Microsoft have released a blog post that responds directly to Windows 10 privacy concerns.
In the blog post, released Monday, 28th September, Microsoft insists that users’ privacy is very important to them, stating that ‘trust,’ is the veritable core pillar of their vision for modern, personal computing.
Indeed, the blog post even opens and ends with the word ‘trust.’
But can you ‘trust’ what they say?
In the two months since Windows 10 was launched, Microsoft has experienced a barrage of criticism over its redesigned privacy policies. Most, if not all of the criticism has come from one particular passage in one policy. The upshot of which is that any personal information gathered by Microsoft will be “safe and secure”, except when Microsoft decides that that information isn’t safe and secure.
Critics were quick to accuse Windows 10 of invasive spying on customers, and of trying to collect huge amounts of data from their user base on the sly. Despite the lack of evidence to support most of these claims, the ‘spying’ controversy has continued.
Microsoft sends out executive Terry Myerson to try and silence the conspiracy theorists
The Microsoft executive behind Monday’s blog post, Terry Myerson, didn’t directly respond to the critics. Instead he opted to try and clarify exactly what information Microsoft does and doesn’t take from Windows 10 users. Myerson said that Microsoft has taken “several steps to avoid collecting any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or account ID.” Myerson also stated that Microsoft had no interest in the content of users files, either.
According to Myerson, Microsoft collects the data it does to roll out improvements and reliability fixes to Windows 10, sometimes within just 48 hours. In fairness to Myerson, he does use a great example of just how this data can be used.
Citing an issue with a flawed graphics driver, he described a situation that only came to light as a result of Microsoft’s aggregation of collected data. The graphics driver at fault was, apparently causing users machines to reboot. But thanks to the collected data, the problem was identified and fixed within 24 hours.
It’s not Cortana, it’s you!
Some of the biggest concerns that were listed, have concerned Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant service. What many critics often don’t mention, is that Cortana has to be manually enabled if you want to use her. That’s right, she’s off by default.
This ties in with the main theme of the Microsoft blog post. Possibly it took so long for Microsoft to respond to all the criticism because they themselves didn’t really understand what all the hype was about.
Microsoft doesn’t collect data for advertising purposes. It gave up on that front quite a while back; unlike, say Google, who actually collect quite a lot of their users personal information so they can use it to sell ad space on their web pages.
‘Trust us,’ says Microsoft
But as I said, at the start, the core issue seems to resolve around trust, and transparency. One of the underlying themes of Myerson’s post revolved around Microsoft being more open with what they do and don’t do. To me, it really seems like they just never really considered it all that much of an issue when Windows 10 launched.
Myerson does though, make a very good point, and again, one that several quite loud critics always seem to overlook. “You are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.”
There are plenty of options to decide just what is and isn’t shared with Microsoft. While, some data will always be gathered by Microsoft, as long as Windows 10 is connected to the internet, it’s entirely your choice exactly what you do and don’t want to share with them.