Microsoft responds to Windows 10 privacy concerns
Nothing seems to get internet users riled up like concerns for privacy, and Microsoft has had its fair share of criticism in the past. With the release of Windows 10 earlier this year, the company faced a huge backlash about settings and features of the new OS, from automated family activity reports to disabling pirate games remotely. Microsoft has kept pretty quiet until now, but in a sign that the howls are getting too loud to ignore, the company has written a blog post addressing the concerns.
Thepost, simply titled “Privacy and Windows 10”, is written by executive VP Terry Myerson, and attempts to justify the company’s policy on data collection. It explains that although the company does collect information (and you’d be hard pushed to find an internet company that doesn’t, by the way), customers are “in control with the ability to determine what information is collected”.
Any data sent to Microsoft “is encrypted in transit to our servers, and then stored in secure facilities”. The post adds that while device IDs, types and crash logs are collected from Windows 10 users, none of it can identify which person it came from.
Then there’s personalisation data, like knowing the words you’re likely to use for predictive typing, or remembering you’re a Hartlepool United fan (you are, right?) so that it can send goal updates your way. The post suggests you should be happy with this, but if by any chance you’re not, then updating your settings is just a couple of clicks away. Myerson also notes that Cortana – which requires more personal data to function fully –requires you to opt in to its more aggressive data collection before use.
Finally, Microsoft can’t resist having a little dig at some of its rivals, which perhaps deserve a bit more scrutiny than they get. Myerson writes: “Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you.”
The post doesn’t address every privacy concern I’ve heard raised, but if you’re not satisfied with the response, Myerson does add that Windows Insiders can send specific privacy-related comments through the Feedback app. You might assume this feedback goes straight into a bin somewhere in Redmond, but apparently not: “As an example of direct response to feedback we’ve received, all Windows 10 customers will receive an upcoming update to family features, with default settings designed to be more appropriate for teenagers, compared to younger children,” he writes.
It doesn’t address every criticism, but then you can only fit so much in a blog post and still have people read it, as any writer knows. For now, I’m just pleased Microsoft is listening to complaints, rather than offering nothing but stony silence and fingers in the ears.