Windows 10 has gotten a lot of attention for bringing back the Start Menu, adding the Edge web browser and Cortana digital assistant to desktop Windows users, and introducing Continuum technology to automatically transition from desktop to tablet mode and back again on 2-in-1 notebook/tablet convertibles.

But the operating system has also come under fire for the way it collects user data. Now Microsoft has issued a sort of response, in a blog post where the company says it collects anonymous data in order to quickly fix bugs, and personal data in order to offer personalized search results… but that the company does not collect data for advertising purposes.

Whether that makes you feel any better… is up to you.

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20 replies on “Lilbits 308: Is Microsoft spying on you (a lot)?”

  1. Not anymore than Google, Facebook, Apple(Siri+iad). Head to the privacy panel in W10 and uncheck everything but smartscreen for IE/Edge. Windows will still collect telemetry data afterwords but nothing that can identify you.

    1. I like how “they’re all doing it” is suddenly an argument for behemoth corporations spying on us.

      1. It’s not an argument. It’s hypocritical when the complaints are only towards MS but none towards Google, Apple, Facebook.

  2. cybergusa the battling don quichotte of microsoft. whatever your efforts in favour of MS are, they do not change the facts. and btw we all know its not only them. All of the current major players in the digital and internet habitat are of the same kind. it’s like with the bankers: a bunch of legalized criminals exploiting all and everything without limits, supported in doing so by governments.

    1. Sorry, trolling never works on me… I only battle for facts and against misconceptions. You want to push for misconceptions then you’re going to get a rude awakening…

  3. I’ll just wait roughly one year before updating to Windows 10, which is about the time when ISVs have mostly released and optimized their drivers and all those privacy packages that are now in the works will be more mature than now.

    I haven’t seen a new version of Windows offering tangible benefits to me, the user in a long long time.

    I just want to run my software, which I can already. If there’s software I want that only runs on Windows 10 one day, I’ll get it.

    Until then, why should I disrupt my work with Microcruft’s rearranging-the-deck-chairs nonsense?

    – I’ll never accept Microsoft choosing when to use up my bandwidth and CPU cycles to do its updates. There’s been too many Updates in the past 15 years, that I had to roll back cause it broke something.Its MY computer and when I’m on a deadline, Microsoft has no business doing anything to my computer.

    – I don’t accept Windows phoning home at its own whim either. So I have to wait for software like Antispy to be done etc.

    1. Both auto driver updates and auto Windows Store App updates are now optional and can be disabled… Only OS updates are still automatic for Home Edition users, but Pro and Enterprise users can put off all updates. Though, there’s a downloadable tool that allows hiding updates to prevent them from auto being installed.

      While setting the WiFi to metered prevents auto updates, so you can be sure of the updates before installing them…

      Btw, if you have multiple Windows 10 systems on the same network then it can save bandwidth on the updates because only one of them needs to download the update and the rest can just share it…

    2. When software is already mature, one can’t expect massive improvements, the same is true of any platform. If a platform sees significant improvements, it’s only because it was rubbish to begin with.

      You might not be interested in the new features, or not be aware of under the hood changes to work better with newer hardware, but it’s ridiculous to sum it up as rearranging deckchairs. XP was “good enough”, but I’d hate to be running it now. No one’s forcing you to upgrade now.

      Why are you doing business on a home version?

      1. Device drivers can take some time to settle in, though. I’ve already had to revert back to an older image of Windows !0 when my Thinkpad drivers screwed up to the point the system was a real pain to us. Unless there is something in Win10 you can’t live without, waiting a few months before upgrading doesn’t do any harm.

  4. Windows 10 is kinda “curious”, as it takes screenshots occasionally – search for “Windows 10 takes screenshots without your permissions” on YouTube.
    DWS Lite provides some privacy, plus it’s open source. If you’re paranoid, close those doors and windows.

    Edit: search for “DWS Lite Build 448” on GitHub, download the source code, see if it has some backdoors or anything harmful in it, compile it yourself, then close those backdoors in W10. Or just leave them open – Micro$oft is providing W10 for free… Which isn’t true, as you had to buy W7, W8, W8.1 in order to apply for the free update.

    1. There are a bunch of Destroy Windows Spying (DWS) forks out there and many look like they are infected with malware. Makes you wonder if Micro$oft is generating and seeding those bad DWS traps. Remember, always check your downloads with Virustotal first. And also remember nothing is guaranteed, even with Virustotal. I thought Google was Evil. Figures it would take Micro$oft to top them.

      1. So Google uses user data for Web ads and MS states they does but somehow that makes Google less evil?

        The same Google that pretty much made sure the privacy alternative of Scroogle got throttled and may have been behind the denial of service attacks that crippled it towards the end… The same Google that told a judge that users of Gmail had no guarantee of privacy on their service… The same Google that has fought tooth and nail against Europe’s Forget Me right law… The same Google that takes it upon itself to censor our searches… The same Google that outright prevents it’s partners from developing their own fork of Android if they want to still use Google’s services at all, even if sold on different devices…

        Yeah, we don’t want them collecting any data that may actually be used to improve Windows… Oh, no, because that’s just too evil of them… We want them to be able to fix it by being psychics or the old trial and error method that takes years… Who needs fast fixes anyway… Or have a search engine that actually knows what we’re looking for and doesn’t continuously produce the same irrelevant search results because creating user profiles to actually do something useful are just too evil, even if very useful…

        Never mind a lot these things were already introduced with Windows 8… but because they added Cortana and a few other tweaks it’s suddenly all evil now… Okay, glad we got that straightened out…

        1. “So Google uses user data for Web ads and MS states they does but somehow that makes Google less evil?”

