 users view their telemetry data

By James Walker     Jan 25, 2018 in Technology
Microsoft's announced the next version of Windows 10 will include an app that lets you view the diagnostic data collected from your device. After facing criticism of its telemetry for years, Microsoft said it now wants to "increase trust" in its products.
Control your data
Since Windows 10's launch in 2015, the operating system has found itself under frequent attack by privacy groups. Although Microsoft has previously attempted to address the concerns around its use of telemetry, it this week announced a significant shift in the way it will approach Windows privacy.
Windows 10 Diagnostic Data Viewer app
Windows 10 Diagnostic Data Viewer app
Microsoft
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The next Windows 10 update promises to give you more control over the diagnostic data collected from your device. A revised online Privacy Dashboard will enable you to see and manage all of the data linked to your Microsoft account. On your device itself, you'll be able to install the "Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer" app to manually inspect the files being uploaded to Microsoft.
For the first time since Windows 10's launch, you'll be able to see exactly what's being monitored and when it is being sent. Diagnostic information is sorted into different categories. These include general device data, such as the exact Windows version, and more specific details about your hardware, installed apps and usage.
"Trust and confidence"
Some of the data Microsoft collects includes details about accessories connected to your PC, a list of installed applications and their update history, device reliability metrics and statistics on the services and apps you use the most. Microsoft also said that some data includes details of your media consumption and file search activities, although it stressed this is "not intended" to directly capture user viewing habits.
"To kick off the new year ahead of Data Privacy Day we are giving our Windows Insiders an early preview of the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer coming in our next release of Windows," said Microsoft. "Our commitment is to be fully transparent on the diagnostic data collected from your Windows devices, how it is used, and to provide you with increased control over that data. This is all part of our commitment to increase your trust and confidence in our products and services."
Windows 10 Diagnostic Data Viewer app
Windows 10 Diagnostic Data Viewer app
Microsoft
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The launch of the Diagnostic Data Viewer appears to be a step forward for Microsoft's approach to privacy. Windows users will now be able to inspect what gets uploaded, which could help to address misconceptions around what telemetry's actually doing.
Even so, it's unclear how accessible the app will be to end users. Microsoft's current screenshots show raw JSON-encoded data files, with no simple explanation of what each category collects. Although the files will be readily understood by developers, general consumers could be confused by the data's presentation.
Microsoft said it is continuing to improve Windows 10's privacy in response to user feedback. It confirmed the Diagnostic Data Viewer app will launch in the next release of Windows 10, expected in the spring. It is already available to Windows Insiders. The improvements to the online Privacy Dashboard are also starting to roll out, with more enhancements set to arrive "in the coming months."
More about Microsoft, windows 10, telemetry, Privacy, Devices