Microsoft has always had two fundamentals about privacy with Windows 10:
- You have full control with the information that is collected. - Windows 10 collects information from its users to better serve them.
Microsoft gathers a certain amount of information from users in order to offer service that is secure and reliable. Some of the user information gathered includes the type of device, application crash reports, and an anonymous device ID. Microsoft and their developers use the information to provide constant improvements on applications. Based on user settings, Microsoft can personalize the information collected. Microsoft does not, however, scan the content of emails or other means of communication or files for use in advertising.
How safe and reliable is the information Microsoft collects?
For Windows 10 the collected information is encrypted while being transmitted to Microsoft’s servers and kept in secure areas. Microsoft uses the data it collects so they can discover issues with certain drivers or applications that may crash systems and require a reboot. Microsoft then contacts their development partners responsible for those drivers and helps them offer quick solutions that users see usually within 48 hours.
Remember, the information you allow Microsoft to learn about you will only benefit you so you can have a personalized experience with Windows 10. For example, if you are a sports fan you may want to share that data so Microsoft can offer game score updates or the latest news about your favorite teams or sports. With Cortana you must supply more personal data in order to achieve the complete experience with additional privacy settings.
What if I don’t want to share my data?
For those of you who don’t care for the personalized Windows experience and just want to use the product without sharing anything, there are ways you can disable it. For instance, you can go into your privacy settings and simply turn off the data collected for advertising.
You can choose to turn off the feature that allows apps to use your advertising ID for experiences across apps. When you turn that setting off it resets your ID. You should also turn off all the advertising integration features available with both Windows 8 and Windows 10. You are probably going to be stuck with ads regardless since they pay for free websites however the ad personalization is what you are disabling. You can disable personalized ads by going to Settings, then Privacy, General, and turn off the option “Let apps use my advertising ID for experience across apps”. After that, open a web browser and navigate to choice.microsoft.com/en-us/opt-out. Once in there you can select “Off” for “personalized ads wherever I used my Microsoft account” and “Personalized ads in this browser”. This disables personalized ads from displaying on any device you use to log into your Microsoft account.
How do I disable Cortana?
Cortana is a built in feature Microsoft distributed so their users can easily set reminders, calendar events, email, and other personal data. While this feature is great some users may want to disable it, which is quite easy. Click on the Cortana icon and the notebook icon on the left hand side of the pop up. Choose settings and slide the top option “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more” to off.
After you have disabled this setting a new option appears “Search online and include web results”. This will include Bing results when you do a search on your device. If you want this disabled it is easy. You may wish to go into the Settings app privacy area. To do this go to Settings, then Privacy, Speech, inking, and typing. This enables Cortana to collect various data about you in order to deliver certain services. You can click on the “Stop getting to know me” button to disable that. By doing so you are deleting the data that was collected and stored on your device and will disable the dictation function.
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, you are in control over what data Microsoft collects from you. While some may love the idea of getting personalized services and apps displayed to them at their fingertips others may want to remain as anonymous as they possibly can. Either way is fine and Microsoft will continue to provide the most secure and private experience to their users as they can.