          OK – I’ll give you that one – they are both Evil.

          If I use Google’s search engine (and I never do) I know it will spy on me under the (plausible) premise that it wants to give me better search results. OK fine. I have choices – I can search using something that doesn’t spy on me.

          Google incorporated search into everything about Android as an OS under the same premise of providing me better results. I don’t use Android for anything remotely private or personal. I never let it search, I never use Google as a search engine. I don’t want Google spying on me.

          Microsoft sold me an OS not based on search, so there was no reason to spy on me. Now Microsoft tries to mimic Google – and Microsoft begins to spy on me as well.

          Again, both are Evil.

          Microsoft could be better than Google if it gave user’s the option to TURN OFF the spying. But obviously that’s not happening. If Microsoft DID allow user’s to turn off spying – I’ll bet the majority of then will do it!

          1. Not based on Search? What do you think Cortana is? What do you think Siri is? What do you think Google Now is?

            There really isn’t a search engine anymore that does provide any real privacy anymore… Scroogle tried but they had to close shop…

            While even using a browser involves some user data every time you use it, never mind social media sites like Facebook… The whole Internet spies on you to some extent.

            Even the apps we use, like some AV apps companies are now selling user data to 3rd parties…

            There’s a difference from being intentionally bad to the customers from just the way things are now in the 21st century and how technology has changed how just about everything is done.

            After all, it’s not like we don’t get nothing from the trade offs… You want better support, faster fixes, more useful software that caters to your specific needs and wants, etc. and that all requires a flow of information to get done…

            Evil would be exploiting those same systems simply for profit and not giving the users anything in return and that’s where it’s hard to make the argument that MS is evil with Windows 10… But there’s always alternatives if you really don’t want any of those benefits but keep in mind even most of the alternatives won’t completely shield your privacy as long as you use the Internet and don’t stay off the grid… even encryption has its limits…

            While MS is giving choices, like you can choose to not use Cortana, disable it, or change the default search engine to something else besides Bing… whether people even know they have a choice or realize what a choice means is another question… Like saying yes to a pop-up, those things happen too but there’s enough security conscious users out there to explain how to go back and change the settings if you made the wrong choice and power users will always find a way to override just about any aspect of the OS and even put out apps to make it easy after awhile…

          2. Agree with your comment, though I didn’t think siri was based on search. It’s a fancy name for voice recognition, not a new thing comparable to Google Now and Cortana.

          3. They’re all voice recognition systems but to produce any useful information they have to have access to databases like the Internet that can’t just be stored on your device… Also, part of that recognition requires some performance that the device itself may not be able to provide and that’s another reason for the servers, like remote gaming, most of the work is done on the servers and you get the results…

            Siri is basically a service that’s tied directly into Apple servers and like the others are tied into the default search engines to help produce results, like when you ask what time a movie starts, etc… All Siri queries are also saved for 2 years on their servers as well, though they say they anonymize the data…

            https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gPqJeABxOVU/T_WlGldUV7I/AAAAAAAAAMQ/PId6XAABIj0/s1600/siri-high-protocol-hacked.png

            Siri’s ability to open apps, etc also requires built in permissions in iOS and integration throughout the OS.

            So, it’s not just a voice recognition app…

        2. Greedle, Microcruft, Crapple.. all the same greedy corporate foam whippers.

          Some people give credit to Google for giving their software in exchange for the data..
          Microsoft on the other hand has been charging cash for everything, so there’s no willingness to give cash AND data.

          Here’s something fun to think about:
          How many cloud backup solutions are really backed by the NSA?

          1. Uh, no on the charging for everything… You’re forgetting the whole free for a year upgrades, which is now to over 100,000,000 users… along with all the free updates and upgrades that will be given for the life of the Windows 10… Much like how Apple now handles OSX with free incremental OS updates.

            They even turned the .NET into Open Source now… and most of the data is specifically for the services and support features.

            While, without direct ad revenue they still have to make a living somehow… but it’s hard to argue they are being greedy as they don’t charge for everything…

            As for the NSA, they got their hands into just about everything and that includes many of the alternatives… If you followed the court cases it was multiple companies that were fighting the DoJ on what the courts could order them to give up. Surprising enough MS even risked violating a court order that would have had them held in contempt of court…

            https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/09/judge-mulls-contempt-charges-in-microsofts-e-mail-privacy-fight-with-us/

            and this also happened…

            https://techcrunch.com/2014/06/24/microsofts-top-lawyer-calls-on-congress-to-end-the-nsas-unfettered-bulk-collection-of-data/

            So, I don’t think they’re really on the NSA’s speed dial list at the moment…

    2. Uh, that video was of the Insider Preview Build… It’s suppose to do stuff like that because you sign up to be a beta tester and gave them permission when you sign up to collect a whole bunch of usage data, on top of user feedback… Just like how many apps call home when there’s a crash and it sends a report of it to the company… When you beta test you usually agree to a much higher degree of feedback data collecting so they can literally troubleshoot the software as it’s being used…

      Benefits… Insider Preview Build users don’t have to pay for anything, they can use the OS as long as they’re Beta testers and for Windows 10 that means they can keep doing it for the life of the product because they’ll be continuously fixing, improving, adding, etc. So no need to purchase a license or upgrade… They can just download the ISO and use it on any hardware, transfer it at any time, etc… all the benefits of a full retail but at no cost… except to privacy…

      So, obviously not the same deal as regular, paid for/upgraded, users…

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