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article imageMicrosoft axes Windows 10's controversial Wi-Fi password sharing

By James Walker     May 11, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has removed a controversial Windows 10 feature that automatically shared your Wi-Fi password with your Facebook friends and Outlook contacts. The company confirmed it has been axed going forward, citing a lack of use as the reason.
Microsoft released a new Windows 10 Insider Preview build yesterday, build 14342. While the main features of the update are improvements to Microsoft Edge and some interface changes, Microsoft also made special note of another change in the new build.
The company has removed Wi-Fi Sense from Windows 10, disabling one of its most controversial features at the time of its launch last year. Many people were concerned to discover Windows 10 automatically sharing their Wi-Fi password with friends and family, giving them access to their Wi-Fi networks without displaying a prompt or warning.
Wi-Fi Sense is a feature that debuted on Windows Phone in 2014. The initial reaction was very positive. Things only soured last year when it made the jump to Windows 10 and millions of new users were exposed to it for the first time.
The feature automatically shares your Wi-Fi network's password with your friends on Facebook and contacts on Skype and Outlook.com. It is enabled by default when you connect to a Wi-Fi network, giving your contacts access to your router if they own a Windows 10 device and also have Wi-Fi Sense turned on.
Your contacts never get to see your actual password as they receive Internet access and nothing else. The credentials are stored securely on Microsoft's servers. The feature was devised as a much quicker way to connect to Wi-Fi at other peoples' houses. Microsoft didn't anticipate the reactions of millions of new users when they discovered Windows 10 sharing their Wi-Fi password, spawning a series of negative media reports last summer.
Microsoft has now removed the feature entirely. It claimed the decision has been made due to low usage and low demand.
"We have removed the Wi-Fi Sense feature that allows you to share Wi-Fi networks with your contacts and to be automatically connected to networks shared by your contacts," Microsoft said. "The cost of updating the code to keep this feature working combined with low usage and low demand made this not worth further investment."
Wi-Fi Sense's other component will continue to operate and be available. The feature can also automatically connect you to public Wi-Fi hotspots, accepting terms and conditions and providing your name, email address and phone number when required. This part of Wi-Fi Sense appears to be used more frequently, presumably because there are less potential security issues attached.
Wi-Fi Sense will be removed from the public release edition of Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update due in July. The update will also bring a number of new features, improvements and fixes, including the changes released in yesterday's Insider build. These include extensions in Microsoft Edge, a new Ink Workspace for pen input and improvements to the Cortana digital assistant.
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, Wifi, Security
 
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