Microsoft has finally responded to privacy concerns surrounding its latest operating system, Windows 10. The new OS launched two months ago to heavy criticism regarding several features that involved sending users’ data to Microsoft. Now, vice president Terry Myerson has released a statement detailing the ways Microsoft collects and uses data through Windows 10.
“In today’s connected world, maintaining our privacy is an incredibly important topic to each of us, thus we welcome the questions and the feedback we’ve received since launching Windows 10,” Myserson writes. “From the very beginning, we designed Windows 10 with two straightforward privacy principles in mind:
“1. Windows 10 collects information so the product will work better for you.
“2. You are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.”
Myserson says all information collected via Windows 10 is encrypted on transit and stored in secure servers at Microsoft. The company splits that data into 3 distinct categories. First, “Safety and Reliability Data” is data collected so that Microsoft can provide a “secure and reliable experience.” This involves data such as error reports from crashed apps, device ID, and device type. Myerson says this doesn’t include any personal files or content and says that Microsoft takes “several steps” to avoid collecting any personal information that could be used to identify the user.
Second, “Personalization Data” is data Microsoft collects about a specific user to better tailor their services to the individual. This is the part of Microsoft’s data collection that can start to get creepy. Myerson says your Windows 10 experience “benefits from (Microsoft) knowing some things about you to customize your experience, such as knowing whether you are a Seattle Seahawks fan or Real Madrid fan.” That kind of data might be used to give you updates on game scores. This data also involves things like keeping track of what an individual user commonly searches for.
This personalization data will seem creepy to some, but Myerson insists that users are in control of what data they send to Microsoft (and provides a link to instructions on how to turn this off). Still, these settings are essentially opt-out, meaning those that don’t know about Microsoft’s data collection practices will easily agree to having their data collected without their knowledge.
The final type of data is “Advertising Data We Don’t Collect,” which includes the content of your email or files. Myerson says no matter what privacy settings you choose, this type of data will never be collected. That’s not exactly something Microsoft should be praised for. It’s something no company should ever do. Ever. Microsoft shouldn’t expect a gold star for refraining from doing something truly Orwellian.