Next Windows 10 To Reveal What Data Microsoft Collects about You
Microsoft plans to launch new privacy tools to help customers better understand the types of data collected about them when they use devices running the Windows operating system. The company said the changes are aimed at increasing users' trust and confidence.
Yesterday's announcement comes a few days before Data Privacy Day, an annual observation in the U.S. and Canada sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance. Held every Jan. 28, the theme of this year's Data Privacy Day is "Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust."
Other new features that will be arriving with the next Windows 10 update include expanded control of fonts, streamlined setup for Windows Hello security, and fixes for a variety of PC bugs and glitches. Microsoft released a preview build of the updates to developer insiders yesterday. The next consumer update to Windows 10 is expected to arrive sometime this spring.
Responding to 'Excessive Collection' Complaints
The coming privacy-focused changes include a new application called the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, which will be available free through the Microsoft Store, and an updated Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. The main addition to the privacy dashboard will be an Activity History page that lets users see details on what data has been collected and saved about the activities of their Microsoft accounts.
"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," Windows Devices Group privacy officer Marisa Rogers wrote yesterday in a blog post. "This is all part of our commitment to increase your trust and confidence in our products and services."
Released in July 2015, Windows 10 has been repeatedly criticized over the extent of data that it collects about users in the course of their activities. For example, in 2016, the French data protection authority took formal action against Microsoft for "excessive collection of personal data" and other privacy violations.
Since then, Microsoft has made a number of changes, including the addition of the privacy dashboard last year, to address such concerns, and French regulators closed their proceedings against the company in June.
Updates To Arrive this Spring
Data on Windows 10 user activity is used to guide improvements in the operating system, according to Windows and Devices Group software engineer Dona Sarkar.
"Microsoft uses Windows diagnostic data to focus our decisions and efforts to provide you with the most robust and valuable platform possible," Sarkar wrote yesterday in a blog post about the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build. "By participating in our diagnostic data programs, you have a voice in the operating system's development, improving the overall product experience and quality through your insights."
In addition to the new privacy features, the next update of Windows 10 will include new font settings and additional fonts available through the Microsoft Store. The new settings include a Fonts page that lets users see previews of what text looks like in different font families, colors, and languages.
Another change will make it easier for users to delete activities in their Timelines, giving them the option of batch-deleting records from a specific hour or day. Users will also be able to set up their biometric security preferences straight from a Windows Hello tile, rather than having to navigate into their settings.
Image credit: Product shots by Microsoft; iStock Artist's concept.